The other day someone asked me about SJ’s cochlear implants. The person I was talking with had never heard of them before. I hadn’t either before I had a deaf child. They are such a huge part of my life now that I forget that it’s not “normal” and there are still a lot of things people don’t understand about the procedure and the device.
So I had the idea to share a day in the life of a child with a cochlear implant (CI), but it would probably take a day to write so I am going to break it up a bit. We’ll start with the beginning of the day.
Keep in mind these routines aren’t the same for every child with hearing loss and things will change as each child advances in their journey, but for now this is what it’s like for SJ.
CI recipients wear their processors about the same amount that the visually impaired would wear glasses. The way it was described to me was that “The Three S’s” remind you when to take them off “Shower, Swim, Sleep” So SJ wakes up in silence. She had severe/profound hearing loss already, but when someone has the cochlear implant surgery it damages whatever preexisting hearing they had. So when the processors are off she hears nothing at all.
For now I wake her up, but many years from now when she is on her own there are special deaf alarm clocks that vibrate and there is a variety of options to choose from.
Some children may like to put their CIs on the moment they wake up. SJ doesn’t. She likes to ease into her day and have things quiet at first. I mentioned this to my family and my sister in law (who is hearing) said she is the same way. Makes sense to me. I’m not much of a morning person either.
Anyway, SJ can talk without wearing her processors. She sounds the same either way except she is usually oblivious to her volume. Kind of like when someone is wearing headphones and they don’t realize that they are shouting. So I have to remind her to speak softly when this happens. She also reads lips and signs, so we manage pretty well in the mornings before she puts her processors on. It isn’t long though before she has to be dressed and ready for school. That is when she puts her processors on.
The processor is the part that allows her to hear (shown in the photo above in white, the round part is a magnet) and the implant is inside her head (shown on the left). She calls the processors her “implants” because that word is easier to say. I wrote more extensively about the equipment in the post “All About The Cochlear Implant“.
Technically SJ can put her processors on all by herself, but it’s not easy. So for now I usually do it for her. When she is bigger they will simply hook on her ears and stay put, but right now her ears are just too small. They don’t make child size cochlear implants so a 1 year old wears the exact same processors as an adult. There are multiple options for children to keep the processors on though. SJ uses special headbands that my sister in law makes for her.
At Christmas she gave her some new sparkly ones and SJ has been thrilled to have more options to choose from.
Sometimes she doesn’t wear headbands and on those occasions we keep the CIs in place with toupee tape.
That pretty much covers the whole morning routine. After that she is hearing and ready to head out the door and go to her deaf school!