My daughter’s first cochlear implant was done when she was 3 years old. When I made the decision to put in a cochlear implant, I was also making the decision to make her completely deaf. She would have absolutely no hearing in the implanted ear when the cochlear was off. This is a sweet video of a young boy whose implant was turned on for the first time https://youtu.be/9EVNfd1igoE. This was not AT ALL how it went for us. My daughter cried, didn’t like it, threw it off, had a massive temper tantrum and peed on the floor. I was lucky for the fact that she was already at the age of three in a school for the deaf and hearing impaired. I knew I had to leave a lot of this to them to get her to wear the cochlear. I was fortunate for the services I received. This was a great school for her that not only got her to wear the cochlear but started teaching her what kids her age were already doing.
All my milestones were different. She must’ve been 4 years old the first time she ever said, “mommy I love you.” I almost crashed the car. When you deal with a kid with hearing loss, you as a parent, have to learn how to speak. I had to learn not to speak with my back to her, to speak slower, annunciate and make sure she understood. These are things I learned through the school for the deaf and through her speech teacher. She went into the mainstream school in the middle of kindergarten. She received support services everyday from a teacher of the deaf and speech teacher. She was 6 when I decided to get her right ear a cochlear implant. She is now completely deaf when they are off. However the last audiologist test in her right ear, showed mostly profound anyway.
She felt singled out in elementary school. She was either pulled out for the teacher of the deaf services, or they did it in the class with her. It was difficult for her as she’s grew up because she started to feel different. She would never wear her hair up because she would never want anybody to see the implants. She would never want to talk about it. Kids are mean, she didn’t want to be different, and she was. The worst part was when she would cry and ask WHY, she had to be deaf. It was definitely a very tough beginning. She had to work very hard and was very behind. She had to train each ear to hear, it isn’t automatic like we hear. It’s prosthetic hearing. She was tested every year to see where she stood against kids in her age bracket. Each year that gap would get a little smaller.
In seventh-grade things started changing a little, she went to the middle school. She tried out for cheerleading and made it. She had a small group of friends and was slowly building confidence. That was what was lacking in elementary school. When she got into the high school, by 10th grade she made varsity cheerleading. They were only two people in their sophomore year that made varsity, she was one. She is a tumbler and has been taking private gymnastics lesson since about seventh-grade. She started dating a boy in 10th grade and they are still dating today. Now her hair is up all the time. She purposely will take off he cochlear to show people. She tells people she’s deaf all the time. When I’m yelling at her sometimes I’ll see her put her hand in her hair, her sly way of moving the cochlear off her head so she doesn’t have to hear me. I laugh because I know all the tricks. My daughter literally has the ability to turn off her hearing. She has the ability to have no sound whatsoever; not a bird chirping, not an alarm going off, not a dog barking, not a mother yelling and it’s something now she’s learned to appreciate.
In Second grade, she was having one of her worst years, I said to her teacher of the deaf “how will I ever get this kid into college?” Her teacher turned to me and said “let’s first get her through second grade, and worry about college next year”. Here we are she graduates in less than a month and is going to John Jay College in August. She’s graduating high school with a Regents diploma all caught up. She’s graduating high school being on honor roll all 4 years. I would say that’s pretty remarkable from where we started out. People have commented to me how strong I am having multiple sclerosis, that’s just because they don’t know my daughter’s story. She is the strong and brave one. Look at her story and she’s only 18. I’m amazed everyday at what this girl has accomplished. Her story is a triumph in my eyes.