Oct 2019 Mirror.co.uk

A mum has described the amazing moment her daughter heard for the first time - and she knows she will never forget it. Elen Naughton's second daughter Nel was born profoundly deaf. The diagnosis was made six weeks after her birth. There was no family history of deafness and it came as 'a total shock', writes Elen, who lives in Cardiff. She was heartbroken thinking that Nel had never heard the hundreds of times her big sister Anni had spoken to her, or her saying “Caru ti Nel fach” (Love you little Nel) a million times to her in the early weeks of her life. Nor did Nel hear her Dad shushing her to sleep whilst comforting her in the middle of the night.

nel

Nel with a doll which has a replica Cochlear implant

Both parents started to learn sign language and Anni also learned the basics. At nine months Nel signed "milk" for the first time, soon followed by "more" and food”. Nel had hearing aids fitted when she was six weeks old, however they did not give her access to sound. Nel had bilateral Cochlear implant surgery at the University Hospital Wales in July this year, when she was 15 months old. Four weeks after the operation, the family were excited for Nel’s implants to be switched on. Elen writes: "The Cochlear implant team were very clear in managing our expectations with the switch on, as this is just the first step in a long process of tuning, and adjusting volume to ensure she is able to hear the best that she can. As expected, she cried at the initial shock of hearing our voices for the first time, but then turned to give me the biggest hug. She had such a puzzled expression on her face for the rest of the day, trying to make sense of this new sensation. Nel still has a lot of audiology appointments ahead of her but has adjusted so well to her Cochlear implant and really enjoys the sound of her own voice, and having fun exploring new sounds. Soon after switch on, I was keen to take Nel to the beach to hear the waves. It’s hard to know exactly how much she can hear at the moment, as it takes time for the brain to learn to process sound and to make sense of it all, but she seemed to be mesmerised by the sound of the waves. Now, at 18 months old, Nel is turning to sounds, and even trying to copy sounds such as animal noises. She also turns when we call her name, something that a parent of a hearing child would take for granted, but it is something that we will never tire of, and when Nel does turn to sound we all jump around and cheer, which she now joins in with!”

The family continue to use BSL, in addition to Welsh and English, and are proud to be a trilingual family.

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