Deaf Sunderland girl is ‘a new child,’ thanks to school

Molly Mitchell-Cook with her mother Julie. 'Seven-year-old Molly is autistic and deaf.
Molly Mitchell-Cook with her mother Julie. 'Seven-year-old Molly is autistic and deaf.
Have your say

FEISTY Molly Mitchell-Cook is determined to overcome all the challenges life throws at her.

The seven-year-old’s parents, Julie Mitchell and Mark Cook, were given the devastating news their daughter was deaf when she was just two days old.

Further bad news came two years ago when specialists diagnosed the youngster, from Seaburn, as autistic, which adds to her communication barriers.

Now, since starting Northern Counties School in Newcastle, which caters for hearing-impaired youngsters with other learning difficulties, they say Molly is like a different child.

Julie said finding out Molly was autistic was a big relief because it explained her bad behaviour, which included massive temper tantrums, pulling her hair out, biting, scratching, running off and repetitive door slamming.

Molly had no awareness of danger and because she would wake up and wander about in the night, her family had to fit an alarm on her bedroom door.

Julie, who works at the Echo, said: “We thought her behaviour was just part of the deafness, then she was diagnosed with ADHD.

“But, I knew there was something more to it, I just didn’t know what.”

A member of staff at Molly’s previous school, George Washington Primary School, which caters for children with sensory impairment, suggested the youngster, who has a high IQ, be tested for autism.

After a visit to Northern Counties, Julie knew this was where she wanted Molly to go to school and following consultations, Sunderland City Council agreed it was best placed to meet her very specific needs.

Julie, also mum to 25-year-old Rebecca, said: “I saw a difference in her in the first week.

“She is so much calmer now, her speech has come on loads and she is also signing a lot more now.

“I think the autism was making her very angry and frustrated.”

The proud mum said going to Northern Counties has not just changed Molly’s life, but her’s and Nissan worker Mark’s as well.

Julie said: “Now, when she comes home from school and I ask what she has done she actually tells me.

“Molly is very, very competitive. She faces big challenges and is determined to overcome them.

“I think in the future she will be able to do anything she sets her mind to.”

Molly has also recently won a swimming trophy and two medals at a gala run by the swimming group for children with disabilities, which she attends at Sandhill View School’s pool on weekends.