Monday, December 1, 2008

RE: A Deaf Family's CI Journey

The recent CI CIRCLE NEWS blog post submitted by an Anonymous Deaf Parent of a Deaf child with a CI, who uses both ASL and English clearly addresses the preoccupations and concerns parents face when deciding for the cochlear implant. Her words go one step further in describing the additional trauma involved in making that decision when you are a Deaf parent member of the Deaf Community.

She writes:

I would rather give him a choice to either continue using or stop using the CI in the future when he’s old enough to make those types of decisions, rather than him wishing he’d gotten a CI as a child when he may have had an easier time learning to listen and speak. So I started to research CIs since we felt we had only two options for him - Option#1: CI for spoken English and ASL, Option#2: no CI, ASL only. We learned that today’s cochlear implants are much more advanced and safer technology with high reliability than ever before.

...I found the CICircle parent support group on the Cochlear Americas website and joined that group. I learned a lot of new things from the group and was very surprised to hear many success stories of deaf children with CIs. I was concerned that most of those children didn't use sign language or ASL. I later learned that they didn't need it, because they were able to speak and hear well, nearly like typical hearing children. However, I still felt that they should use ASL or at least some sign language because they would have to remove the CI during shower/bath, sleep, swimming, illness, CI failure, CI external device loss, etc. I feel like ASL/sign language would be very beneficial for deaf children starting at birth for full access to language until they receive a CI and catch up in spoken language. They could either continue signing or stop, depending on their progress of spoken language. That is just my personal opinion and I do respect all the parents’ decisions if they have researched the options for their deaf children.

I sincerely hope that one day, Deaf parents opting for the ci for their children will no longer feel the need to remain anonymous. And, I am certain that day is approaching much quicker than anyone would have ever imagined.


Drew's Mom said...

Excellent post. I'm glad to read a story like this.

Karen Mayes said...

Nice testimony. I know a Deaf family going CI in Rochester, NY and I know one Deaf family having a CI daughter who is mainstreamed now.

More and more Deaf families are pursuing the CI path... and they still retain Deaf culture as well.

Unknown said...

I have been following this discussion already because we are also all Deaf family with a 22 mos old son now showing not much interest in digital hearing aids. He has 70 to 95 db slope loss in both ears, it is really hard to decide while he already has some hearing we wonder if he is just lagging and would do alright later on.

The reason we are speculating CI for the same reason, give our child an opportunity while his brain is still more flexible and receptive to auditory input currently at the critical period of auditory language development before its window starts closing down.

Our good friend family in Tel Aviv are all Deaf with now 5 - 6 yr old twins implanted for more than 3 years. They are in public school without interpreters doing well. That family is 4th - 5th generation Deaf and they said it is really no different than having hoh or hearing kids who sign Israeli Sign Language fluently except that they have greater convenience in developing literacy skills with broader employment opportunities.

Dianrez said...

This was a nice article, but the flaw is that it is anonymous and need not be. It would carry more credibility if it was by a named author and perhaps have more influence with other Deaf parents as a result.

Unknown said...

Thank you all for your comments. Val was the person working directly with the Anonymous Mom who was extremely worried about telling her story. I guess you'd have to walk a mile in her shoes to understand why she was so worried. Anne Marie, you obviously have a support system and examples of children that will help you when you do your research and when you ultimately make the decision ci or no ci. I think a lot depends on your community and the support received by its members...but MOST of it depends on the Mom. (It helps tremendously when Dads are supportive, but when a mother decides-ain't no one stoppin' her!)

Anonymous said...

I am a deaf mom myself. My son Matthew got his implant last year. He goes to Illinois School for the Deaf and is quickly becoming fluent in ASL. He loves his implant! He speaks well also. Just because a child has a lesser degree of hearing loss/speaks well, does not mean sign language should not be considered as an option! Learning sign language and meeting deaf/hard of hearing peers opens up many doors.

My hard of hearing son (who does not have the implant or a hearing aid) also goes to the school for the deaf. He is learning sign language and is proud of it!