Sixteen year old Eva was feeling lonely, troubled and uncertain about her future. Her mum Shamiran told us, “Eva was born three months premature and only weighed 800 grams. She had to stay in hospital for two months and when we were finally able to bring her home, they told us to check her hearing as she didn’t seem to be responding to noises. We discovered our little baby’s cochleas had never developed and she was profoundly deaf. Eva was the first deaf member of our family so it was all completely unknown to us.”
At eighteen months, Eva had cochlear implants fitted which helped to some extent with her hearing and speech development. Yet as Shamiran explained, “Eva would ask ‘Why do I have this – and not my sisters?’ She felt there was something wrong with her. Eva has lacked confidence for a long time but this year, it’s been really bad. Before, she would talk with her sisters and her cousins but recently, she stopped opening up with them as much. She has some deaf friends at school but often, she feels left out with hearing friends.”
Eva’s school counsellor suggested Eva might want a youth support worker who could really understand what she was experiencing. Eva met Nicollette from Deaf Children Australia and the two immediately connected. As Eva explains: “Nicollette is someone that I have never had before.
When I need someone to talk to, she understands me well. Nicollette supports me so I can talk about my ideas and my worries.”
Nicollette is deaf herself and shared with Eva how she also struggled to accept her deafness and how she was bullied at school at times. This has encouraged Eva to open up with Nicollette. Eva shared with us, “When I was in primary school, sometimes I didn’t really care so much about being deaf. But then sometimes, I was teased and bullied and I did care. Now, I care a lot – mainly because I worry about the future, work options, and friends. With deaf friends, it’s much easier. If I miss something, I can ask them to repeat themselves. With hearing friends, they say, ‘never mind’. That makes me feel left out.”
“She wants to improve her Auslan skills so we chat and sign together. I will support Eva with homework, arrange volunteer work experience with animals, and help her get her driving licence by connecting her up with a deaf driving instructor. I am assisting with independent living skills like travel training to enable Eva to get to school and go out with friends independently. I help her develop the confidence to go shopping and order at a café… things that many young people her age take for granted.
“I will go horse riding with Eva because she has a real passion for horses and would love to work with them one day. I am taking her to DCA’s recreation events and Deaf community events so she can make new friends and feel a sense of belonging. She has already attended several events including our Combined Secondary School Sports Carnival and youth events.”
Shamiran told us, “We wanted Eva to meet a happy and confident young deaf adult who could guide Eva and show her how to enjoy a full life. Eva is very happy and excited when she has been out with Nicollette so she is really helping.” Eva can now imagine a brighter future for herself and told us about her dreams: “I hope to have a family one day and more pets. I want to work with animals and I would love to do something like teaching children how to ride horses.”