New centre gives Azayliah the best start - Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children

New centre gives Azayliah the best start

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Azayliah attends weekly sessions at RIDBC with her mum and dad, benefiting from RIDBC’s transdisciplinary early learning program

When RIDBC Liverpool was officially launched in July 2014, Christine and Sarkis jumped at the chance to begin accessing support for their daughter, Azayliah, who is one year old and has both vision and hearing loss.

Azayliah was born with a rare syndrome called Branchio Occulo Facial Sydrome.

“That’s when our family’s journey with RIDBC started,” said Sarkis. “Azayliah was diagnosed with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, hearing loss and a heart defect, at only a few weeks of age.

“We wanted to access RIDBC’s services but hesitated because they weren’t in our local area. I work during the day and am the only one who drives as Christine has epilepsy.

“RIDBC Liverpool really changed everything. It’s so close to home and the staff are so flexible – which is very important. When your child has a disability you end up juggling so many appointments.”

Sarkis said RIDBC’s team of specialists work together to streamline Azayliah’s therapy.

“As parents you want a team of professionals working together to meet your child’s needs and that’s how RIDBC works,” said Sarkis. “It’s also great for Azayliah, seeing familiar faces all the time.”

Sarkis has been overwhelmed by the significant progress Azayliah has made.

“Before we started with RIDBC, Azayliah had trouble recognising and focusing on our faces,” said Sarkis. “Today, Azayliah recognises not only our faces but her surroundings – she has even developed a great love of books.

“When Azayliah was fitted with hearing aids at six weeks of age she struggled with identifying day to day sounds. Now, she is not only aware of her surrounding environment, she is also repeating sounds she hears!”

Sarkis knows firsthand the impact of hearing loss.

“I actually have hearing loss as well and when I was growing up there weren’t really any services,” said Sarkis. “That’s why early intervention is such a big thing for us. With early intervention, the response we are getting from Azayliah is amazing – she recently said ‘mumma’ for the first time. I didn’t learn to speak until I was three years old. You just cannot put a price on what RIDBC provides.”

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