I went to an amazing conference the other day on cochlear implants put on by the Cochlear Foundation. When I finished grad school 7 years ago cochlear implants were still pretty controversial. I never knew quite what to think.
I left this conference deeply impressed that implanting children with a profound hearing loss with cochlear implants as soon as possible produces the best possible outcomes. It was recommended to implant as early as 6 months and when possible putting an implant in each ear virtually restoring their hearing.
I ran into an old friend from college at this conference who is now an audiologist. He told me a story about one of his clients who had been implanted with a cochlear implant at an early age. This little boy was at school one day and the other kids brought up the word deaf. The young boy was born profoundly deaf yet had never heard the word deaf before. He went home and asked his mom what it meant to be deaf. She explained that deaf was what it was like when they turned off his implants at night.
They also had a family come and talk that had three children born profoundly deaf. With the first child they struggled with the decision of whether or not to do a cochlear implant. At the time their deaf friends had communicated to them that cochlear implants were not well received in the deaf community. When they finally decided to get a cochlear implant they had to fight their insurance to get the funding. Finally their first child was implanted at almost three years old. Her first word came about 6 months later. When their second was born profoundly deaf as well they knew they wanted to get a cochlear implant for her as well. She was implanted at about 2. Then they had a third child also born profoundly deaf. The little boy received his cochlear implant at 1 year. They all speak well now but the little boy met his language milestones right along side his hearing peers. He spoke more clearly and with better grammar than his sisters did at an earlier age. While his oldest sister’s voice quality is still a little off the last two you would never know were deaf.
I am definitely an advocate!