A chat with a mum supporting families of deaf children

Meet the lively and engaging Daniela Galova,originally from Slovakia, who came to the UK in 2012. She currently lives in Westcliff On Sea with her gorgeous five year old boy, Oliver, who incidentally was  born deaf. London Mums’ contributor James Ambrosius caught up with her recently to find out how she dealt with the situation, and how life is for the both of them now. 

What were your memories and initial thoughts learning about Oliver’s hearing loss and deafness at birth? 

Well, I’m sure you can imagine it came as a massive shock as there was no history of deafness at all on either side of the family. The diagnosis really was a bombshell I didn’t know what to do I was crying all the time.Fortunately we got a lot of audiology specialists from the Lighthouse Centre Southend to help us and after several tests, they referred us to Great Ormond St Hospital.We travelled there regularly every few weeks for further tests and scans which took several months before Oliver got the go ahead to have the Cochlear implant operation. 

 

What are Cochlear implants and how is he with them?

Without getting too technical CI enables a person to improve their ability to hear, that’s if the person has had severe to profound hearing loss and cannot benefit from hearing aids. The implant converts sounds into electrical impulses, which are then interpreted by the brain.  

Ideally it’s really important to operate at a young age, preferably between nine months and two years old as this is a crucial stage in the child’s development and ability to use speech, language and listening skills. Fortunately when they switched Oliver’s on he didn’t cry or panic at all he was extremely happy. Now they are like second nature to him, they took a bit of getting used to, but he really likes them and can put them on himself and he fully understands why he needs them and sometimes when he doesn’t as the case may be! For example when he used to play soft play which tended to be very noisy, he just took them off and enjoyed himself.

 

Does he go to a special school? What are the biggest challenges and concerns you have raising your son? 

Oliver is in a mainstream school in Rayleigh and they have a deaf unit there. He also has a speech and language therapist and an education health and care plan. It’s a fully integrated school where all the children mix and learn Sign Support English together. He speaks English at school and Slovakian at home plus his sign language is improving everyday.It’s a challenge yes, because he only started to develop his speech at 15 months. Normally babies starts to hear voices in the belly and recognise mummy’s voice but now he is up to speed.He’s a bright boy and likes learning.

As far as challenges go I’m a single mum and he is with me most of the time.However he’s a good boy and well behaved he loves to play and we also live by the sea so we go to the beach a lot and we’ve both taken up paddle boarding. He’s very brave and active totally adventurous just like me ! He’s even been horse riding when he was four! He’s very in tune with things too, he cares for everyone and especially animals.His emotional intelligence is switched on. I explain things to him and he understands so we are very much part of a team. I have no family here in the UK just a few friends who I’m really close to. Luckily we’ve got each other and a really special bond,who could want more? Because of all of this I have made some amazing friendships and I have learnt a lot about the deaf community which has inspired me to take up sign language.

Tell us about your charity, and what are your main goals?

I joined The Family Of Deaf Children Essex two years ago and I’m now the secretary. We are a team of five volunteering mums who run it organising events and fundraising to help out all the  kids,siblings parents and families as there is not a lot of support available for them. Lockdown curtailed us somewhat but we still managed to distribute specially tailored lanyards,face masks and other accessories to the deaf community.

 We also put on a few events at Marsh farm plus a kids visit to a chocolate factory. We opened a youth club and we are in the planning stages for some further events for this summer. In my other job, as a live events manager (The Saxology Entertainment Group) I’m fortunate to work with a lot of musicians so we can organise fundraising concerts and raise further awareness for the charity. 

Right now I am getting ready for British Sign Language level three course as I would love to work with deaf people in the future. I recommend everyone learns a few basic signs as the deaf community appreciate this enormously. There is an idea for a purpose built deaf school in Essex. It’s desperately needed as I’m worried as to what sort of support my son will get when he goes to secondary school. So if there’s any benevolent property contractors, investors or sponsors reading this, do please get in touch! 

Lastly tell us about you, I hear you make music too!

Ha! Yes, I know a lot of musicians in the London Funk & Soul scene and I’ve just started recording my first single which I wrote entitled, ‘Keep The Light In Me’ and I’m really enjoying being in the studio with a top producer. It’s great to be on the other side of the music for once! I’m learning to play guitar too,I hope this rubs off on Oliver as I’d like him to pick an instrument up as he already got a great sense of rhythm which is half of the battle!

 

If you would like to find out more about the charity and say hello you can visit their facebook page : Families Of Deaf Children (Essex).

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