Is a Cochlear Implant Right for My Child?

CCHAT student Kelly working with one of our Speech-Language Pathologists, Michelle.
CCHAT student Kelly working with one of our Speech-Language Pathologists, Michelle.

As a parent, learning that your child has hearing loss can be devastating. Even worse is the realization that technologies like hearing aids may not be enough.

Many families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing often have to explore other solutions – like cochlear implants. And it’s not uncommon to begin wrestling with difficult questions as you project days, weeks, or even years into your young child’s future:

  • Will your baby have a normal life?
  • Can your child succeed in school?
  • Will he or she make new friends?
  • Are cochlear implants even safe?

But at CCHAT, we know that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “YES.”

Hearing loss can be a serious challenge. And it’s perfectly natural to have worries at this stage.

But know that you’re not alone.

In fact, nearly 40,000 children in the United States use cochlear implants. And with our carefully designed curriculum and support network, your child can and will lead a happy, normal, and productive life.

But what are cochlear implants – and how do they work?

How Cochlear Implants Improve Hearing Loss in Children

The cochlea is the region of the inner ear responsible for receiving sensory input before transmitting this information to the auditory nerve. Damage to vibrational hair follicles in this area interrupt this signal, resulting in severe to profound hearing loss. This problem is most common among children and adults with sensorineural hearing loss.

Cochlear implants are small electrical devices that are surgically inserted into the cochlea. And they work by intercepting sound and stimulating the auditory nerve directly.

Receiving cochlear implants is a safe procedure, with very minor risks, including temporary bleeding, irritation, and discomfort.

But it’s important to note that cochlear implants can’t fully restore hearing. Moreover, the results can vary. And improvements aren’t automatic because it takes time for your child to associate entirely new sounds with their corresponding meaning.

And that’s where CCHAT comes in.

CCHAT’s Approach to Cochlear Implants and Young Children

We’ve designed our entire curriculum around training, practice, and acclimation to help students who are deaf and hard of hearing develop critical listening skills. And we accomplish this by immersing your child in an auditory-rich environment – complete with lessons that focus on:

  • Language systems
  • Auditory memory
  • Aural rehabilitation

In addition, CCHAT coordinates with your family, healthcare providers, and insurance company to ensure your child’s auditory needs are met around the clock.

And all of this is guided under the close supervision of highly trained staff who specialize in helping children who are deaf and hard of hearing matriculate into mainstream school. In fact, our confidence in your child’s success stems from decades of experience helping others thrive among their hearing peers.

As the case studies below illustrate, some CCHAT students begin their journeys when they’re still only a few weeks old.

Cochlear Implant Success Story 1: Brooke

CCHAT Students and Siblings, Brooke & Max
CCHAT Students and Siblings,
Brooke & Max

Brooke was diagnosed with profound hearing loss while still in the maternity ward. And by the time she was 8 weeks, she enrolled at CCHAT.

Shortly after her first birthday, Brooke received cochlear implants. She responded very well to the procedure and made terrific progress over the next few years – quickly catching up with her hearing peers academically, socially, and emotionally.

Brooke is slated to start kindergarten at her local, mainstream school when she turns 5 next year.

Her parents are so pleased with the results that they’ve also enrolled Brooke’s younger brother in CCHAT. Max has the exact same genetic hearing loss as her sister. And the family anticipates that he’ll also matriculate into a mainstream school in just a few years.

Cochlear Implant Success Story 2: Krista

Krista, a former CCHAT student and current Teacher working with the Preschool class at CCHAT.

Krista was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at 18 months. And for the next 2 years, she relied on hearing aids prescribed by her audiologist.

In 1996, at 3.5 years old, Krista joined CCHAT – the very year our doors first opened.

Within 2 years, she successfully mainstreamed into her neighborhood kindergarten school.

Years later, at age 23, she suddenly lost the rest of her hearing and was outfitted with a single cochlear implant in one ear and a hearing aid in the other ear.

Undeterred, however, Krista went on to complete a BS in Elementary Education from George Fox University (2015) – followed up with an MS in Deaf Education from Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine (2017).

After completing these degrees, Krista has returned to CCHAT – first as an intern and then as a full-time teacher with our summer program.

Krista credits CCHAT with:

“Teaching me to be confident and giving me and my family the tools to teach me how to listen and talk. Learning to listen and talk doesn’t just happen at school; it happens all day. [CCHAT was] able to give my parents the model of what to do at home and continue the learning outside of school in addition to inside school.”

Want to Learn More about CCHAT?

Both Krista’s and Brooke’s experiences are incredibly inspiring. But they’re not our only successful children. Be sure to read some of our other CCHAT success stories here.

And if your child uses hearing aids, cochlear implants, or some other assistive technology, we’d love to help them begin crafting their own success story too. With our unique approach to auditory immersion and hands-on learning, we’re confident we can help your child enjoy a happy and productive life.

To learn more about our programs for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, schedule a visit with us today.

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