Christmas Appeal

This Christmas, will you help a child like Luca learn to communicate?

When three-year-old Luca was born, he was diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome, which is a rare genetic condition that affects his ability to see, hear and balance. Luca’s parents, Faye and Ben, were terrified he wouldn’t be able to communicate, or enjoy things that other children do. But Sense has been there every step of the way to help Luca to connect with the world.

Learning signs has been crucial. It’s helped Luca and his family to communicate at a level Faye and Ben had thought might not be possible.

For most children, communication evolves naturally as they watch and listen to the people around them and associate what they see and hear with ideas, actions and objects. But for children like Luca, communication has to be taught and learnt, and that takes time, patience and expertise.

One of the first techniques Luca was taught is called ‘hand-under-hand’ communication, where Luca rests his hand on another person’s hand and they make signs together. This approach gives children like Luca control – they can take their hand away at any time – and the freedom to learn at their own pace.

Luca also learnt how to sign using British sign language or Makaton (a simplified sign language for children), the person signing to him would have to be very close to him as his vision is very limited. Over time, Luca began to associate signs, objects and sounds with ideas, things and actions. He was communicating!

Knowing some signs helps Luca, who has a bone anchored hearing aid, get more out of the thing he loves most in the world – music. And now, Luca’s not just enjoying music, he’s making it too – he loves nothings more than to sign and sing along to his favourite songs at our pre-school Sensory Explorers group. Lucas’s favourite is ‘Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star’, which he signs in Makaton.

Please will you send a Christmas gift today to help another child like Luca to learn to communicate with their family?

How you can help

Your gift of £10 could help pay for another child like Luca to attend a Sensory Explorers session to help develop communication through play.

Your gift of £50 could pay for two one-to-one music sessions where a child who is deafblind like Luca can learn to communicate in different ways.

Your gift of £100 could pay for a Sense specialist like Anne to visit a child like Luca in hospital.

Thank you for your support.

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First published: Friday 4 November 2016
Updated: Monday 30 October 2017