The Real Toy Story: Grace

Five-year-old Grace loves swimming and her family and teachers will give her an alligator when it’s time to go to the pool to show what they’re about to do.

Edd with GraceGrace communicates using a mixture of signs and sound, and toys can help explain what is going to happen next.

Grace was born with severe short-sightedness and is profoundly deaf. She had cochlear implants put in on her second birthday and shortly after that she could hear speech and environmental sounds. But still her communication was very subtle - just eye movements and finger taps. 

Her dad Edd said:

“We began to understand what Grace’s eye pointing and body movements meant when we started working with our support worker at Sense. Together we’re trying to find the best way to connect with Grace and help her to learn how to express herself.

"Using an alligator to show it’s swimming time or a ball when we’re about to go to the playground helps Grace feel calm as new environments can be quite stressful for her.”

Illustration of toy alligator with Santa hatGrace now understands a range of signs, picture symbols and objects of reference - like specific toys used to illustrate specific activities. She attends school full time and loves swimming and all things messy.

“Sometimes people ask us if Grace attends school just one day a week and they’re quite surprised when we tell them she goes to school full time and that she loves it. We know that Grace has lots of ability and that she’s only hindered by the physical aspects of her challenges.

"Our strongest desire is to see her as independent as possible and communication plays a very big part. And we know that with the right support she can achieve that.”

Many deafblind children will use more than one type of communication. A combination of non-verbal communication such as body movements and eye pointing and symbols like objects of reference (including toys) and pictures can be used to assist deafblind children to communicate and learn.

Sense can help deafblind children and their parents find ways to communicate. We can also offer practical tips on suitable play activities and sensory toys tailored to each child’s needs.


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First published: Thursday 13 November 2014
Updated: Friday 29 January 2016