Support for children who are deafblind

Find out more about how we support children with deafblindness or multi-sensory impairment. 

Sense was founded over 65 years ago by two mothers. Peggy Freeman and Margaret Brock both had children who were born with congenital rubella, and were deafblind. 

Together Peggy and Margaret built an organisation to meet other families like theirs, and support their children to live life to the full. 

Today, Sense still offers expert advice and support to children with deafblindness and their families. We build close relationships with young people and their parents, from diagnosis right through to their transition to adulthood. 

Find out more about how we work with young people and their families by reading their stories. 

Looking for help? Get in touch with our team.

Stories from young people we support

“Learning signs has helped Luca and his family to communicate”

Luca enjoys painting while signing with his Sense Support Worker.
Luca enjoys a finger-painting activity with his Sense Support Worker.

Anne, who works for Sense, has been working closely with Luca and his family since the day he was born. He had just been diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects his ability to see, hear and balance.

Anne says: “I’ve learnt in my 26 years at Sense that the sooner we start working with a child, the more we can help them develop and learn to communicate. One of the first techniques I used is called hand-under-hand communication, where I rest Luca’s hand on mine, and we make signs together. I would also sign to Luca, using British Sign Language or Makaton. Over time, Luca began to associate signs, objects and sounds with ideas, things and actions. He was communicating!”

Read Luca’s story

“Nowadays, Tilly is very playful”

Tilly, a young girl, sitting at a desk.
Tilly joins in with Sense’s virtual activities.

Six-year-old Tilly is supported by Sense, and has a rare chromosome disorder causing poor vision, hearing loss and learning difficulties. 

Her mum, Louise, says: “When we first started going to Sense Woodside as a family, Tilly wasn’t able to participate in the sessions, and she loved lying on the floor and looking at the bright lights. But going to the sessions had such a positive impact on us as a family because we suddenly found ourselves with people who knew what we were going through.

“It’s been amazing to work with the Sense team to develop Tilly’s communication. Before, she couldn’t communicate with us but Caitlin, a Sense Children and Family Support Worker, is supporting Tilly to learn to sign.”

Read Tilly’s story

“Sense understood Archie”

A close-up of Archie smiling, with another person wearing sunglasses.
Archie has the best time on Sense Holidays.

Kate’s son Archie is now 21. He’s been supported by Sense for most of his life, and still comes on Sense Holidays with us today.

Kate says: “We had our first visit from one of the Sense children and family support workers in January 2003. She played with Archie and watched him closely. That moment changed Archie’s life. The report that she wrote (which I still have) meant that he had to be taught by qualified staff. When she finished her report, she told us that it was important he was identified as deafblind.”

Read Archie’s story

“Every child has the right to an education”

MSI teacher Laura signing with a small child.
MSI teacher Laura Byrne signing with a young girl.

Laura is one of our specialist Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI) teachers, based in Manchester. She supports deafblind children in schools to reach their full potential.

She says: “When families first come to Sense, they can feel really overwhelmed by a new diagnosis and the challenges of navigating the world of SEND. Learning about multi-sensory impairment is something families often need support with, and this is where our skills are most needed.”

Read about Laura’s role

Do you need support?

We’re here to offer free, practical advice to any parents of children who are deafblind.