Christmas lockdown another level of isolation for those with deafblindness

Megan and a professionally trained intervenor, Julie.

OTTAWA — The sights and sounds of the holiday season are a vivid memory, relived year after year. Neighbourhoods aglow with twinkling lights, trees adorned with beautiful decorations, warm laughter of loved ones, and the unmistakable murmur of countless shoppers echoing through the mall. Things were different this year, for everyone.

For the first time in her life, Megan, a woman with deafblindness, did not spend Christmas at home with her family. 

“We will drop off her presents and stocking to her home, one of DeafBlind Ontario Services’ residential locations, as well as FaceTime with Megan and her intervenor on Christmas day,” says Kathy Momtahan, Megan’s mom.

Deafblindness is a combined loss of hearing and vision that impacts access to information, communication, and mobility. At just eight months old, Megan’s family learned that she is deafblind and has Zellweger Spectrum Disorder, a degenerative neurological disorder.

“Learning how to parent a child with deafblindness was a big challenge… It was difficult finding specialists who knew about her disorder. We had to do our own research and take her out of the country for answers and what treatment was available,” says Kathy.

People with deafblindness often face additional medical challenges, making them an especially vulnerable group. The people supported by DeafBlind Ontario Services, like Megan, have been in lockdown since March, keeping them safe during the pandemic. We all know what it’s like to be in isolation. Now, imagine how this affects someone with deafblindness.

Megan and her Mom, Kathy, Christmas 2002.

Intervenors are professionally trained to act as the “eyes” and “ears” of the individual with deafblindness through the sense of touch. 

“Intervenor Services means that Megan has specialized support that knows her  Communication methods and preferences, her health and safety needs, all the while planning for a fun and rich adult life,” says Kathy.

With a disability that is already isolating, the need for specialized Intervenor Services is vital now more than ever. This holiday season, DeafBlind Ontario Services’ intervenors across the province will bring a sense of comfort and normalcy during a difficult time.

“As a child, Megan enjoyed being with her family during the holidays. With some hearing in her left ear and a cochlear implant on her right, Megan enjoyed listening to Christmas carols and all the hustle and bustle of activity, not to mention getting extra servings of chocolate pudding around Christmastime,” says Kathy.

“DeafBlind Ontario Services has given Megan the best adult life we could envision for her, with trained and caring intervenors supporting her. She has matured a great deal in the last few years and has adapted to living away from home much better than we expected,” says Kathy.

DeafBlind Ontario Services provides accessible residential and customized support services across the province, including in Ottawa, Embrun, and Vars.

Their holistic approach to Intervenor Services empowers people with deafblindness to achieve their goals and dreams.

To help support individuals like Megan and make a difference this holiday season, visit www.deafblindontario.com/donate

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