There are a lot of reasons, research, and rationale to support the need for bilateral amplification for people with hearing loss. It’s pretty much a “given” at this point in our field, though, sadly, there are still some insurance companies and even hearing healthcare professionals who lag behind the curve. What should you consider if you or your child have just one cochlear implant and are thinking about going bilateral? How do you get a second ear “up to speed” if there’s a significant gap between implant dates? Is it worthwhile to continue using a hearing aid in the other ear after you receive a CI? How can users or bilateral hearing devices get the most out of their two ears?
Common “knowledge” says that hearing happens with the ears and speech happens with the mouth, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the loop between our ears, brain, and mouth creates an integrated cycle. We only speak as well as we hear, and we only hear as well as our brain processes sound. So what often seems like a “speech issue” can really be tied to hearing. While it’s crucial to have appropriate Auditory Verbal Therapy services to help your child learn to listen and talk, it’s also important to understand how changes made in the audiology booth* can help to resolve these issues as well.
“When you get a cochlear implant, all of your natural hearing is destroyed.” This used to be the common wisdom: get a cochlear implant, forgo any residual hearing (hearing that you have without the use of hearing devices). Today, however, less traumatic surgical techniques and improved electrode arrays have proven this to be untrue. What is the most current information?
When you meet someone new, one of the first questions we tend to ask is, “What do you do?” When I tell people that I teach children with hearing loss to listen and speak, it’s a real conversation starter. Here are some of my most frequently asked questions about hearing loss, hearing technology, and Auditory Verbal Therapy. What are yours?
Opponents of cochlear implants, or CI skeptics, or even those who are neutral but uninformed often parrot the lines that “Some people just don’t do well with cochlear implants.” They say, “Not everyone gets the same results.” I’ll agree with them on those statements — they’re right. Unfortunately, we do still see large variability in the speech, language, and listening outcomes of users of cochlear implants. Where the critics have it wrong, however, is that they portray these differences in outcome as largely due to chance — unexplainable phenomena that no one can predict or prevent. Myths continue to persist that the outcomes of cochlear implantation are “uncertain,” “risky,” or “a gamble.”
Even parents who have chosen a listening and spoken language outcome for their children often ask, “Should we use baby signs?” just to fill the gap during the time from identification to cochlear implantation, or identification to those first spoken words. If you’re to believe the media hype, every parent, those of children with and without hearing loss, is doing it. So what could be the problem?
Decades and centuries ago, learning to listen and talk used to be a privilege reserved for the select few — children whose families could afford costly travel, private tutors, the best hearing technology. Today, the reality is vastly different — NO child should EVER be denied a chance at listening, speaking, and a quality education just because of her family’s inability to pay for these services.