A year ago school was a real struggle for George Heath, then in Y4, the noises the Nottingham based boy could hear were causing him real problems. He had to concentrate hard on the lessons in a bid to drown the noises out and ended up suffering with bad headaches. George, now aged 10, was diagnosed with tinnitus and is now finding school much easier thanks to coping techniques. Here, as part of Tinnitus Week, which we are marking by focusing on children and young people with the condition, his mum Niki shares their story.

George's story  

Lots of people can’t believe it when I say that George has tinnitus as, like me, they thought it was something that only older people got, they didn’t realise that children can suffer from the condition too.

 

When George started to have problems at school he said he could hear noises and got lots of headaches. His teacher suggested that we went to the doctors and from there we were referred to the hospital. Our audiologist was brilliant, she asked George about feeling anxious and worried and explained what was happening in his head.

She drew lots of pictures to explain tinnitus to George and this really helped him to understand what was happening. She also gave George a strategy and, because she didn’t want him to be anxious about what was happening, she spent time going through it with us.

Now that we all know what it is causing George problems we’ve been able to work with him to help. We know that there is no cure for tinnitus but there are lots of techniques for helping people to manage their condition.

 

George went back to school and so far Y5 has been much better for him. We spoke to the school and gave them the leaflet that the doctor had given us to explain what was happening and they have provided George with a Learning Passport, this means that if his tinnitus sounds are loud and making him anxious or stressed he can come out of the classroom and has somewhere quiet where he can work alone. Simple changes like this have hugely reduced his anxiety.

Thankfully now that we know what it is we can talk about it together. At night we do lots of calm breathing which helps a lot.

We are just a year into George’s diagnosis but we have come on leaps and bounds thanks to the support we received from the hospital and the procedures that school have put in place. He is now a much happier 10 year old.

 

Tinnitus Week runs from 5-11 February 2018 aiming to get the nation talking about tinnitus and highlight the stories of those living with it. This year’s focus is children and young people. For more information please visit the British Tinnitus Association’s website www.tinnitus.org.uk. You can also follow the hashtag #TinnitusWeek on social media. To download the new BTA resources designed for parents and teachers to understand more about tinnitus and to support children with the condition visit: www.tinnitus.org.uk/Pages/Category/tinnitus-in-children