Once we activate a child's cochlear implants, the journey to hearing begins. In an Auditory-Verbal therapy session with Shana Lucius, three-year-old Blaine’s mother asks him for three nouns to expand his auditory memory – fish, sheep, and lion. The hearing age of Blaine’s right ear is one year, six months and the hearing age of his left ear is one year, three months.
Take a sneak peek at Blaine’s therapy session.
Braxton received a wonderful present on his fourth birthday – the gift of hearing! Watch his cochlear implant activation appointment.
Watch Braxton’s appointment.
Elena was born happy and healthy after a normal full-term pregnancy. Although she failed her newborn hearing screen in one ear, her parents were reassured at the hospital not to worry as babies born by C-Section often have fluid in their ears those first few days. After several follow up appointments and undergoing multiple hearing tests, they were shocked and saddened to learn at four months of age that Elena had profound hearing loss – she was deaf. Elena’s hearing journey and close relationship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital began that day.
Read Elena’s story from her parents perspective.
“… Initially as parents, we were confused and overwhelmed at the thought of having a deaf child. Hundreds of questions went through our heads like: Will she ever hear anything? Will we all have to learn sign language to communicate? Will she struggle in school and life due to her disadvantages? What are these things call cochlear implants and how do they work? At diagnosis, it was pretty clear that Elena would not be a good candidate for hearing aids due to the extreme degree of her hearing loss. While watching our community’s 4th of July parade, I remember Elena asleep in her stroller as the fire engine drove by and laid on its piercing sirens. While everyone around covered their ears, sleeping Elena did not make a whimper.
Although for some in this situation the decision on what path to take can be difficult, it became clear to us very early on that the best option for Elena was for her to receive Cochlear Implants. At 10 months of age, Elena was implanted simultaneously with cochlear implants in each ear and we awaited the moment when healing would complete enough for the implants to be turned on. About one month after the surgery, Elena’s implants were turned on for the first time and we will never forget the first moments when her eyes froze as she experienced the sensation of sound that we all take for granted for the first time. This is when the real work would start and her journey had only begun.
There were many hurdles left to overcome in the coming years and thankfully we had a friend at Nationwide Children’s to lean on. A few weeks after the initial implantation, one of the incisions developed a serious infection which required her to be hospitalized for treatment. This led to six months of continued treatment and the eventual removal and successful re-implantation of one her implants. Coincidentally, during this time Elena began suffering severe breathing problems as a result of a cold and after an unexpected hospitalization at Children’s, she was diagnosed with asthma and would start nightly breathing treatments. After a total of six surgical procedures, Elena was finally healthy and immersed in training to develop her new hearing abilities in an effort to catch up to her hearing peers.
During the first couple of years of hearing, Elena attended formal speech therapy through Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus Speech and Hearing, and RIHP three to four times per week, and we worked daily with her on speech and hearing exercises at home. At the same time, she required several visits per month to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to her ENT physician to monitor progress and/or audiology to adjust and tune the cochlear implant technology. Needless to say, we got to know all of the wonderful caregivers in the Hearing Program on a first name basis. As time progressed, she passed more and more milestones and began catching up with her hearing peers and was able to decrease the number of therapy appointments necessary. At the age of three, we began putting her on a school bus daily to send her off to a local preschool that specializes in working with the hearing impaired.
We are proud to say that Elena is now six years old and is a kindergarten student at our mainstream neighborhood elementary school. She is a typical little girl, full of love and life, laughter and fun! Elena enjoys playing tee-ball, dancing, basketball, as well as playing with her dolls, reading, and shopping! Due to her typical speech ability, it is very common for those we meet for the first time to be shocked that Elena is clinically deaf. She has continued to excel in her speech and language skills due to the intensive therapy, care, and services she received through the hearing program at Nationwide Children’s and her schools over the last six years. Her recent speech therapy evaluations show her at and above the level of her hearing peers in auditory, cognitive, and speech skills. She amazes us daily in her determination, toughness, and spunkiness and it would be easy to forget her diagnosis of profound hearing loss if we didn’t appreciate the miracle of sound she has received in the gift of cochlear implants and the care of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Elena inspires many who meet her and has given hope to many families of younger hearing impaired members when they meet and observe her playing and talking like any typical six year old. As we progress along this hearing journey we are on, we know there will be challenges but we also know Elena will overcome them and Children’s Hospital will always be there for her!
Jasmine and Justin are now in college and say they owe part of their success to cochlear implants.
Learn more about Jasmine and Justin.
At eleven months old, Jonah became one of only a handful of children at that time to receive simultaneous cochlear implants. These implants gave Jonah the gift of hearing and made it possible for him to learn to speak. Now, Jonah is active in football and other athletics!
Nick doesn't remember what life was like before his cochlear implants. But all he has to do is take the implants out for a second and he knows what absolute silence sounds like. Nick says the gift of hearing was the best gift he was given. He says it all wouldn't be possible without Nationwide Children's and his parents.
Watch Nick’s story.
Parker and Addison were both born profoundly deaf. Now these siblings succeed with their cochlear implants.
Watch Parker and Addison’s story.
Shayla was born with profound hearing loss in one ear and moderate hearing loss in the other. When it became clear her language skills weren't developing with her growth, she became a candidate for a cochlear implant and had surgery at Nationwide Children's. Watch as Shayla hears for the first time with her cochlear implant, and how the team approach with the caregivers at Nationwide Children's and Shayla's family will develop her language and verbal skills for future success.
Watch as Shayla hears for the first time.