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EastEnders' Star Rita Simons Reveals Her Fears For Twin Daughter Who Is Going Deaf

21/03/2012 14:41 | Updated 22 May 2015
EastEnders' star Rita Simons, Roxy MitchellPA
EastEnders actress Rita Simons has opened her heart about her fears for her little girl who is slowly losing her hearing.

Rita, who plays Roxy Mitchell, has six year-old twin daughters, Jaimee and Maiya.

When Maiya was six months old, doctors found that she was missing nerve endings and parts of her cochlea in her ears.

Over the years, her hearing has deteriorated so that she has lost hearing in her left ear and can only hear loud sounds in her right.

But with two hearing aids in, she can hear people talking.

Doctors have now warned Rita and her husband, Theo, that Maiya is likely to go completely deaf. Added to this, any bang to Maiya's head could accelerate the deterioration.

This has led Rita to "panic" at any playground fall.

"We feel we are constantly walking a tightrope that we could fall off of at any point with no given warning," said Rita on the BBC One programme, "My Daughter, Deafness and Me".

"We are just constantly trying to preserve, preserve, preserve and sometimes it seems so pointless because unfortunately it may all be futile in the end.

"Maiya has grown up in a hearing world and the family have yet to engage with the deaf community.

"People say you must engage with the deaf community, but we haven't felt we needed to," Rita explains.

"Her life is very full. She goes to ballet, street dance, she does all these things without anything having to be designed especially for deaf kids, so we haven't engaged."

But Rita realised she and Theo would need to meet some of those directly involved to understand the issues fully.

She went to a specialist school for the deaf and found the children there living full and happy lives.

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It upsets me because those kids just get on with life - they don't see themselves as having anything wrong with them, it's their spirit and their perseverance. It's like looking at my child," she said.

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"I'm very reassured to know that if the time came, and I needed to, this is here. There is a conflict now because I do know there is somewhere out there that can enhance her learning experience.

"I'm really surprised at how much Maiya could get out of a place like this."

But then they witnessed another little boy called Jack who had a cochlear implant - a surgically-implanted electronic device that can improve hearing by stimulating the auditory nerve.

Although an implant cannot restore hearing to normal, it does give the sensation of sounds.

It would only be suitable for Maiya when her hearing aids stopped working.

As the little boy began to recognise sound, a big smile spread across his face. Rita was touched by his reaction.

"I definitely went into this thinking it was a big intrusive contraption and it's all a massive nightmare but looking at Jack and his reaction - it's going to change his life for the better," said Rita.

She and Theo decided there and then that this was the way forward for their daughter.

"Regardless to what anyone from the deaf community says, and I understand everyone has their own opinion - I cannot fathom for the life of me, and I've tried, if sound is on offer why you wouldn't take it," said Rita.

• Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me is available on the BBC iPlayer.

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