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Patient stories

Watch our specially created films to help you and your child learn more about our audiology services.

Children's audiology - the place, the service, the people

Learn about the children and young people's audiology centre and how it supports our patients and families.

Children's audiology – the place, the service, the people – video transcript

Patient: what makes children audiology special?

Jolanta: the people

Parent: the people

Kirsten: definitely the people

Patient: they're really friendly and they have the best toys!

Patient [using sign language]: world-class facilities

Patient: without them I wouldn't be able to hear.

Patient: Without this place I wouldn't hear very properly.

Jolanta, children’s audiology: The children and young people's audiology centre is one of the largest in England, serving six London boroughs. We are based at St Thomas' hospital in our purpose-built department where we provide an innovative, family-centred audiology service. We recognise that every child, young person and their family is unique and treated individually. Twenty specialist audiologists work across four different clinic sites, conducting approximately nine thousand appointments per year.

Michelle, children’s audiology: At St Thomas' we work closely with a wide range of other professionals, including specialists teachers, speech and language therapists, paediatricians and ear nose and throat specialists.

Amanda, children’s audiology: The Hummingbird clinic provides specialist hearing assessments for children with autism and complex needs. Each appointment is tailored to the needs of the individual child using information from the parents about their child's likes and dislikes, their interests and motivators and their favourite toys and music. We are able to really personalise the appointments for each child. We have a range of music from popular TV shows, nursery rhymes and other environmental sounds which we can use to modify the hearing assessment. 

Kerri, children’s audiology: The team are always open to new ways of working and conducting our clinics. We have been involved in research and trials to provide virtual appointments via the internet. A lot of work has also gone into supporting our patients when they transition from primary school to secondary school, or on to an adult audiology service. Our team will always ensure each of our patients is well prepared for their next steps.

Kirsten: We have an ongoing wish to be always improving and evolving based on scientific evidence and patient feedback.

Parent: The consistency of staff are fantastic. So the team that diagnosed Stefan at birth is still here. And I know that I can also drop a direct email or I can make a direct phone call if I need any advice or any help. Everyone has been super supportive. They really understand children's audiology which is the most important thing. You really feel, as well, that your child's an individual, and everyone makes a real fuss of them when they come, which is lovely.

 

What does my hearing loss mean for me?

Meet some of our older patients to find out how their hearing loss affects them and the advice they have for others.

What does my hearing loss mean for me? – video transcript

I have severe hearing loss, I wear hearing aids in both ears, since I was a baby. To be honest I just had to get on with it you know, there's no point being down about it. Just being happy every day and doing what I love.

At the age of 12 I got told I was deaf and I thought it was the end of the world.

It was actually someone in my primary school who realised that I was deaf and said to my mum, "I think your daughter's deaf" and my mum was like "no, no she's not". So... Doctor to doctor and they actually said yes "your daughter is deaf".

I used to lip-read when they were doing hearing tests and I used to basically fake the results so my hearing was fine. But I knew I was deaf, I just was in denial to myself that I was deaf.

It feels really weird, you feel different from other people, you look different, you sound different. You just feel different in general but the fact is, you're special.

St Thomas' was, well they've been really great, they made me see a light through the end of the tunnel. The audiology team always sees me on time and the appointments are always quick if they need to be. Or if I need to talk about something they always resolve the problem.

This is my hearing aid and it doesn't really affect me, it's not an issue, it's just something that I've got used to wearing. I can't not wear it.

Playing sport is not a problem, I can run, I can play rugby.

They don't hurt me, they're comfortable. You take them out at bedtime.

And change the battery every two weeks. I'd say to a parent who's just come in with a deaf baby, don't worry nothing is going to stop your child with their life, nothing is going to stop them from living an ordinary life with ordinary friends.

Let them know that you're there. Try your best to communicate with them. I would say learn sign so that they can feel accepted as well into the family if it's only them that's deaf. Treat them normally, don't even think that their hearing is going to make them different.

There's always something to look forward to: whether it's getting a new hearing aid to be able to hear better or just the simple perks of having the microphone in the classroom to help you hear better or Bluetooth so you can connect them up to your phone through the loop system.

I'm in year 12, first year of sixth form, I'm currently studying law, media and geography.

I'm 17 and I'm studying A levels, I'm doing four. Maths, physics, psychology and PE.

Don't worry, you know you will have a fun life and don't let it bother you. Just fit in with everyone else and be happy most importantly.

Don't feel afraid, be special.

There's nothing to hold you back in life at all.

 

My baby has hearing loss - what next?

This film explains the importance of early diagnosis and intervention, with advice from some of our parents whose babies were diagnosed with a hearing loss.

My baby has hearing loss – what next? – video transcript

This is Harry and this is Freddie, they were born at 24 weeks. Harry came out first and Fred came second. Both of them needed a lot of care and support and once they were discharged they both needed their audiology checks to be done because they both had little problems that showed up.

If your child is diagnosed at birth you also have the rush of hormones that you have when you’ve’ first given birth, so it’s quite natural, to perhaps have a little cry and worry about what the future holds. But actually, if you get to know the deaf community, if you get to know other deaf children, if you speak to teachers of the deaf, and obviously the audiology team here, they will help you understand that your child is going to be absolutely as perfect as the moment they were born. Their deafness really shouldn’t be an issue if you manage it well.

We tend to think that we hear with our ears. But actually, we hear with the brain. Our ears are only helping us to get the information about sound to the brain. We can think of ears as a doorway and so we can think of hearing loss as a ‘doorway problem’, because the ears are the doorway to the brain for sound information. The doorway can be open or closed a little or a lot, which means that sound information is not reaching the brain clearly.

If we want a child to use spoken language to communicate, we need to open up the ear doorway. Modern technology, such as hearing aids, is designed to open up this doorway in order to deliver sound information to the brain. The brain responds to the information that gets delivered. Better quality information means stronger pathways develop in the brain.

Don’t underestimate the children. Sometimes they are stronger than we think. They are proving us that they can just adjust to the new changes of their lives. Their life can be beautiful, as normal as they want it.

A child learns how to speak based on what they can hear. We know from studies that early diagnosis and assistance from technology is essential to ensure the best outcome. Wearing technology helps to build the brain’s foundation for listening and spoken language and so should be used as much as possible. We are aiming for at least 10 to 12 hours a day.

He can hear better with his hearing aids, so we are very strict about his hearing aid wearing, and he has them on from the moment he gets dressed in the morning, till the moment he goes to bed. And you can’t lie because the audiologists test it when you come into the hospital.

He wears his hearing aids every day. And as soon as they go in you notice the difference: he starts smiling and talking and paying attention to what’s going on.

It’s important to talk with your child as much as possible. Your child’s brain needs to be activated, stimulated and developed with as much spoken language as possible. Reading aloud to your child helps with their language, literacy and reading development.

Children who are read to regularly show gains of more than twice as many new words. Singing with your child is a wonderful workout for their entire brain. They will love your voice no matter how it sounds. Singing to them teaches them how to hear and understand different sounds as well as rhythm. Above all else, play and have fun with your child.

Don’t panic. Don’t worry too much about it. You’re surrounded by audiologists and special teachers, who come and talk to you about everything you’d be worried about. There’s so many people, who’ve been through exactly the same thing that you’re going through. I found that everyone had the same worries. The same concerns, the same problems trying to keep the hearing aids in. I went online, I went on Facebook and Instagram and I found other people with the same stories. And you can ask them questions, they’re full of advice and helpful tips. And we’re lucky that we get so much support and people come to the house, there are special schools. There are signing clubs that you can join and singing clubs you can join especially for people that have got hearing loss. And you’re never on your own, basically. You’ve always got someone to help.

 

With thanks to Professor Carol Flexor for her collaborative work on the topics covered in these films.

Further resources

You can find more resources, such as patient information leaflets and useful websites on our patient leaflets page.
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