Your Kid’s Second Chance To Realize His Potential: Cochlear Implants
The first step toward change is awareness, second is acceptance.
As parents, we find it difficult to accept that anything is wrong with our kids but ignoring facts is not bliss in such cases. The sooner you can find out and the earlier you intervene, the faster you can get on the healing track.
I cannot but emphasize the importance of neonatal tests in India. Since there is no Government intervention only your doctor can advise you based on his discretion. Newborn screening is a mandatory test in most developed countries, however, in India, less than 1% of infants are screened and every year over 1.6 million babies are born with birth defects. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that anywhere from two to five out of every 1,000 children have some degree of hearing loss and a neonatal test can identify it early on in life which otherwise can go undetected for months. I recently met this family where the child was not detected till he turned 9 months and he had a 100% hearing loss.
It took grit, it took surgery, it took years of toil but Sandeepa did not give up and today, Urvin, who was born with 100% hearing loss, is not only a normal child but a gifted one. I met this family on behalf of Cochlear™ recently for their #HearingMatters Campaign and here I am sharing their story.
They did not realize till 9 months that Urvin, had any challenges but as a mom, she did feel something was odd about him. Even at nine months, his neck was not formed properly and when firecrackers burst he showed complete indifference.
“I told my doubts to the child specialist we were seeing and he didn’t say anything but asked me to get a test done at the Nanavati Hospital. The very next day I got the tests done and my world came down when I got to know that his hearing loss was 100% for both ears. We were shattered and the next few days we didn’t know what had hit us,” said Sandeepa
They mulled over it for the next 2-3 days but then just decided to start the process, he was their child and they decided that they will do anything in their power to make sure he gets the best of treatment. The road ahead was tough. They got no family support, their elder kid was just 1.5 years old and she had to spend most of her day in therapy with Urvin.
Sandeepa recollects, “We just followed everything we were told to do, not stopping, not thinking, and not cringing. No matter how tough or how costly it was!”
They got a cochlear implant done for one ear when he was 1.5 years and for the second ear at the age of 6. By the time he joined the school, with the implant and therapy he could hear and respond like any other kid.
“With the second implant, the hearing has improved considerably. Where I had to call him twice or thrice earlier, now he could hear in one go.”
Sandeepa still remembers, “Teachers and schools have been very cooperative. When the battery dies he just informs the school and teacher and they call me to come and change the battery.”
Going ahead with the conversation she also adds, “He has not faced any teasing from other kids, however, I have prepared him if kids trouble him to ask them ” Are you God gifted? No, but I am!””
While she was told that if a child can learn one language it will be good, they insisted that he should be taught Hindi as she was well conversant in that. But she decided to teach him English as that’s what is needed in the 21st century. She herself took English tuitions to teach him and now not only is he well experienced in English but actually can speak and write Hindi and Marathi as well.
He is now faring very well in both sports and academics and is on his way to becoming an all-rounder. He stood second in Olympiad held in Malaysia and has won many trophies for academic performance.
Meeting Sandeepa and Urvin was heartwarming and emotional for me. Sandeepa has devoted her entire life and routine to her son and the results show colourfully on Urvin’s success. Even diagnosing the hearing loss at 9 months put them back a little in his initial days of progress. The later such a condition is diagnosed, the more difficult for the person to learn and take therapy as the growth years of the child are lost.
WHO sheds some light, in its latest survey – Hear the Future . . . And be prepared for it.
What is a hearing loss?
A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing is said to have hearing loss. It can vary in severity. A person with mild hearing loss may find it difficult to understand conversations in noisy places such as a restaurant. Someone with moderate hearing loss has difficulty understanding regular conversations unless voices are raised. Others who have severe hearing loss are unable to hear even very loud sounds close to their ears.
What causes hearing loss?
Among children and adults:
- Infections such as meningitis, measles, mumps or ear infections with discharge
- Use of certain medicine
- Injury to the head or ear
- Exposure to loud sounds in any setting
- Listening to personal audio devices at unsafe levels
- Wax or foreign bodies blocking the ear canal
- Family history
- Infections suffered by the mother during pregnancy
- Premature birth
- Lack of oxygen at the time of birth
- Severe jaundice soon after birth
Among older people:
- Normal ageing process
- Exposure to loud sounds in any setting
- High blood pressure
- Use of certain medicines
Who needs a Cochlear Implant?
Most hearing losses under 50% can be solved with a hearing aid but for hearing loss beyond 50% you need an implant. If not sorted out soon, with age hearing loss keeps increasing. If you delay the implant, the therapy process post the surgery would become tougher. So quick action is required.
About Cochlear implants: http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/in/home/discover/cochlear-implants
Considerations before going for Cochlear implant:
While an implant seems like an apt solution, I have come to understand that it may not work in a few cases.
- It works only in severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss.
- If there is an anomaly in Cochlea, then after MRI CT Scan, the doctor will suggest if the candidate can go ahead with CI
You can read personal stories from Cochlear Recipients here: http://www.cochlear.com/wps/wcm/connect/in/home/connect/personal-stories
The process may be technical but it’s an emotional journey for the parents and the child. The kids don’t adapt to it naturally as there is therapy required to get adjusted to it. It’s not magic but it surely is a miracle that can turn your child’s life around.