Jesse's story - this is why we need your help

PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 October 2019

Jesse, who is a pupil at the Deaf Academy. Picture: Matt Austin

Jesse, who is a pupil at the Deaf Academy. Picture: Matt Austin

Matt Austin

Meet nine-year-old Jessie, who has attended the the Deaf Academy since he was four

Jesse, who is a pupil at the Deaf Academy. Picture: Matt AustinJesse, who is a pupil at the Deaf Academy. Picture: Matt Austin

All of the students at the Deaf Academy have additional needs along with deafness. Nine-year old Jesse, who has CHARGE Syndrome, has attended the Deaf Academy since he was four.

Jesse was born seven weeks prematurely with multiple heart defects and was diagnosed with CHARGE Syndrome at six months.

CHARGE is an extremely complex syndrome which affects one in every 10,000 births, and for Jesse it comes with the challenges of severe hearing loss, impaired vision and mobility difficulties.

Throughout his early years Jesse and his parents faced misdiagnoses and uncertainty about his future.

In September 2014 his parents, Rachel and Joe, moved to Exeter from London so Jesse could attend the Deaf Academy.

On arriving at the academy, Jesse was unable to walk, didn't interact with others, and didn't know how to play - but this quickly began to change.

After just two months, which included one-to-one physical and occupational therapy, communication development, stimulation and play, Jesse was walking down the corridor.

He is now able to walk and run independently, and loves to play.

Jesse is learning to communicate, including using British Sign Language (BSL), and to eat independently, as well as further developing his mobility and engagement with others.

Around 95 per cent of all Deaf children are born to hearing parents, who often have no prior experience of deafness or knowledge of BSL.

For many, this results in a disconnection from the world, leading to isolation and delayed development. Coming to the Deaf Academy allows young people like Jesse to access specialised support; they are able to learn British Sign Language, access occupational therapy, and are surrounded by a community of Deaf peers, while their education and care is tailored to their individual needs and abilities.

For Jesse, the new Deaf Academy will mean an even brighter future; one where he will learn in an environment designed especially for children with special needs, as well as deafness.

Jesse's development, growth and quality of life will be assured in what will be a new, world-class facility for Deaf education.

Sign up for your 'Do One Thing' today and change a child's life, just like Jesse's.

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