Troubleshooting Tough Times

What do you do when the going gets tough?  Well, there’s not one perfect answer for every CI user or every situation, but here are a few suggestions to keep in mind during difficult times:

  • Learning to listen and talk with a cochlear implant, as with learning any new skill, is a long journey with lots of peaks and valleys.  Don’t get discouraged.  Persistence is key!


  • Correct mapping or hearing aid programming is crucial — we speak what we hear, and if auditory access is compromised, it may delay speech and language progress.  Do not be afraid to ask for a second opinion, or search for a new audiologist.  Parents, if your audiologist is not skilled with pediatric cochlear implant users, search out another professional who is — working with children is as much art as it is science, and children cannot wait for access to sound!  The goal is access to the full spectrum of speech sounds at conversational levels.


  • What about hearing in noise?  What about speech perception testing?  These tests, which assess the CI/HA/Baha user’s ability to actually USE the hearing he is receiving in more realistic situations, can yield more information about the listener’sfunctional abilities.  Excellent pure-tone testing results are great, but if they do not correlate with high-levels of hearing in noise and speech perception, their usefulness for understanding speech in everyday life is limited.


  • Trust your gut and seek out a second opinion or an independent evaluation if you feel that your child’s therapists and teachers are not helping you get where you need to be.


  • …but keep in mind that most professionals are good-hearted and may have reasons for what they are doing, even if it seems crazy to you!  Keep the lines of communication open, and don’t be afraid to express your concerns to the professionals on your team.  Team is the key word here — everyone should have input and should be open to hearing feedback and working together to give the best possible experience to the child.  It’s not about adult ego, it’s about child learning.


  • Consider other factors in the child’s life that may be impacting progress.  Often, speech and language progress takes a back seat when children are working on major motor milestones, like learning to walk.  Are there family problems or social issues at school that are affecting the child’s mood?  Look for the root of the problem — it’s not always speech/language/listening-related.


  • Take an honest look at yourself.  This is the hardest part, but there are always ways in which we all can improve our own “at-home therapy” routine.  Read up on AVT techniques or ask your/your child’s teacher or therapist to give you some suggestions for at-home activities or articles to read to grow your skills.


What are your tips to others facing a tough time learning to listen and talk with a cochlear implant?  How have you helped yourself or your child “over the hump” during a rough patch?

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