A TRANENT girl who was born prematurely has been inspired by music and song to start speaking, something that her parents did not think was possible just a few months ago.

Freya Reily, six, was born very prematurely and has severe vision impairment as a result. She has received support from Sight Scotland as a result of her condition.

Freya’s parents, Eilidh and Keir, have been amazed at her progress since she started at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh in 2022, and said they were so happy that they were able to give Freya the best possible education and the best possible start in life.

Her teachers said that the progression in Freya’s development had been remarkable, and music and signing had played a huge part in this.

Eilidh said: “There has been such a big change in Freya since she started at the Royal Blind School and she is communicating so much more now.

"It is almost unbelievable, we tried so hard to get her to communicate before school, but all she could really say was ‘mum’ or ‘dad’, but now her speaking has really taken off.

'Huge smile'

“The signing she does at the school has also made a big difference; at first, we were not sure what she was doing, but when the school explained what all the signs meant it was incredible to see what she had picked up in such a short period of time.

“She does the double fist bump for school every morning with a huge smile on her face.”

Louise Buggy, Freya’s class teacher, said that Freya had amazed everyone from the first day she started at school.

She said: “Freya’s language development since she started has been amazing; in fact, I would describe it as almost overwhelming.

“She loves the On Body Sign System that we use, and on day one she was reaching out for the staff’s hands showing that she wanted to join in and connect and interact.

“She then started to guide our hands, showing that she understood what the signs were meaning as we were speaking and singing, and then she started signing for herself.

“Incredibly, just a short time after this, she started to say the key words in the sentences or songs; her first new word was 'school'.

"She then started to learn new key words every couple of days based on our predictable routines.

"To see the progression in this little girl is just astounding.

'She has developed so much'

“Singing and music is just massive for Freya and is a huge motivation for her. She has learned many of the words she can now say from songs.

"We used to keep a list of all her new words, but we are now struggling to keep up as her communication is developing at such a fast rate.”

Freya has also become much stronger, and her movement has increased dramatically, since she started at the Royal Blind School.

Eilidh said: “She is just so much stronger and independent, she is crawling around by herself and pulling herself up.

"I still can’t quite believe it when I am seeing it.

“Everything they do at the school is designed to help Freya. She just adores the soft play and the sensory story time. She loves the swimming in the hydrotherapy pool and this is really helping with the strength in her legs. She is developing in every single way.”

“Freya’s journey since a very young age to now has been amazing, and she has developed so much.

"We could not have imagined back then how much she would have progressed, and that she would now be communicating with us and crawling and standing.

“We wanted to give Freya the best possible start in life and the best possible education, and we know the Royal Blind School is doing exactly this.”

Freya is featuring in Sight Scotland’s newly launched More Than Meets The Eye campaign, which shows people what life with sight loss can look like when they have the right support. It aims to dispel the negative perceptions of people living with sight loss across Scotland and show that vision impairment is not a barrier to living a happy and fulfilling life.

Sight Scotland, which is Scotland’s largest vision impairment organisation and runs the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, wants to reach and help more of the 180,000 people living in Scotland with sight loss. Visit sightscotland.org.uk for more information.