I feel I am being punished for not implanting my deaf son - King's Lynn mother Katie Raworth speaks out about heartbreaking decision over son's deafness
PUBLISHED: 17:38 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 20:14 28 November 2017
When she was told her son was profoundly deaf, Katie Raworth faced a decision no mother wants to have to make.
She had an unenviable choice - let him have an operation to give her son the chance of hearing, or avoid the risk of surgery but accept he has to live with the life-long condition. She chose the latter - but now feels society is punishing her for not wanting to implant her deaf son.
Six-year-old Zavier Hunt cannot speak or hear and is only able to communicate to the world through British Sign Language (BSL).
He also signs to communicate with his parents - Sam Hunt and Katie Raworth - and his two siblings - Alexis, eight, and Summer, six - who can all hear.
He was only five weeks old when Ms Raworth, 31, from North Wootton in King’s Lynn, was told he had problems with his hearing.
“I was shocked, I didn’t see that coming,” she said. “I was sad about it, I didn’t know what that would mean for him and for us as a family.”
Zavier was assessed for a cochlear implant, which would entail an electronic device being surgically implanted inside his ears. But given his age and the risk of surgery, Ms Raworth decided not to go ahead with the implant and to let her son grow up embracing deaf culture.
But Ms Raworth said: “I found it challenging, I found other people’s opinion the hardest to cope with.
“I have had people say he will grow up to resent me for not giving him an implant but I am confident about my decision.
“I made contact with the deaf community myself and learnt deaf people can lead a happy life without one. The deaf community have been very supportive.” Zavier receives help from two support workers - Charis Wille and Emily Hunter - but due to the lack of services for deaf people he isn’t able to get anymore help with his education.
The family will be now moving 100 miles away to Doncaster, to the nearest specialist deaf school.
“My family obviously don’t want to go but they understand why we are doing it,” Ms Raworth said.
“Services for deaf people are very inconsistent. They are not giving equal opportunities and access to schools and jobs.
“Parents of deaf children shouldn’t have to feel they need to make their decision of implanting their children based on society. We should stop portraying deafness as a calamity.”