Hearing Technology - Part II

Nov 10, 2008

You wouldn’t normally think that a hearing impaired individual would get into trouble talking in class, but one teenage boy would beg to differ.  Adam, who is 15, received his Cochlear implant at the age of 2 after a bout with meningitis resulting in his being diagnosed deaf.  Adam doesn’t feel that his implant prevents him from being just another kid.  He enjoys talking on his cell phone and says that no one at school makes fun of him and he feels very much a part of his school.

When Mardie’s mother was diagnosed with Rubella while she was pregnant, it resulted in her being born with a major hearing impairment.  Although she could not hear, her parents insisted upon treating her normally and using oral language to teach her rather than sign.  Growing up in the 1940s, there were no special education options available for a hearing impaired individual.  Mardie attended regular public schools and learned the art of lip reading.  She even went on to receive a college degree in English.

Hearing Technology (Part I of this series) by Shelly Culp was posted on November 5th.

In 1996, when Mardie was in her 50’s she received a Cochlear implant and surprisingly found many benefits that she had not thought possible.  She also worked to improve on what the implant offered her by listening to audio books, something she could have never done before and talking over the phone to friends and family.  Mardie says that listening to her family over the phone forced her to use her ears rather than relying on her very developed art of lip reading, which she had relied on for so many years.  Mardie is not only grateful for the Cochlear implant for her, but says that the invention has changed the lives of so many children.  She knows that she was very lucky growing up with parents who insisted upon her being a so called “normal” child, but she says that none of that can take the place of intervention early in a child’s life and getting implants as soon as possible.

David is another young recipient in the St. Louis area who as a teenager is reaching out to other recipients and deaf teens. David says that many teens are in regular mainstream schools and do not connect with each other.  Many recipients his age received their implants, like Adam did, when they were toddlers and went through post implant therapy, but now blend well with their peers.  His groups mission is to create relationships among teens and to just have a good time sharing stories and reaching out to new recipients.  If you are a teen recipient or are hearing impaired and would like to join David’s group, he can be contacted by email at david@stlcurbs.com .

Of course no implant recipient’s journey is complete without the full team of professionals to help him or her throughout their therapy.  The team usually consists of Audiologists who specialize in the evaluation and management of hearing aids.  There are also the Otolaryngologists, who are physicians with special training in medical and surgical treatment for children who have disorders of the ear, nose and throat.  And, of course a Speech Pathologists who helps evaluate and manage speech, language and hearing problems in children.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital just celebrated its 500th Cochlear implant in September with a party for patients and their families at the 2008 Great Forest Park Balloon Race. Six-year-old cochlear implant patient Alyson Albright and her father, Joe Albright, were also selected to ride on the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Balloon during the Race. The cochlear implant program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital is a joint program offered by St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Washington University Department of Otolaryngology. Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital have been involved with cochlear implants since the mid 1980s.

If you would like to see the experience of a child getting a Cochlear implant, the parents of  little Kevin John Kifres chronicled his journey as an infant and have it available for viewing on Youtube.
There are other videos of grateful parents sharing their stories on this site and you can find them by typing cochlear implants in the search box.

For more information about the pediatric Cochlear Implant Program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University, call 314-454-5437 or  314-454-2201 or visit www.stlouischildrens.org.  Thanks to Mardie, Adam and David for their stories.

Hearing Technology (Part I of this series) by Shelly Culp was posted on November 5th.