"Our friendship is unbreakable."
Meet 13-year-old Max. He was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome – a rare facial disorder which means he was born deaf with no cheek bones and closed ear canals. He was given his first hearing aid when he was just ten weeks old.
A difficult childhood
Growing up, Max was prone to temper tantrums and had a tough time making friends. He felt anxious about being left alone at night because once he takes his hearing aids out, he can’t hear his parents downstairs. Imagine how hard it must be trying to sleep knowing you wouldn’t hear a fire alarm, a break-in or calls from loved ones?
Max was also terrified of going out in public as people would stare at him. He became more and more isolated and his confidence continued to drop. His parents felt totally helpless and it pained them to see their child suffer so much. They tried their very best to support and comfort him, but Max was still shy, scared and anxious in so many situations.
Then one day, mum Andrea met some of our amazing fundraisers in her local town centre. They told her all about Hearing Dogs and the work we do to help deaf people in similar situations to Max. This was a light bulb moment for Andrea, and she called us up straight away.
In February 2013, Max met his hearing dog Chloe. This loveable Labrador doesn’t just alert Max to important sounds he cannot hear – she’s helped him feel less alone, isolated and scared in every day situations.
Max and Chloe’s award-winning friendship
Friends and family have seen a huge difference in Max since Chloe came into his life. He cracks jokes, gets involved with conversations more and now looks forward to family days out.
People no longer stare at Max when he goes out in public. They focus on Chloe in her Hearing Dogs jacket and want to learn more about what she can do. This really has done wonders for Max’s self-esteem as outings are now a pleasant experience thanks to his hearing dog.
It’s no wonder Max and Chloe won our Life-Changing Child Partnership of the Year Award in 2014. They are a huge inspiration to us and we are so lucky to have played a part in this amazing little boy’s life.
Chloe is an invaluable part of the family. Max’s parents depend on Chloe to reassure him when he is feeling anxious. They can send Chloe upstairs to Max’s bedroom with a note in her collar, as Max cannot hear if his mum shouts out to him.
But, most importantly of all, as Max says, “Chloe is my best friend, she makes me feel confident. Sometimes I fall out with my friends, but now I know I have a friend that I will never fall out with.”
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Our hearing dogs help deaf people overcome feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression and isolation. They also become a deaf person's best friend.