This post is sponsored by Cochlear the opinions and text are all mine.
By the time my daughter was one while everyone continuously asked me if she had uttered my name- or at least a variation of the word mommy- I’d consistently cast my eyes down as I’d quietly whisper, “No not yet”. Usually their immediate response would be non verbal facial expressions emitting thinly veiled masks of sympathy followed by their perfunctory statements like, “Oh don’t worry I’m sure it’s nothing.” And while they were right eventually she did learn to say my name (albeit not till she was three) I will never forget this overwhelming sense of helplessness that lingered as I waited for the words to come. Hearing her first words and stringing together her first simple sentence, well it was akin to hearing the siren sound of a mermaid's call. It was also a huge relief to see her tantrums dissipate as her outbursts were a result of her frustration over not being able to express herself through words and just TELL ME for example that she wanted a drink as opposed to screaming and her stomping her feet in front of the fridge.
I honestly think I was so busy multi-tasking (and I am still quite guilty of this) that I didn’t see the signs ( aka the incessant tantrums) she was attempting to give me. Which is why I really love the Thirty Million Words initiative geared towards parents with the hope of helping them to slow down, to tune in, talk more, take turns, close the language gap and ultimately pay attention to what their child is communicating. In a nutshell it is all about Talking More (talk with your kids to increase their vocab) and Taking Turns (encourage your kids to respond to your words/actions).
The bottom line is that as parents we all want our children to grow, develop, learn, communicate and always reach their greatest potential in all they do. And as I experienced with both my daughter and son throughout their respective growth and development processes there will be triumphs and areas of challenge for all of us who are lucky enough to claim the title of parent. Which is precisely why the Thirty Million Words initiative is so crucial in the raising of our kids.
And while my daughter's speech delays were not associated with her being hearing impaired, I can't quite imagine how particularly challenging and overwhelming it can be for a parent who finds herself and her child facing such a challenge. The good news is that in learning about the Thirty Million Words initiative I was introduced to the team at Cochlear and their life-changing I want you to hear mission which is essentially ready to help parents understand the basics of hearing, the type of abnormality their child might have, the milestones their child should be attaining at each age and the steps to dealing with hearing abnormalities including helping to find a hearing specialist in your area and learning about the possible placement of an implant or other device to improve your child’s hearing.
The team at Cochlear's mission is clear; “we all want the best for our children throughout their life.” If your child is born with or develops hearing loss, for parents, the wish for their child is immediate and clear: “I want you to hear.” You want your child to be able to develop naturally, reach full potential, be happy, talk, understand, even sing a favorite song. Most of all, you want your child to hear you say “I love you.” Keep reading for some of Cochlear's answers to your most fundamental questions and how they can support you through this journey, today and throughout your child's life. And on June 1, Cochlear is hosting a Facebook Q&A — Building Your Child’s Brain, One Word at a Time — with the Thirty Million Words team. Ask a question at the chat!
What are some of the basics about how the ear works?
Cochlear says we hear with our brains, not our ears. The ears capture sound and provide the natural pathway for that sound to be transmitted to the hearing nerve where it is translated by the brain. It’s an amazing process.
The parts of the ear and their function is as follows:
1.Outer Ear: Sounds enter the ear canal and travel to the eardrum.
- Middle Ear: These sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, sending the bones in the middle ear into motion.
- Inner Ear: This motion is converted to electric impulses by tiny sensory hair cells inside the inner ear (cochlea).
- Hearing Nerve: These electric impulses are sent to the brain, where they are perceived by the listener as sound.
When your child is diagnosed with hearing loss, it means that not all parts of the natural hearing pathway are working properly.
Why is it important to obtain early intervention?
Early intervention matters because for hearing impaired children, the sooner they receive access to sound, the sooner they are able to learn to listen and speak like other children. Early intervention can lay the foundation for the development of fundamental language skills and can set your child up for success in school.
Why can’t a child just wear a hearing aid?
For children with severe to profound hearing loss, hearing aids might not be enough for them to understand sounds and learn speech. Their cochlea, or inner ear, may be damaged to the point where amplification alone may not provide them access to sounds. With a more severe hearing loss, a cochlear implant may be the best option for your child. Children with severe to profound hearing loss should try hearing aids before cochlear implants to determine whether hearing aids provide enough benefit.
What is the benefit of the Nucleus implant system?
The Nucleus Implant System can help make sounds not only louder, but clearer, which is critical to help your child understand sound and learn to talk. Cochlear Implants are widely recognized as an established treatment for children with severe to profound hearing loss.
With the Nucleus 6 System, children with severe to profound hearing loss can gain access to the world of sound, and speech may be learned at the same pace as other hearing children
According to the team at Cochlear: “How it works is truly amazing.”
- Microphones on the sound processor pick up sounds, and the sound processor converts them into digital information.
- This information is transferred through the coil to the implant just under the skin.
- The implant sends digital sound signals down the electrode into the cochlea.
- The hearing nerve fibers in the cochlea pick up the signals and send them to the brain, giving the sensation of sound.
Where can you find a professional that can help your child?
Cochlear will help you find a hearing specialist in your area and then your child will be evaluated to determine if the level of hearing loss qualifies for a cochlear implant. A medical professional such as a hearing implant specialist, an audiologist or doctor will determine candidacy and answer medical specific questions. One can find a hearing implant specialist by clicking on “Find a Hearing Specialist” at the top left of the I want you to hear page.
What will you need to do during the evaluation?
To obtain a hearing implant, one must be a candidate and qualify for the device. There will be medical and audiological assessments, including X-ray scans and possibly an MRI to help determine whether a cochlear implant is appropriate and which type should be used for your child. All cochlear implants are designed to restore access to sound in a similar fashion, yet there are noticeable differences between devices.
Will your insurance cover the cost of an implant?
Medical insurance may be an important issue. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants may be covered by your insurance plan including Medicaid. Consult with your insurance company as soon as possible regarding eligibility of coverage for your child. If your child qualifies, the cochlear implant team will discuss benefits and risks with your family and schedule the surgery once insurance approval is obtained. Cochlear can help with your questions and coverage issues you can call Cochlear OMS Insurance Support 1-800-633-4667 (option 4) or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
What happens after the implant is placed?
After your child gets the appropriate implant device over the next several months after activation, your child will have a series of appointments with the audiologist to adjust and fine-tune the sound processor's programs to help ensure optimal hearing performance and that progress being made is meeting your expectations. Rehabilitation will also occur outside the audiologist's office. Cochlear understands that things can happen though, and when they do, you'll find comfort with their 5-year “no questions asked” warranty as well as a one-time loss replacement policy. Being a member provides you and your child access to information 24/7, which gives you added peace of mind that you can have answers and support whenever and wherever you are.
For those who already have the device, a Cochlear customer service representative can be reached at email@example.com or 1-800-483-3123.
How long has Cochlear been helping patients?
Since 1978 more people have chosen Cochlear than all other hearing implant companies combined. Today we work with over 2,000 hearing professionals around the world and with more than 100 research partners in 20 countries to keep the breakthroughs coming for your child. As a member of the Cochlear Family, you will have access to the latest product information, promotions, discounts and personalized resources that help your child get the most out of the Nucleus System.
Armed with this information you will now be equipped to begin to tackle all the challenges that you may face if you find out your child is hearing impaired with a renewed sense of hope and power!