Shouting Won’t Help – CIs and Early Intervention


Ms. Bouton goes into depth in her book on the newest information on early intervention with very small children, even infants, with Cochlear Implants.

I’ve had mixed feelings about CI’s. The information I had was that individuals don’t have the same hearing as a fully hearing individual.  And the old information about implantation made it seem like a very invasive surgery.  At the same time, one of my granddaughters’ grammar school friends had a CI and seemed to hear and speak pretty normally and I know more than one attorney with a CI and they seem to do pretty well.

From the Phonak.com site

Ms. Bouton, in this 2013 book – which means it probably was compiled largely in 2012, but is still very current – brings to focus that the surgery itself is less invasive than it has been in the past, and provides information indicating children as young as six months are successfully implanted.

The outcomes for those children are remarkably like those of children with mild or no hearing loss in terms of their ability to compete in school. I was scratching my head about this and then, in a Facebook forum, an individual who is a musician and who got one CI is now testing out as having only a mild hearing impairment.  MILD?  Wow!  That is amazing.

I empathize with the anguish of the Deaf Community feeling that they are losing members born to hearing parents who have their children implanted.  I also know that it requires a lot of work with brain mapping and hearing therapy to get the brain to understand the CI version of hearing.  And yes, these kids, with the technology we have today, will  be at least mildly hard of hearing.  And yes, I know the Deaf Culture feels under siege and feels that there is nothing wrong with being deaf.

I’m also becoming aware that, except in rare cases, science will probably obliterate most forms of pre-lingual hearing loss.  Not in my lifetime, perhaps, but in my daughter’s lifetime, and certainly in my grandson’s lifetime.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look so good for the blind, from what I have read, because it seems blindness is even more complex than deafness.

Today there is still a viable Deaf Community.  I empathize with a community feeling the loss of integrity at the same time I understand that we cannot turn back time or scientific advances.  At this time however, I continue to believe that deaf infants and children deserve the best of both worlds – ASL and hearing.  I’m not the parent making the decisions, but I respect how hearing parents want their children to hear and be a part of their world in the same way deaf parents want their children to be a part of their world.  There are no easy answers.  Time and science march on

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4 comments

  1. I AM the grandparent of a child implanted early and I am here to tell you that it is NOT always the roses picture painted above! Especially if a defective implant was used! And if you asked these kids, you might honestly be surprised that some of them love to be DEAF and take the darn things out! AND talking on the phone isn’t always the thing they like to do either!

    1. Hi Been there,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! If you look back in time you’ll see my first post on CI was almost the opposite of this one. That time I had a CI doctor who came by and gently told me I was wrong.

      Each person receiving a Ci or a hearing aid is an individual and as such we never know exactly how things are going to work. Some of us have almost infinite patience while others are impatient, and so on and and so forth.

      Further, if the implant was defective (and my understanding is that in the past there were a LOT of defective implants) then that’s awful.

      I have an acquaintance who has a deaf child who has opted to stop wearing a CI and go to a school for the deaf. He’s old enough (teenager) to have experienced life with a CI and life deaf and he’s made his choice. She’s supportive of that choice.

      I don’t care much for talking on the phone myself, and younger folks don’t seem to care for it at all even if they are fully hearing! My grandkids would all rather text than phone – even my daughter. And so would I, generally. 🙂

      So I don’t disagree with you. I am commenting on the observations made in the book Shouting Won’t Help and as a LDA the author seems to be mostly pro CI. It is understandable. She has no contact with the deaf community.

      OTOH, since I do legal work and I get the willies when my client is deaf and does not have good ASL or English skills I’m all about making sure people have SOME form of language!

  2. This technology can’t work if the damage is to the nerve itself, or to the auditory centers within the brain. Therefore, the Deaf community will still have members. Further, not everybody can afford this option, and I’m sure – like with any medical procedure – there are candidacy limitations. But, let’s face it. Life is a battle, at least to some degree, and we’re all in competition with each other. Why not give those kids that can get it, a fighting chance. Every edge is an asset, and every asset is an edge. I think the technology is great – for those who can benefit from it.

    As to the blind, I’ve gone over and over, in my mind, how one could make some sort of digital ocular implant. Replacing the eyes themselves, is no problem. Getting the brain to see what the equivalent of a Webcam sends it – that’s another story.

  3. Hi David,

    Yup, if the nerve is dead (as is the case in my left ear) then a CI would not work. However, there are now brain stem implants that seem to bypass that problem. I have an acquaintance with one of those, although I believe he is still seriously hearing impaired. As I said, science keeps marching on.

    If the auditory center of the brain is gone then, of course, sound is not going to be received or processed. Further, if the Brochal region is gone then ASL won’t work either as the ability to understand language is gone. Then we’re left with what amounts to the old Trade Signs since they are not languages.

    In England people get hearing aids and CIs through the government funded health service and I think we’re crazy not to do the same. I believe that there are funding resources for those without the insurance coverage or financial resources, but I’m sure that funding is an issue for many who are interested in a CI. I’m guessing that medicaid covers it because of some folks I’ve met who were on SSI and had a CI.

    It is not a panacea and neither CIs nor brain stem implants will solve 100% of the problem of lack of hearing. I’m just noting that while the Deaf Community pans the concept of CIs that not everyone feels the same way. I think those who are late deafened would rather hear than not hear and those who have been hard of hearing would rather hear than not hear.

    If we can make implants for the deaf in the brain stem then it seems that the visual cortex is back in that area and maybe someday there can be a camera that links to the brain. I dunno. It does seem a far more complex problem than simulating hearing.

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