My child's hearing journey
When my daughter was two and a half years old, her playschool teacher told us that she was not responding to her classroom interactions. That’s when we started to observe this consciously at home, and when we noticed her lack of response, we took her for a hearing test. At first, I couldn’t accept the results and kept thinking that the tests were all wrong. Since we had no family history of hearing loss, we were devastated, and couldn’t imagine what her future looked like.
We did a lot of research about possible solutions that could help her, until we met an ENT surgeon who gave us the confidence that cochlear implants would be her best chance of hearing. We met families of cochlear implant users whose stories gave us more confidence and hope.
Life with hearing implants
My daughter was three years old by the time she received her first implant. My fears of surgery were unfounded as she was up and about soon after surgery. The hearing process starts after “switch on” of the implants, and she spoke her first word “Papa” again after 3 months. Hearing her say “Mama” just a few days later filled me with joy and pride.
My daughter’s language development progressed at par with expectations set by her habilitationist. After understanding the benefits of how much a complete hearing experience will help her, we got her second ear also implanted within 8 months.
With bilateral implants, she can pick up sounds more accurately from different directions. It’s easier for her to communicate with the family, and she is more confident, which has improved her social skills. We have noticed that her pronunciation is clearer.
She needs less frequent follow-up therapy now. Anyone who doesn’t visibly notice she is wearing audio processors wouldn’t know that she hears differently from anyone else. She studies in a mainstream school and is doing well in her classroom. She has immersed herself amongst her peers very well and takes active part in co-curricular activities, in which she wins prizes.
My daughter can now speak fluently in two languages, English & Marathi, and is in process of learning a third language, Kannada. Since her cochlear implantation, she is communicating better over the phone.
My role as a mentor
Now that I know cochlear implants can be life-changing, I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to get cochlear implantation done at an early age. I remember the assessment process being quite overwhelming, and I had so many questions, but found comforting support from families whose children were already cochlear implant users.
I want to provide similar support to the families by sharing my experience and providing guidance, motivation and emotional support, which is as important as the medical advice from the doctors; for anyone going through a hearing journey.
My top tip
You may have many doubts and questions in your mind. Seek help from other recipients who may have faced similar challenges as yourself. Keep calm as help is always available, along with the support of your loved ones. All this will help you stay positive and focussed for the best interest of your child’s hearing journey which is about to begin.