Reuben is six years old and lives with his older brother Jacob and mum, Kerry, in Tyne and Wear. 

Kerry explains, “Reuben has been deaf from quite a young age. He had a stammer and was also not pronouncing a lot of his words correctly.”

Reuben’s condition and how it affects him

“Shortly after Reuben was born, they did the first hearing test and noticed fluid behind the ear, but they assumed it would disappear over time. However, as time went by, there must have been no improvement because over lockdown, as Reuben was being home schooled, I noticed he wasn’t hearing me when I was speaking to him unless he was looking directly at me. Thinking back to before the pandemic he had started getting into trouble a little for not listening in class. I spoke to his teachers and we decided to get Reuben assessed again. They found no movement in both eardrums.”

Kerry adds, “Since receiving his hearing aids, we have communicated and understood each other better. We are learning sign language and Reuben also lip-reads. Many of my family members have hearing-related problems, so it runs in the family. I also work with people with learning disabilities, so I am surrounded by many people with various needs and understand different struggles and difficulties.”

“I think it’s just important for people to know the best way to communicate with Reuben is to stand directly in front of him and make sure you pronounce your words as clear as you can.”

Daily life and challenges for the family

“Our normal days consist of me getting the boys ready for school and doing homework after school together. The evenings are usually spent either outside or playing games together. I do worry when Reuben is further away from me because the hearing aids and tablet won’t connect from a distance. The iPad that Family Fund helped with is able to connect to Reuben’s hearing aids via Bluetooth and then I can speak to him when he’s in a different room, it’s like a walkie talkie. But if he gets out of range, like when he’s crossing the road he won’t always hear me say stop or lookout. Thankfully my family is very supportive, especially with my parents being deaf. They understand the various struggles.”

“Jacob, his big brother, helps out where he can. They also enjoy playing together, and Jacob likes teaching Reuben things. Because Reuben is shy, Jacob tends to take charge and talk for him, making it more difficult for Reuben to make his own friends.” 

“Because I work in the care industry, I contracted Covid quite early on, the boys had to move in with my sister. I was afraid of passing anything on to them. It was difficult because we missed each other and I don’t like being apart. They are also both very energetic, and not being able to go outside during that time impacted them a lot.”


How we helped

“We received a Haven holiday which was great because their Dad had recently passed away. Spending time together and giving us all a break was an amazing experience. Reuben also struggles with social interactions as he is quite shy so being able to socialise and be outside was great for him.”

“We also were awarded a tablet through Family Fund. We got an iPad and as I mentioned it’s been an immense help connecting to his hearing aids. He’s been able to partake in his online classes and listen to the teacher which became especially beneficial during lockdown. Without the iPad, it would be more difficult for us to communicate.”

“Reuben went climbing once, and I was able to connect his hearing aids to the tablet, which meant I could communicate and guide him on what to do, he was able to hear me even from a distance. Family Fund’s help has made the aspect of communication and understanding each other a lot easier.”

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