New Meaning for Mother's Day

NEWMARKET, ON, May 10, 2017 /CNW/ - "It was the best Mother's Day", said Anne, when her son John was finally released from the hospital on a particularly special Mother's Day in 1983.

Months prior, on a warm day in January, John was born premature. He was a very small baby, weighing just over one pound. With only a fifty percent chance of survival, John spent months in an incubator, fighting for his life in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Doctors told John's family that he could have a number of birth defects including vision and hearing loss. At age two, John was assessed as deafblind.

Deafblindness is a combined loss of hearing and vision to such an extent that neither the hearing nor vision can be used as a means of accessing information, communication and mobility. In fact, 95 percent of what you learn comes from your eyes and ears.

Growing up, John attended school for the deaf and blind. But, after graduating, there was a void in his life. John's brothers had already moved away from home to start their lives, and his parents wanted the same independence for him.

This proved difficult as programs for developmentally delayed adults were not suitable, since John does not have this challenge, and although he does struggle with autism, programs for the autistic did not address his vision and hearing impairments.

According to his Mom, Anne, "He became bored and depressed at home"… "Then, one life-changing day, I discovered DeafBlind Ontario Services".

In November of 2010, John moved into one of DeafBlind Ontario Services' residential locations in Jackson's Point. With the help of Intervenors, specially trained professionals who act as the "eyes" and "ears" of the individual who is deafblind, John was able to choose his own activities, learn valuable life skills, and gain work experience as a volunteer at a local restaurant.

However, John was eager to live more independently and take ownership of the place that he calls home. This dream was realized in the Spring of 2015, when John moved into his own apartment along with a roommate.

To communicate, John uses Facilitated Typing, where an Intervenor physically assists him by holding his hand or arm to use an augmentative communication system (either an iPad or Dynavox). He then uses one finger to type words on the keyboard.

When asked about Mother's Day, John told his Intervenors "I love my Mom. Mom helped me, when I need it", and, "My Mom and Dad want me [to be] happy now [that] I am a man".  

Each year for Anne and her family, Mother's Day is an extra special occasion as they reflect on when John first came home from the hospital and the challenges he has overcome.

Founded in 1989, DeafBlind Ontario Services is a not-for-profit organization that helps individuals who are deafblind increase their independence and improve their quality of life through specialized services. With residential locations and community services programs across the province, their services extend into a wide range of communities in Ontario.

To learn more, visit



Twitter: @DeafBlindON

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SOURCE DeafBlind Ontario Services

For further information: please contact: Director of Development and Communications, Susan Manahan at 1-855-340-3267 ext.228 or


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