THEY’RE the words all parents like to hear from their children – I love you.
But for Sam Gilbert it was even more special when son Kyi Jones, three, uttered the words at bedtime, as he is profoundly deaf.
Thanks to the help given to the family by the Elizabeth Foundation, Kyi has a cochlear implant and is able to speak.
Sam, 24, of Fair Oak Drive, Havant, said: ‘It’s a genetic condition, and unfortunately both I and my partner Scott carry the faulty gene.
‘But we didn’t realise that until after Kyi was born.
‘To have a deaf child never even crossed our minds.
‘I have a daughter, Harriott, who’s four and she doesn’t have any problems.
‘When Kyi was 10 days old he had the routine test done, but then he needed a referral to the Elizabeth Foundation.
‘Scott thought it would be fine, but I thought he was deaf as I did tests at home, like slamming the door, but Kyi wouldn’t jump.’
The Elizabeth Foundation, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, helps children who are profoundly deaf and their families.
It was founded by chief executive Shirley Metherell, who named the organisation after her daughter, who was born profoundly deaf 32 years ago.
At the time the family needed to wait two years before she was finally diagnosed.
But through campaigning work by the foundation, today every baby is screened at birth and can be diagnosed by the time they are just four weeks old.
The foundation, which is based in the Queen Alexandra Hospital site, in Cosham, also provides pre-school classes.
‘Shirley is amazing, you are told in such a way that it doesn’t feel like you’re about to fall apart,’ added Sam.
‘You think: this is going to change your life, but it’s not going to destroy it.
‘The support you get from them is fantastic, they are like an extended family and Kyi has learnt so much from them.
‘At 17 months he is talking and can say 65 words and he also understands things like if I ask him to put his shoes on.
‘The foundation has changed his life, because without them he would be signing.’
To celebrate its 30th year, the foundation held a ball at the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel, Southampton Road, earlier this year, which raised £1,500.
Shirley said: ‘When I started this in my home I had no idea what it would grow into.
‘But I’m so pleased we’ve got to this stage.
‘Parents of children diagnosed are always welcome to come and have a look at what we can offer.’
To find out more information visit elizabeth-foundation.org/.