Speech for Deaf Children

On our return to Botswana from our holiday in England, life was back to normal. Willem was at work, Vil was at play school and I was looking after Hughan at home.

I was spending most of my days getting information and deciding on how we were going to work with Hughan.

There were no home computers or places to go, to get information about deafness in Gaborone.

I had not taken Hughan back to Johannesburg yet, to the centre where he was being taught sign language.

A friend of ours told us that there was a family living in Gaborone whose daughter was also profoundly deaf.

I was invited to go and have tea with her, where she met Hughan. It was fantastic to meet somebody who was so like-minded and it was very reassuring when she told us that their daughter was now a teenager and she was doing very well with her lip reading skills and learning how to speak.

They had been travelling to a centre in Cape Town at Tygerberg Hospital, called the Carel du Toit centre.Professor Carel du toit had started the centre. He had started to test new born babies for deafness as part of the prodeedure he carried out when he was checking new born babies. He wanted to diagnose deafness as early as possible, so babies could start wearing hearing aids.

The Carel du toit Centre had also started doing the cochlear implant procedure, although it was still very early days of invention.

Her daughter had never been taught sign language and it was a speech orientated programme that they had followed.

I had explained to her that we had started taking Hughan to Johannesburg, where he was learning sign language.

They had also gone through a similar experience to us deciding on how they were going to work with their daughter. She encouraged us to contact the centre and travel to Cape Town to see if we were happy with the programme they offered.

So the arrangements were made and we travelled by car as a family, to Cape Town to the Carel du Toit centre.

We were given such a warm welcome when we arrived at the centre and we were given accommodation on the grounds of Tygerberg Hospital.

On the first day, we were asked to watch a video about the centre and the programme. The video started in absolute silence and this gave Willem and I an idea of what it was like for Hughan to sit in front of the television.

We were introduced to Nessa, who was going to be teaching us how to work with Hughan.

Nessa was so excited to meet us and indicated she was looking forward to working with Hughan. Her enthusiasm was very uplifting and gave us great hope.

She also told us that deaf children were very special and as parents we would find it very rewarding working with Hughan.

At last we had come across the centre that we wanted to work with. The decisions that we made along the way were critical to the outcome of Hughan’s achievements today.

Hughan is now 22 years old and can hold a normal conversation on his mobile telephone.

This is such a fantastic achievement and I am very happy to share with you the diary that we kept from when we started at the centre.

It is 21 years since we started Hughan’s diary.

It is the little things that we did every day that enabled him to learn to speak. Please keep a diary of your child and you will be able to do the same as us.

You need to have the belief and the desire to help your child and anything is possible.

This is our experience and you can make your own decisions along the way as to how you would like to work with your child.

You can send me messages through Facebook and followed the diary on twitter.com/hughansdiary.

I just want to wish you all the very best.


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