Soap star Rita Simons was horrifed when she was accused of child abuse for deciding her deaf daughter should undergo an operation to enable her to hear. The EastEnders actress, 35, and her husband Theo Silveston have decided their six-year-old Maiya will have a cochlear implant fitted, to give her hearing in both ears. However, their decision has been met with a negative reaction by some people, including one young woman who accused her of abuse.
Rita, whose daughter Maiya has a twin sister Jaimee, told Hello! magazine: ‘It comes mainly from people who firmly believe that deafness should be embraced rather than treated as a physical deficiency that should be corrected.
‘I totally respect their point of view. But when a 19-year-old girl told me that I was an “abuser” to let my child have a cochlear implant, I was horrified and deeply hurt.
‘I would throw myself in front of a bus for my girls, and yet I was being judged by someone who didn’t know me or understand my emotional stance at all.
‘We know it’s not a miracle cure and her hearing won’t be perfect.
‘But, in time her brain will process what it is hearing and compensate, making sounds more familiar to her.’
While Maiya has been deaf since birth, her sibling Jaimee has perfect hearing.
Since Maiya’s birth, Rita has been heavily-involved in deaf charity work and also featured in a BBC documentary about life as a parent to a deaf child.
Rita explained: ‘We’ve brought Maiya up as a hearing child, and she attends the same mainstream school as her twin sister.
‘She was born with some hearing; when that goes completely it will leave a void in her life and she will miss it.
‘All we want to do is give her back what she has lost and help to expand her life. If you’ve got the opportunity to give your child the gift of sound, why would you not do that?’