This post is made possible through the support of Cochlear. This company is a huge part of our lives and something I am very passionate about. As always all opinions are my own.
I will never forget the day we found out that our daughter SJ was deaf. The intensity of those feelings that seemed like they would always be raw have since been diluted with time. It took a good two years though to find our new rhythm.
No one in our family was deaf. So at the time all I had was a stack of books and pamphlets from the audiologist about “Understanding Your Child’s Hearing Loss.” To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. I knew nothing about hearing loss. I honestly had never even heard of the cochlear implant before. Now I don’t know how I missed it, but it just wasn’t a part of our lives at the time.
When I did hear about the cochlear implant I thought it was brain surgery, which isn’t true. I also thought it would be better to wait until my daughter was an adult and let her decide for herself whether or not she wanted cochlear implants. However, after learning so much about how critical those early years are in language development we decided we wanted her to hear. Deaf children as early as 12 months old may qualify for cochlear implants and SJ was already two and a half years old. There was a lot of time to make up for and we wanted her to hear as soon as possible.
Like I said, we didn’t have any friends or family that were deaf that I could talk to, but I heard that my friend’s dad had cochlear implants. I was desperate to hear his thoughts. So even though he lived in another state I got his email address and reached out. He told me about his hearing loss and why he chose Cochlear for his hearing implant. In short, he explained how Cochlear has an amazing track record. Cochlear has been in operation for over 30 years. They are the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. SJ and my friend’s dad have Cochlear implants, but they also provide other products such as bone conduction implants. Cochlear has helped over 450,000 people worldwide who have moderate to severe hearing loss.
Deciding to implant a hearing device into your child’s head is not an easy decision and then deciding which manufacturer she will be committed to for the rest of her life is certainly something we did not take lightly. In the end we felt like we could trust Cochlear. She’s only had her hearing implants for 3 1/2 years now, but Cochlear has gone above and beyond when it comes to partnering with us to provide SJ the opportunity to live a life without limits.
Nearly 90% of children born deaf come from parents who are hearing (source), as was the case with our family. It’s hard to know what to do and who to reach out to. If you are one of those parents, friends, or grandparents in the middle of a hearing loss journey www.IWantYouToHear.com is an incredible resource. It can ease the sting of that overwhelming shock that you feel at first. Cochlear isn’t there to pressure you into making a decision about what to do when your child has a hearing loss. That’s something extremely personal and you have to decide what’s best in your situation. However, if you have decided that you do want your child to hear they are committed to being a support for life.
When people ask me about parenting a deaf child or a child with a disability I always say the same thing.
Being a parent is a full time job. Being a special needs parent is a like working a second job on top of that.
You can’t and shouldn’t do it alone, but luckily there is help out there. I encourage you as an advocate for your child to get a support system in place. This could include doctors, early intervention specialists, teachers, therapists, and even the team at Cochlear and iwantyoutohear.com.
Another thing I say on repeat about raising special needs children (and this applies to raising children in general) is that It isn’t easy, but it is a privilege.
Speech, language, and hearing are skills that take a lot of extra effort for these precious deaf children. But as you teach them you will learn too. You will learn how to really pause, and listen, and to not take any little sound for granted.
I am truly thankful for this journey we’ve been on. I have been connected with so many amazing people along the way. I have never regretted our choice with Cochlear. We wanted our daughter to hear and now she can. We wanted our daughter to have a life with out limits and she does.