Reflections of a father – Part 2
This article is a continuation of a 2 part article. Part 1 can be found here
Time is of the essence here, we believe that the age of 0 to 6 years1 is critical in the development of speech for a child. Heidi was fitted with behind the ear hearing aids and we started Auditory Verbal Therapy(AVT)2 with the audiologist from the hospital. We also contacted the local support group for hearing loss and got in touch with hearing loss therapists to understand more about the ways and methods to teach Heidi. We learned simple AVT methods and started practising them with Heidi at a home. Interacting and playing with Heidi using the AVT methods took our worries away at times but we were still not fully convinced about her diagnosis. We thought it was best to get another expert opinion and hearing test done.
We went back to Singapore for a second evaluation and the results were the same. The doctor told us that the best solution is to continue AVT every week and go for Cochlear Implant3 surgery as soon as possible.
We started preparation for the Cochlear Implant operation. The operation will take about 6 hours long for both ears. We also met up with the vendors of the Cochlear Implant to better understand the pros and cons for each device4. How reliable are the devices, water resistance capabilities, noise filtering, music appreciation, impact resistance, etc. the questions seemed endless….
We were evaluating between Cochlear, Advanced Bionics and Med-el Cochlear Implants. In the end, we chose the Cochlear brand, primarily because this is recommended by our surgeon and he has had many years of experience operating with this brand. The operation is not without its risks, the skills and mental state of the surgeon will play a significant role here, forcing him to use something that he is not familiar with will just introduce unnecessary risk to the operation.
Heidi went for her operation when she was about 9 months old. I remembered meeting the surgeon in the morning (he was thankfully fit, healthy and in good spirit) and accompanying Heidi to the operating theatre and being administered general anaesthesia. The operation lasted for a full 6 hours and was a success. We will need to wait another month before fitting on the external processors and switching on the devices.
The device switch on session went smoothly, perhaps it was because that she had been hearing a bit of sounds from the hearing aids before, she wasn’t particularly shocked when she hears the sounds. I was given a big black suitcase of equipment and accessories for the Cochlear implants, a bit overwhelming for a first time user of Cochlear Implants.
We went back home and began our journey of teaching, learning, and living with Cochlear implants…
Looking back, I feel that these are the things that we did right,
- Seeking a second expert opinion and performing a second hearing test
- Coming to terms with the situation and being open about it
- Staying positive and taking things one step at a time
- Letting the child try hearing aids and going for AVT sessions as soon as possible
- Finding support from people with similar situation
- Understanding the risks of the operation and respecting the surgeon’s decision on the choice of the Cochlear Implant,
It has been 4 years since we began our journey and Heidi has grown up to be a happy and outgoing child who is able to converse in 3 different languages. We are happy and grateful for everything that has happen but mindful of the challenges that still lies ahead. There are still so much to learn and understand about hearing losses and the use of Cochlear Implant. We look forward to continuing this journey with our child and supporting her to develop to her fullest potential.
1Automated Otoacoustic Emission test: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/newborn-hearing-test/
2What is AVT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditory-verbal_therapy
3What is Cochlear Implant: Cochlear Implanthttps://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cochlear.html
4Cochlear implant comparison: https://www.cochlearimplantcomparison.com/comparisonchart