How Sense spoke my brother Fernando’s language

Carole explains how going to a Sense Centre changed everything for her brother, Fernando.

Growing up was just like it was for any other child for my brother. He did what we did. We played cricket, we played football. We played table tennis.

He loved dancing. He loves music. He’s always loved music and as soon as he could hear music, he would get up and dance because he can feel the vibration. The baseline. He could feel it.

He wanted to do everything everybody else did. He’s got his limitations, but he saw we’re all the same.

He’s never been given a label

Fernando is my mother’s fourth child. She’d already had three children and seen their natural development and he wasn’t developing as expected and she kept bringing him back to the doctors. They said, “oh, he’s fine. He’s just lazy, he’s just slow” until they acknowledged that there was definitely a problem.

The doctors didn’t specifically say to my mother he’s diagnosed with this condition or that condition. He’s never been given a label.

The main difference was his walking. His legs aren’t straight, so he doesn’t mobilise as easily as others. He’s registered deaf. And about two years ago he lost sight in his second eye, so he’s now blind totally.

It’s hard for us to communicate as a family

I think that’s the hardest part for Fernando, now being blind. It makes it difficult for us as a family to communicate.

We’ve always done our own sign language. We did a lot of miming. We could always show him and he could visually see. Now that he’s got no sight, it’s so, so hard. Communication is very important for us as a family but our levels of communicating with him aren’t where we would like them to be.

Before Sense, life was just sort of plodding along. No work – though he used to have a job – just watching TV, going out with his mother to seniors’ clubs, away from people his age.

He’d set his heart on Sense

I didn’t know what Sense was about but all I heard was he went to a Sense Centre and he was so excited. He wanted to go and he’d set his heart on it.

Once he got there, wow. The sky was the limit for him.

He was just so happy. So excited just to be going there. Everything changed. He was a different person altogether.

He met John from Sense and John automatically had a language that Fernando could understand. It was exciting for him. It was good to know that he was so excited that somebody is talking his language. We could see that spark.

The team from Sense joined Fernando via Zoom for his doctors’ appointments. The doctor was so happy. He was like ‘finally, we can ask Fernando certain questions and get answers.’

The pandemic made him ask, ‘why am I locked in?’

This pandemic has been very, very hard for him. The first lockdown happened and it was difficult. He’s in his late 50s now. He’d been going out every day or doing things. Then, all of a sudden, boom! Everything shut down and he just couldn’t understand.

He had a lot of tension and frustration building up. He was getting angry, thinking, ‘why am I locked in?’. I phoned up Fernando’s Sense Centre. Luckily, Emily from Sense came out to see us. They weren’t really supposed to come out, but this was an emergency.

He was so glad to see Emily and they were able to explain to him what was going on. Emily could communicate so fluently with him.

Zoom sessions took a lot off us

They started doing Zoom calls. Emily would come on and they would show us what to do, how to talk to Fernando and Fernando would talk back and they would tell us what he was saying.

There was a lot of translation going on. He looked forward to those sessions and it took a load off us.

I don’t know how we would have got through the lockdown without Sense.

Everybody gets up and has a day to look forward to. It’s nice to know that he can wake up and look forward to going somewhere. Doing something he enjoys and being around people he enjoys and that’s the most important thing that you want out of life.

So yeah, Sense has had a big, massive impact on his life. And if he’s happy it makes everybody else happy. It gives us all a piece of mind.

Going to Sense has opened the world for Fernando

Sense now has brought him back. He has a purpose, he has confidence. He’s got something to look forward to and that’s what he’s living for. It’s just opened the world for him. Opened up doors that have been closed for him.

It’s made life a lot easier. Especially for us as a family unit, knowing that Fernando’s happy and going somewhere that he wants to go to.

He’s just happy that somebody can talk his language. That’s the main thing. It’s talking his language. That’s all I keep on saying. Sense talks his language.

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