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Strictly star Rose Ayling-Ellis’ ‘groundbreaking’ success inspiring therapy for children

Strictly: Rose Ayling-Ellis says she’s ‘terrified’

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Profound deafness is defined as anyone who cannot hear a sound below 90dB, although some profoundly deaf individuals cannot hear anything at all, instead using a combination of sign language, lip-reading and or writing to communicate effectively. Talking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Sadé, 22, and Topaz, 20, explained that rather than the methods previously mentioned, they both communicate through speech, aided by a bilateral Cochlear Implant – a device that consists of two parts, an implant within the cochlear and a sound processor. Topaz went on to explain that the two parts of the device are connected by magnets, one under the skin and one on top, and the sound processor hooks onto their ears so they can hear. 

Having used a cochlear implant since around the age of four, the two girls admitted that people often do not realise they have hearing impairments at all.

The Mayo Clinic explains that hearing loss can occur gradually as you age, or can be due to genetics or a birth defect. Nevertheless, signs to look out for that may indicate that your hearing is declining include the following:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings.

During one of Rose’s most recent dance routines, a silent segment was included to pay tribute to the deaf community, made up of approximately 11 million people. This includes 151,000 British Sign Language users.

Almost immediately, fans of Strictly took to Twitter to react to the couples dance, with some dubbing the pair winners of the show.

“Sat here sobbing at Rose and Gio. I love them together so much and that silent moment was so powerful,” one user wrote.

Whilst another added: “Wow! Feel incredibly privileged to have watched @RoseAlyingEllis & @pernicegiovann1’s beautiful dance. I can’t be the only one sobbing! Such a powerful & innovative insight into Rose’s world.”

In fact, when asked about their personal reactions to the dance, both Topaz and Sadé felt the same way.

Sadé said: “We have never let our hearing impairment hold us back, so we think it’s nice to see Rose doing the same.

“I have two left feet, so I am very impressed with Rose’s brilliant routines every week – She is very brave!”

Agreeing with her sister, Topaz added: “I admire Rose’s efforts and it’s nice to see her going for her dreams as Sadé and I do. It must be very challenging and I’ve been super impressed with her abilities.

“We are rooting for her – Go Rose!”

Both Sadé and Topaz were born deaf, but the girls went on to explain that this has never held them back in life.

“We’ve had support from an early age to be able to communicate well, which has definitely helped. We live very action-packed lives – I love to ski, go to music festivals with my friends, and last month I did a skydive!” explained Sadé, who is the elder of the pair.

“I also graduated from university two years ago, I moved into halls and had no extra measures put into place to support me. I had the same experience, academically and socially, to my hearing peers.

“I now work in a busy nursery as the room leader of the preschool room after completing a year of teacher training.”

Although two years younger than her sister, Topaz has also lived life to the max. She added: “I love horse riding, hunting and jumping and going to live music events with my boyfriend. I have converted a van into an RV and am very excited to go travelling in Europe this year.

“Along with Sadé I rode MX bikes when I was younger and am a competitive Go Kart/Quad bike racer! (just for fun). I love my job working with children in a busy nursery school (with lots of background noise).”

It is thanks to Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK), a UK based charity, that the sisters have learned how to cope and manage with their hearing impariment, mainly through the art of auditory verbal therapy (AV).

This type of therapy is aimed at deaf children in particular, and teaches them how to listen and talk. The therapy however is limited, as it is most effective within the first five years of children’s developmental stages.

Both Topaz and Sadé attended classes run by the charity from the age of three, and now regularly support the charity in a bid to draw attention to the importance of the therapy, for those who still might be unaware of its effectiveness.

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Talking about the work they do with AVUK and the impact it has had on them both, Topaz said: “AVUK gave our parents lots of support and taught them different ways to support our hearing journeys too.

“We recently joined many people nationally by wearing our loudest shirts and raising money for this brilliant charity. We also encouraged everyone at the nursery where we work and we had a super fun and loud day! We are forever grateful for the Auditory Verbal therapy we received from AVUK.”

Currently there are over 7,200 deaf children in the UK and only 25 AV Therapists, so the charity are doing everything they can to appeal to government in order to bring AV therapy to more children across the country. AVUK CEO Anita Grover added: “AV therapy can have a transformative impact for families who want their child to learn to listen and talk. Four out of five children who spend two or more years on our programme when they are very young, like Sadé and Topaz, achieve the same spoken language as hearing children.

“With more investment in Auditory Verbal therapy, more children than ever can be supported to reach their full potential, just as Sadé and Topaz have. And the benefits don’t stop there; investment of only £21.5 million in AV Therapy over 10 years could unlock 10-year economic benefits of over £152 million.”

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