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Enders Rita: My little girl could lose her hearing tomorrow

Enders Rita: My little girl could lose her hearing tomorrow
Tears ... Rita Simons

The following article appeared in the Sun newspaper on March 13th. In it Eastenders actress Rita Simons talks about her daughter´s deafness, and the decisions she has had to make. Her journey and the inherent dilemnas is similar to that faced by many parents of Deaf children. Next week, on Tuesday March 20th BBC 1 will broadcast ‘Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me.’

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Exclusive The Sun UK
Published: 13-3-2012 at 02:09

EASTENDERS star Rita Simons has opened her heart about her daughter´s deafness – and revealed her little girl will eventually lose her hearing entirely.
The actress uses a BBC1 documentary to explore options open to five-year-old Maiya.
And she was moved to tears during her journey to plan for her child´s future.
She says: "Because there´s a chance of her losing her hearing tomorrow, we do feel like we´re walking a tightrope which we could fall off at any given moment.Top

"I haven´t at any point said to her, ´It´s very likely you´re going to lose all your hearing.´ It´s my job to manage it and work out how we´re going to cope and when the time is right, then I would tell her.

"I want to look at all the options out there. Each route is so different from the other. Exploring all of them, and having an understanding of each option, is imperative for deciding how to move forward."

Rita, who plays ballsy Roxy Mitchell in the soap, tells how Maiya was diagnosed as deaf at six months, although her twin sister Jaimee can hear perfectly.

Without her hearing aids, Maiya can hear nothing at all in her left ear and only very loud sounds in her right.

Rita and her hairdresser husband Theo Silverston discover on camera that Maiya will definitely – rather than probably – suffer deterioration.

Theo says: "It was a bit of a shock. You just don´t want to hear it. You want them to say, ´Actually, she´s doing really well. There´s a chance she´s going to be OK.´ But they can´t say that.

"I can´t say, ´You know what, Maiya, take my ears. Take my cochlears. Have them.´ Because I so blatantly would."

Maiya goes to a mainstream school but Rita is beginning to wonder if her daughter should start interacting with other deaf children as her condition worsens.

She is faced with the choice of helping Maiya to live a normal life in the hearing world or accepting her deafness and getting her more specialist care.

Rita says: "Her life is very full – she does ballet, she does street dance – without anything having to be designed for deaf kids."Top

But Maiya has "terrible tantrums" brought on by the exhaustion of trying to keep up with the other children and understanding what´s going on around her.

Rita – a niece of Lord Alan Sugar – says: "Maiya´s actually doing fine at school. She´s on par with her target for her age.

"But she has to work that much harder to concentrate than all the other kids and she does get very ratty, and throws more tantrums than any other kid.

"That´s because she´s working hard to hear what´s being said and when she´s tired, she´ll snap."

Realising how isolated Maiya must feel, Rita visits a special deaf school – the Mary Hare – to see if kids thrive more among others with similar problems.

Nine out of ten pupils there go on to university or higher education. The experience moves her to tears – especially when she sees a group of children singing and dancing on stage.

She says: "It upsets me because those kids just get on with life. They don´t see themselves as having anything wrong with them.

"Their spirit, their perseverance, I just think they´re gorgeous."

"When I see kids that remind me of Maiya, there´s such a connection, it´s like looking at my own child.

"There is a conflict now because it´s good to know there is a place out there that can enhance her learning experience."Top

In the documentary Rita also looks into the prospect of Maiya having cochlear implants, where a hole is drilled into the skull and electrodes are placed in the inner ear which stimulates the nerve endings to send sound signals to the brain.

It proves a difficult decision when the couple are told there are no statistics for the success rate – and the operation is irreversible.

There is also a confrontation when Rita is told by some deaf adults that they see cochlear implants as tantamount to abuse – leaving Rita gobsmacked.

Theo is also dejected when he is played a simulation of how a deaf child would hear music through cochlear implants, and realises it is far from clear.

But when Rita sees a ten-year-old boy called Jack hearing for the first time with his new implants, her mind is made up and the couple make the decision that Maiya will have implants when her hearing deteriorates.

She says: "I definitely went into this thinking it was a bit of an intrusive contraption and a massive nightmare.

"But looking at Jack and his reaction, it´s going to change his life, and it´s going to change his life for the better.

"I have learned so much. I went into it not knowing anything. Midway through, I thought I was being really naive and thought there was a lot I had to put in place for Maiya with sign language and a deaf school.

"Now I have changed my mind again and I am 100 per cent sure I want to go down the cochlear route.Top

"Regardless as to what anyone from the deaf community says – and everyone´s entitled to their opinion – I cannot for the life of me fathom why, if sound is on offer, wouldn´t you use it?"

Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me, is on BBC1 on March 20 at 10.35pm.

Image: Copyright 2008 News Group Newspapers Ltd and/or its licensors. Contact

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If you have any thoughts on this article, why not post a comment to DeafHear´s Online Forum. Click here.





more...Hearing loss costs an estimated €2.2bn every year in Ireland.


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