It’s not easy telling 18-month old twins Skye and Daisy Brake apart.
The girls like the same toys, wear identical outfits and keep parents Katrina and Aaron on their toes.
But Daisy was diagnosed as profoundly deaf when she was just six months old, leaving the whole family devastated.
Now Aaron, a musician and former soldier, and wife Katrina are once again feeling positive about the future, thanks to pioneering treatment which has given Daisy the chance of a normal life.
And they are looking to enlist others to raise funds for ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity, which made the treatment possible.
Katrina, 38, of Dunkeld, Perthshire, said: “We went from being a family that was completely devastated and didn’t know what we were doing, to one which had a great deal of support.”
Katrina and Aaron, 26, who also teaches music, had already endured a difficult start to life as a family when the twins were born 10 weeks premature.
But after three months in the special care baby unit at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, they were allowed home. It was another three months before a routine hearing test flagged up Daisy’s problems.
Katrina said: “It was a big shock, although we had noticed Skye would react to a lot of louder noises, whereas Daisy wouldn’t.
“When we found out she had severe hearing loss, it was devastating, as you want your child to be perfect. All parents do.”
In an effort to find out more, Katrina and Aaron took to the internet and learned about Auditory Verbal Therapy, available at a clinic in Oxfordshire. Aaron said: “We liked it because it was positive. It explained how Daisy could be taught to listen and communicate. The therapy teaches her to communicate and to understand that words mean things.”
Further good news came when doctors confirmed that Daisy was suitable for cochlear implant surgery – and the op was a success.
Coupled with continued therapy sessions in Oxfordshire over the next year, it means that Daisy should be able to communicate normally.
Katrina said: “To have someone telling you that Daisy will be able to listen and will be able to speak the same as any other child means everything to us.
“Now, if you call her name, she’ll turn around. If you ask her to bring you a toy, she’ll do it.
“If her dad plays music, she dances. That’s due to the therapy as she’s filling in the gaps that are missing.”
But funding the therapy sessions and travel costs meant Katrina and Aaron needed financial help. Some of that came from The Soldiers’ Charity, thanks to Aaron’s two-year stint in the Scots Guards before he was medically discharged after suffering a serious knee injury on a live-firing exercise.
But despite his relatively short time in uniform, The Soldiers’ Charity were able to offer some much-needed help.
The couple also received assistance from the Scots Guards and Radio Tay’s Cash for Kids appeal.
Aaron said: “What they’ve done for us has been the difference between Daisy being able to hear and speak and being unable to. It’s as basic as that.”
Now the couple are urging people to sign up for an event next month which will allow The Soldiers’ Charity to help more ex-servicemen and women. The Alliance Trust Cateran Yomp, on June 25 and 26, is a charity walk across Perthshire.
Katrina said: “It’s such a worthwhile charity. The difference it has made to our lives is incredible and we owe them so much. We’d be delighted to see as many people as possible taking part and we’re sure it’ll be good fun.”
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