A six-year-old deaf boy from Lisburn is encouraging people to raise money for the charity that taught him to speak.
Ethan Anderson and his parents Krystal and Neil hope people in the area will join the many schools, workplaces, celebrities and community groups across the UK who are taking part in Loud Shirt Day on June 8 for national charity Auditory Verbal UK.
Ethan is one of the stars of a film made by the charity to promote Loud Shirt Day that has already been seen by thousands of people online - www.youtube.com/watch?v=hX7JjH3X4GY
Auditory Verbal UK works with pre-school deaf children with hearing aids or cochlear implants to teach them to listen and speak without the need to rely on sign language or lip reading.
Eighty per cent of children who spend at least two years on AVUK’s early intervention programme achieve spoken language skills that are equal to a typically hearing child of their age, and most attend mainstream schools.
The charity is based in London, but Ethan received therapy through a combination of flying over to England and remotely via Skype.
Ethan failed the newborn hearing test at 10 days old and when he was five months his parents were told that hearing aids would never give him enough access to sound.
Ethan was referred to the cochlear implant team in Belfast and Krystal and Neil threw themselves into researching options, determined that Ethan would be able to speak.
Krystal said: “During our research I came across Auditory Verbal UK and was amazed at their video clips of profoundly deaf children listening and speaking just like their hearing peers. Even though they are based in the south of England, we felt immediately this was the answer we had been looking for.”
Krystal and Neil were told by Auditory Verbal UK that they could do the therapy sessions by Skype, so shortly after Ethan had his cochlear implant at 14 months, they flew to London to meet the team.
“Since that day we have never looked back,” Krystal continued. “There was definitely challenges with learning over Skype but I can genuinely say that these challenges helped improve Ethan and my communication with each other.
“Ethan began to find his voice. Step by step he was given the language to explain his thoughts, feelings and ideas. Now he doesn’t stop talking and telling us all about his thoughts, ideas and feelings, he’s a real chatterbox!”
Ethan spent two years on Auditory Verbal UK’s programme before graduating aged six years two months with the spoken language skills of a typical six year eight month old.
Loud Shirt Day officially takes place on June 8 but can be organised at any time. To sign up head to www.avuk.org/loud-shirt-day-uk and join in the conversation on social media using the hashtag #loudshirtday