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3,000 deafblind children losing out on vital help

THREE out of four children who are deafblind – as many as 3,000 children – are missing out by not receiving the right support because authorities are failing to identify them, says a new report.

The report, Supporting Success, from the deafblind charity Sense, calls on the Government to introduce a legal requirement shared by education, health and social care to identify and support deafblind children and their parents.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Gillian Morbey, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We wish to ensure that all deafblind children are identified at an early age so they don’t continue to miss out on critical development opportunities.”

Children & Families Minister Sarah Teather MP said: “The reforms we have set out are based on the recognition that the current system is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

“I believe that our reforms are the most far-reaching changes for 30 years, and represent a really significant opportunity to improve provision for deafblind children and young people and all others with special educational needs or who are disabled.”

The Minister also heard from a number of parents of deafblind children who told her their struggles with the system to get their children vital support.

Martha Oakes (three years-old) is sight and hearing impaired, quadriplegic and on 24 hour ventilation support. Her mum, Kim, 42, said: “The system is a baffling minefield. I’ve had to go through so many different assessments carried out by an array of staff – with little or no knowledge of Martha’s needs – just to get my daughter vital support.

“Martha spent her first two and half years in hospital with staff who just did not know how to support her as a deafblind child.”

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