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.
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