I have been supporting a family whose deaf 3year old has just had a Cochlear Implant ( a hearing device that is implanted into the cochlea to deliver a sound sensation that the brain can interpret for speech). This has been a very exciting time for us all, but a very nerve wracking and emotional time for the family. I also was able to meet the implant team in Kilmarnock (our national implant centre) to discuss the procedure and likely outcomes. Research has shown that the earlier a deaf child is implanted the more likely the success, although sucess is not guaranteed. They are now implanting at a year old! Our 3 year old will have 3 years to make up once her implant is ‘tuned’ in (one month from implantation to enable the operated site to heal)as well as trying to keep up with her peers.
Having supported the family so far I now feel that I will have to deliver strategies to ‘catch up’ the missed years, both for her nursery placement and her family. Our aim is to limit the gaps in language so that she can access the curriculum especially in the later primary years, and then into high school where I hope her choices and attainments will be limitless. A tall order? Our expectations must be high for her and support at these early stages will lay the foundations for good speech and access to language.
This child will still be deaf and need extra support throughout her education but she will also access the hearing world and have choices. Cochlear implants have proved to be successful for many users and as I learn and ecperience more of them I am amazed at the outcomes that I never dreamed would occur.