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“Deaf Cochlear Implant User” All About You – Episode 16 with Toby Coleman

Welcome to the All About Audiology Podcast- episode 16- another All About You episode because one of the main reasons I’m doing this show, is so you feel less alone, more educated, and empowered to be the very best advocate for yourself and your loved ones wherever you are on this hearing journey. I’m Dr. Lilach Saperstein, educational audiologist.

The last episode titled “All About Sign Language” in which I interviewed Kimberly Sanzo was well-received by so many of you. And I really appreciate the comments on Instagram and on allaboutaudiology.com where the post is, as well as full transcripts of each episode.

Next week’s episode, we are going to be talking “All About Cochlear Implants” and I’m going to explain how they work, a little bit about the process and I’m also going to include an interview with a mother who has two children who are implanted and hearing more about her journey. First I’m going to share with you some of the comments that came in about last week’s sign language episode. And for today, I also wanted to bridge the two episodes together, sign language and cochlear implants and really show that the either/or doesn’t have to be there.

So I invited my friend who really exemplifies this. Her name is Toby Coleman. She is an implant user and you’ll hear all about her story and she says that she has one foot in the hearing world and one foot in the deaf world. So I hope you’ll listen to last week’s episode if you missed it, all about sign language and that you’ll stick around again for next week’s episode, all about cochlear implants, and that we can really learn from Toby about how in her life she’s been able to integrate both of these parts into her identity and her life. And before we jump into that I will first share a couple of comments. Thank you to everyone who sent in comments and being part of the #AllAboutAudiology community.

Alicia commented on Instagram: “This episode was fantastic! It makes me so sad that NO ONE from our medical team mentioned the option of ASL. In fact, we were discouraged from using it for our son. Thankfully, we did our own research and decided that learning ASL was the right choice for our family. It was so refreshing to hear this point of view discussed on a medical podcast. Thank you for being open and judgement-free!”

Alicia, thank you so much for your comment. THIS is the reason I do the podcast. It’s because I saw so many parents in your position who wished they had been better informed just to have been given the options and then being allowed to do your own research and coming to your own conclusions to do what works for you and your family like you said. I always believe, Knowledge is power!

Ariella commented on the blog: “I think it’s crucial for Kimberly to think about how she uses shaming words like “tiger mom.” Not only is she furthering the divide between groups whose ultimate goal is a deaf child’s well-being, but it is also that same “tiger mom” dedication that gives a person strength to fight for her child to have access to sign language and to go against the COUNTLESS professionals who say not to.”

Thank you Ariella for sending in this comment. I really appreciate that you are able to voice your opinion here. Whatever it is that you would like to say, you will be heard around here. I think it’s always tricky when we are passionate about an important issue and we are also at the same time trying to consider the connotations of the words that we use. I appreciate you bringing this up and I think that our use of the expression “tiger mom” was more of a way to express tenacity and passion and go-getting and was in no way trying to be shameful or derogatory towards anyone’s decisions. And I hope that I came through as well. I appreciate you bringing this up so we can all be more mindful and thoughtful of the words that we use. Thank you for listening and commenting and as I always say, this goes for all of you listeners, if you think there’s a point of view being left out, or a piece of constructive criticism, then please reach out and share it with me. We should all be learning from each other.

Another topic that came up in the comments was how to access exposure to native sign language, if you are hearing parents, everyone you know is hearing, you’ve never met a deaf person before… So if you are interested in exposing your child to native sign, where are you going to find native sign language users to help you with that. So there are some states that offer what’s called a “Deaf Mentor” through Early Intervention, so try and see if that’s offered in the state or country that you are in. And unfortunately for the states or places that don’t offer that, you can always reach out to the local community where you are. You can try contacting people at Schools for the Deaf in your state, and they would have contacts within the community or of teachers who will be able to do such a thing.

I know that there are some mommy and me kind of programs in the deaf education school. So even if it’s an elementary school they might have an infant program or something like that. You can also look up deaf clubs in your area. With all the Facebook groups and meetup groups and all these things, you can do some research and try to get in contact with the right people. I’m sure you would fin the right people who are willing to help. And another way you can find access to sign language tutors is by contacting sign language schools and interpreter training programs. So through those contacts you might find interpreters or sign language teachers or hearing people who are also fluent in sign and that might be appropriate for you. So thank you for the comment, I wish you good luck with finding the resources that you are looking for.

So now, onto our interview with a cochlear implant user, who is also a fluent signer, who has her Masters degree in Special Education, who is expecting her first child soon, my friend Toby Coleman:

LS: “Welcome Toby to the All About Audiology podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?”

Toby: “Oh, I love talking about myself. Let’s see. I’m 27 years old, I’m married to my husband, Moshe Mordechai and we are living in Baltimore right now. I’m a teacher at a special needs inclusive preschool and it’s a wonderful experience working with children and I absolutely love it. What else do you want to know? Oh, very important, I have cochlear implants.”

LS: “Well I wanted to get a sense of the whole journey for you and also what your thoughts are on the decisions that were made for you when you were a baby. How old were you when you were implanted?”

Toby: “Okay, so my first one on my right side I got implanted when I was three years old in 1994. My left side I got implanted in 2013.”

LS: “Can you tell us a little bit about your family and what the decision was like for your parents and their connection to deaf culture and ASL?”

T: “Okay, alright.”

LS: “Just start for the beginning!”

T: “Get ready for a long rant. (both laughing) So basically in my family there are six of us, I have four brothers and one sister. Myself and my sister are the ones that have cochlear implants. My father’s parents were also deaf so yes, there is deafness in the family. We have connexin 26, I believe that’s what it’s called. So my grandparents spoke in sign language to each other so therefore my father knew sign language and he was very involved in an organization called, Our Way, which is an outreach program for the deaf in the Jewish community. And he helps them getting services, meeting other Jewish (7:44) deaf, being together all over the United States, Canada and in Israel. Yeah, he’s been everywhere, I’m kind of jealous of him. I wish I can travel too.”

LS: “So your father, he’s hearing?”

T: “Yes, he is hearing. So my father’s a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and my grandparents were deaf and they knew sign language and that was the language that was spoken in the house. My mother became a special-ed teacher. She really knows first hand about what goes on. So basically after three of my brothers were born, they were all hearing, my sister was born. Life went on as normal, they didn’t know she was deaf until she was 18 months old. My mother realized that something’s not right, she wasn’t responding. And sure enough she was deaf. They gave her hearing aids and then eight years later, I have a brother and then I came along, sure enough hearing tests came on the screen and tadam, I’m deaf. My parents wanted me to be able to use all the technology out there, all the resources out there to help me be part of the world. To have access to everything that everybody else is doing. That’s what we call the “hearing people”. I became involved in everything to not be so isolated or left out.

At that time cochlear implants was fairly new, it was like ten years old kind of thing. People were still hesitant and were not so sure but my parents did a lot of research and they felt that it was important. They gave it to me when I was about four years old. Do I remember the surgery? No, I do not. I just remember that my head was heavy in a white bandage and that was it. So I had been wearing my cochlear implants and then a few years later, my sister, who is eight years older than me, got it when she was 12. So I got Advance Bionics cochlear implants in one ear and my sister got nucleus (Cochlear Americas) for one ear and we both got mainstreamed in regular schools. We had oral interpreters which means they sat next to us in the classroom and they basically repeated what the teacher was saying. They are kind of like note takers/repeating.

We had tremendous amount of speech therapy. We had it at least five times a week. At that time we had to go to the therapist’s house or to the clinic and my parents would drive like an hour each way just to get us therapy. They really did so much for us and I’m grateful for the effort that they put in to us and it really paid off.

And then basically we got older and their philosophy is very much ‘deafness is not an excuse’. Just because you can’t hear, does not mean that you can’t do anything. It’s not an excuse. At the same time it’s a certain pride that was instilled in us. I don’t know how they did it but it worked. There’s a certain pride that you are deaf, even though you can’t hear, you can still accomplish and do it and conquer the world. They supported me all the way through. If I needed help they got help for me. They encouraged me and they didn’t let anything stop me.”

LS: “What communication mode was being used at home if you got it only at age four and she was 12, so prior to that were you using sign language at home? You have hearing brothers, was it both?”

T: “Very good. Very good. So basically, it’s very interesting that you asked that question. Remember I mentioned that my grandparents were deaf. My grandmother never moved her mouth when she signed, like she didn’t have a voice. So basically I was starting to sign a little bit and a mixture of cued speech. It’s a little bit different than sign language. It was like an experimental stage to see what can happen. So I looked at my grandmother and saw that when she used her hands she didn’t talk so I used my hands and I didn’t talk and the only way to get me to talk was to put your hand over my mouth. My parents saw that and said that this has to stop. They stopped using sign language and cued speech so I started talking normally again. But then when I got older I picked up sign language again from my father’s organization and having deaf friends, so I started picking it up.

The communication mode at home was basically talking. We all knew some level of sign language because my father would sign to us, not all the time, but it was like a second language in the house. He would talk to my grandmother in sign language. But the main mode was talking. Like if I would say to my mother, ‘What, what?’, she would say ‘Toby, go put on your implants and then we can talk.’ Grrrrr. That’s how it was basically. My sister and I knew signing the most out of all of my siblings. So we would sign to each other when our implants were off and my father would also sign. And now that I’m married, my husband is hard of hearing which means that he wears hearing aids. He also grew up orally, so we both talk and sign at the same time so it’s nice.”

LS: “That’s wonderful. You mentioned that you were grateful to your parents for giving you all those therapies and really being dedicated to getting you oral and having access, and everything. But was there ever a time that you resented it or you didn’t want to do it anymore, or you just felt like they were pushing you too hard to be oral when maybe you would have preferred to be left alone and used ASL as your mode and felt like maybe the deaf identity was stronger?”

T: “Right, so I have had my moments many times through life like that. First of all, I HATED therapy. I never wanted to go. Especially being in the car for so long. No, no. I did not like therapy but I always put up with it. It’s only now that I appreciate it. Believe me I was kicking and crying. As for deaf identity, I did struggle with that a lot because I felt more comfortable with the deaf people, I felt like I had something in common with them. We both couldn’t hear so we used sign language, it was so much more relaxed.

When I’m in the hearing world, I have to pay attention to everybody because I have a cochlear implant and you have to focus more, it’s not OK and it makes you a little bit self conscious when you can’t hear somebody. It’s a little bit like, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t hear what she said, what if it was a question, what if it was an answer. I don’t know.’ It’s always on your shoulder, even though you might not notice it as much. Paying attention more and it’s just more intense. So there are points in my life where I’m like forget it, I don’t want this anymore. Just leave me alone. My parents understood me. They understood that it was frustrating at times but you know, they really told me that I can do it. I didn’t really have that much of a choice though. They weren’t going to switch me to a deaf school, even though I asked once or twice, it wasn’t going to happen. At least they heard me out.

This is what I used to describe to them. I had one foot in the hearing world, I had my hearing friends and I had the education of the hearing world, the school system and stuff like that and then I had my other foot in the deaf world, where it was so sweet and I was much more outgoing, much more comfortable and it was so much more fun. It’s a hard balance; the feeling of where do I belong? I had an identity crisis and I guess you could say I found my way. Each go through a guided path and then you realize as you get older it’s your friends that are more important. You know who your friends are and where is education more helpful. We take the best of both worlds and you combine it together.”

LS: “That’s amazing. That’s quite the journey. I think we can all relate to being teenagers and having an identity crisis of one form or another and this is a really complex set of circumstances. So now looking back, what advice would you give young people who are going through that or what would you tell parents whose children are going through that? What’s the best way, because you seem to feel that your parents did an okay job, which is pretty amazing.” (laughing)

T: “Yes, yes. Okay, so advice for teenagers, people going through these things. Don’t give up, I know, I know it’s hard. Just don’t give up. Just focus on the friends that you have, just focus on that and try to have a good time because at that time in life, that is the most important thing…I don’t think they are going to listen. I wouldn’t listen to anybody if I was a teenager, but yeah.

It’s hard, definitely hard and what we go through is our challenge and then the next person over who is hearing is going through a different challenge that they need to get through. We don’t have that challenge. We have a different challenge and this is the challenge of our moment.We just got to get through it. That’s my advice to them.

As a parent, I would say it’s really important to be able to communicate with your child. Communicating means if your child is saying ‘what, what’ all day long to you and cannot understand you and you are repeating yourself 5000 times, obviously there is no communication there. You know what I mean? Find a way to communicate with each other because there is always trial and error all the time. You’ve got to do it, and take the risks in trial and error. Whether it’s reading lips. If the child is still not being able to understand you by the second time like this, then you gotta switch to a different communication method. Go take courses, ASL, American Sign Language. Learn a few words and see how your child responds. If he gets it, then great. Please learn it for your kid. I know there is a stigma, of ‘Oh my goodness, what are other people going to think? Who is going to sign for her in this store or that store?’ I’m strongly against it because that makes your child feel very self conscious and have low self esteem. It’s going to be hard to encourage the child to want to be successful in life. It’s really important. I can say it over and over again. It’s so important.

I understand where you have a baby and the baby is diagnosed with being deaf and you don’t know what to do. After a bunch of steps, when the child is six months or a year or two years and you see that you guys are not bonding well enough or there is something lacking and the child isn’t paying attention or is frustrated, find a different way! Whether it’s through speech, whether you make sure you two are facing each other, whether it’s American Sign Language, find something. Make up your own sign language in the house so that you can communicate with each other. It frustrates me so much that there’s this deaf child in the home with a family and he’s just left out or the parent says, ‘Go to bed, take a bath, shower, eat your dinner…’ There’s no bonding time, asking how was your day today, ‘Oh you got into a fight with someone today?…’ “

LS: “You’re absolutely right. That’s for sure such a difficult challenge for a family that is not able to communicate with their child. So are you speaking to the idea of some people that went and did the implant, and doing Auditory Verbal Therapy six times a week and they are just not willing to budge from that perspective? That’s what you are talking about?”

T: “Yes, it’s from that perspective, yes. While the cochlear implant is supposed to do the magic trick. Cochlear implants is a fantastic technology, you can talk on the phone, in variation, different patients that have cochlear implants but for the most part people can talk on the phone, people can work and do all different kinds of things, be integrated into the hearing world. But you know what, we’re struggling also, we want to be able to talk with our family without that struggle.”

LS: “Yeah, I like the way you described before the effortless way that it’s just so much easier, it’s relaxed to not have to force and strain. So with the implant, would you say that you are tired more, or things like that. What’s the experience like throughout the day?”

T: “Yes, so I put it on in the morning when I go to work, and when I come home, my implant goes off. I need it off. I don’t get a headache but it’s just more of like this, ahhh (feeling) when I take off my implants, it’s quiet time. You know how you go to a wedding and the band is playing so loud and then you walk outside and you are like ahhh? When you are at the wedding you are straining to hear the person next to you and you say, ‘I can’t hear you, it’s just so loud.’ Your brain is processing twice than a hearing person’s brain is processing because you read the person’s lip and you heard the person so you have to see what the person is saying and now you have to respond. It’s like an extra step there, you know. I think most of us are pretty quick about it, but it’s just there even though it takes a second. It’s draining.

What I describe to people about how we can hear through our cochlear implants is that it’s like listening to a radio. You can hear the person talking on the radio but it’s not the same as hearing them in person. It’s like this mechanical thing that if you hear it differently but you still hear the person but you can’t make the person louder and the background softer because the radio is on one setting. So you might have to strain a little bit just to hear the radio clearly like what the person is saying as opposed to hearing them straight up in the face.”

LS: “Wow, that’s a good example. That helps to think about it. Can you tell us a little bit about having one implant growing up pretty much and then getting your second one in your twenties?”

T: “Basically this is the part where I get very opinionated so you’re going to have to bear with me and you are more than welcome to disagree. So I was always hearing from one ear because I had one cochlear implant. And then I started working and I realized that I wasn’t hearing everything. It was getting emotionally draining. I did not wear my hearing aids in this ear, I did not. My audiologist said, ‘I’m sorry Toby I can’t make you any more maps because you’re hearing very well.’ So she suggested I should get a second implant and it would balance it out.

Warning! When you get a cochlear implant you lose the hearing that you previously had, even if it’s ‘this much’ that you can’t even see the gap, it’s there and it’s crucial. That’s what I got to tell you. When you get a cochlear implant, it destroys it completely. I did not realize that. I did not even know that I had hearing in this ear before I had the surgery. I didn’t realize. I thought it was like a sixth sense that a deaf person had. Wow. News flash! It isn’t a sixth sense, it’s the little tiny drop of hearing that was left in there that I heard but I felt it, I heard it but I didn’t realize that I had it.

It was devastating when I had the surgery for the second ear. I could not feel the person behind me, walking up behind me. I couldn’t, I didn’t realize that there was this person. This is without my cochlear implant. Or if there was a bus zooming by, I should be able to know that there was a bus behind me. I thought it was a sixth sense but it was not. It was that loud motor that somehow got through my brain. That little bit of hearing was processing in my head that there was a bus behind me because it was so loud, I actually heard it. It wasn’t a sixth sense that I always assumed I had. With the second surgery, because I did not wear my hearing aids all of these years, it was not so successful. It’s used for environmental sounds, basically saying that there’s someone over there that probably wants my attention or that I should turn my head. That’s pretty much what it’s for.”

LS: “Do you use both of them now?”

T: “No, I do not. First of all, I got it when I was older. I just felt like I didn’t have time in my life to be busy with my cochlear implants and practice with my speech and stuff like that. No. I was expecting it to be more like my first one and it wasn’t and I wasn’t prepared for that I guess you can say. I was just very disappointed. My audiologist now is telling me that now that the years went by and there’s enough clients that you’re able to tell the difference between people that use their hearing aids and people that don’t and their age and this and that. Now they have more answers and that was the answer that I got recently. I’m satisfied with that answer so if I wear it again, I’m going to know that it’s for environment and I’m not going to get my speech recognition.”

LS: “Wow! You are amazing! Thanks so much for being so open and talking about all of this with me and with our audience.”

T: “Hello everybody. Yes, yes! That’s no problem. Oh wait, can I add one more really opinionated thing?”

LS: “Of course, that’s why you’re here!”

T: “I’m just going to say it as a deaf parent, alright, just to give another perspective from hearing to deaf: I don’t have children yet, one is on the way but it gets me nervous when babies get their cochlear implants when they are really really young, we are talking about six months or a year old. They do it really fast, and I’m like woah, the baby’s head…I mean me as a deaf person with a cochlear implant, I got it when I was four years old. I don’t know if it’s really necessary that you have to rush it to six months. I mean, don’t you want to enjoy your baby the way they are until maybe like a year old and then give them the cochlear implant? Because, what, do you want to start running around for speech therapy and cochlear implants and stuff like that.

I would encourage very much just like OK maybe hearing aids just to put on and off and just use baby sign language with them. It’s so cute when they give you their little hands and they respond back. There is so much communication going on there and you’re not even busy with cochlear implants and ‘Oh, can he hear or not hear? I don’t know. And I have to go back to the audiologist, I don’t know what are all these wires, is the battery dead, I don’t know’ and then you start crying. Just relax enjoy your baby for the first year if you can. My opinions are very opinionated so ignore me if you want to. Baby sign language, doesn’t have to be professional sign language: want some cereal, want some soup, I love you, butterfly, more, milk….And they respond back even faster.”

LS: “I think what you are saying is that you want people to not rush and think that they have to do this one option as fast as possible and just to take a minute to just enjoy their kid. But I think the urgency where that comes from a lot of times is because the surgeon or the audiologist would tell them that the sooner you get it in, the more time their brain will have to learn it and the younger they are, the better and there is research to back that up but I can definitely appreciate your advice to not rush to give it like tomorrow when they are born.”

T: “Yeah I know I’m going against everyone here, but yeah. It’s always best to follow doctors’ advice so I can’t argue with that.”

LS: “The difference between an extra six months or an extra year, like getting implanted at a year or 18 months or getting implanted at 24 months. Those differences are a little bit this way and a little bit that way. Have you and your husband talked at all about your kids and what expectations you have?”

T: “Yes. So we have spoken about it. First of all we don’t know what we are having. If we’re going to have hearing or deaf children, we don’t know. It’s all in God’s hands. We have spoken about it and basically we want to make sure that we get communication across. That’s our main goal. To be able to talk about our day, understand our children and work with them, to be there for them. We want to sign to them in the home and depending on the child; if the child isn’t so comfortable with their parent signing outside of the home, then we will definitely respect that. We’re trying to figure it out because one parent should have the voice off when they are doing sign language. That’s for like professional, fluent-. We’re having a hard time because we both talk and sign at the same time. When the time comes, it might have to happen that one of us will have to have the voice off while the other one talks and my husband is thinking about having his voice off. He’s thinking about it. We’ll try our best and that way the child will talk to my husband in sign language and talk to me and have both languages and we can both understand the child. That’s from my communication perspective.

From the child perspective if it’s hearing, great. If it’s deaf, about getting cochlear implants and hearing aids and stuff like that, I guess I was very opinionated before and I would wait a little bit maybe like a year. Just to be able to enjoy the moment and not run after speech therapy whatever, all this craziness about cochlear implants and then I would possibly think about cochlear implants because my husband is more mild in the deaf culture more than I am, so we might have to figure out our differences there. But in my personal opinion, I think that the child should get a cochlear implant. I think cochlear implants are crucial depending on how much hearing you have of course. If you have much more hearing than deafness, whatever it is, percent of hearing, talk to your audiologist.”

LS: “Would you say that you are more comfortable in general with deaf friends and community members or with hearing people?”

T: “Okay, good question. When I was younger I was more comfortable with my deaf friends and community. I’m much more comfortable now as an adult. I’m more comfortable with the hearing people but I enjoy being with my deaf friends and being part of the community. It’s just that there’s this specific group in deaf culture which is called the “Big D” which I stay away from because I don’t agree with their philosophies and stuff like that and they can tend to get angry. So I just don’t talk about it, we’re friends kind of thing. Somethings we just avoid because we have different opinions about it.”

LS: “What’s the crux of the disagreement. That fact that you have implants?”

T: “Well, I’m very lucky. For some reason the deaf of the “Big D” community talking about my group of friends, not the whole Big D, they accepted me even though I have my cochlear implant. I guess it’s because I knew my sign language and talk to them like normal people. I didn’t look down on them I didn’t say, ‘I know more than you or I can hear better than you.’ I don’t talk on the phone in front of them because I know they can’t hear, so I’m not going to do that. I try to be respectful of them.

Where we get in disagreement is about sometimes we talk about deaf education or deaf awareness. I tell them in order to bring more deaf awareness you need to teach hearing people and educate them what the deaf culture is about. If you are going to turn up your noses to the hearing world and be mad at them for being hearing that’s not going to help you. And they say ‘No. They should already know before they come in to talk to us.’ I’m like, ‘the way to get them is to bring them in and show them your culture, teach them sign language and they’ll be able to help us. ‘Well we don’t need help from them.’ and I’m like ‘Hello we need interpreters, interpreters have to be hearing…’

That’s where we get into this. They live in a bubble and think the whole world should be deaf. They have this deaf pride in them which is amazing but you gotta share your pride a little bit and spread it to others and inspire the hearing world and make them feel welcome. That’s where it really all nails down to. At the workplace, everyone should understand me, I don’t have to go around making myself understood. I have a cochlear implant and I didn’t have to go around making sure I get myself understood. If I answer the wrong question or say something different then I’m not going anywhere.”

LS: “Wow, thank you! Thank you!”

T: “It’s great and thank you for asking me to be interviewed.”

LS: “You are awesome!”

Wow, thank you so much to Toby again. What a fabulous conversation and getting an inside look at her experience and the way that she’s been able to integrate being part of the hearing world and being deaf and using the cochlear implant and succeeding in the hearing work place. I’m really grateful that she was open and was able to share her experiences with us.

So I just have a couple of notes on some things that we mentioned throughout our conversation. When she got the implant that was over 20 years ago and many changes have come since then. There are new implants that actually do preserve some of the hearing if there is hearing remaining and there are different outcomes. Everyone has a different outcome that is unique to them. There are so many factors that are going to affect how somebody does with the cochlear implant, how old they were when they got it and their general cognitive ability and how committed they are to mapping appointments and do they attend all the therapy sessions, are they able to have access to the therapy… There are so many different factors that go into someone’s “success” with the cochlear implants to be able to use it for speech perception and speech understanding. Everyone’s outcomes are going to be unique and there is no way to know prior to getting it and prior to going into the whole journey to know what the future is going to hold. There are some factors that we know are predictive of success but we can never know.

Also the age when a baby can get implanted also has changed over the years. It used to be that children were much older when they were even identified as being deaf at two or three years old when they were not speaking. And now thanks to the newborn hearing screening we are doing identifications much much earlier and getting children hearing aids very soon and being able to do candidacy evaluations much earlier in life. I believe that the current recommendation is that around the 10-12 month window is an ideal time because the baby is old enough for a stable surgery and it’s also early enough to maximize the neuroplasticity that we have during infancy.

So definitely join us next week for the All About Cochlear Implants episode. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about cochlear implants and we are going to be talking about a lot of them and talk about the process and how they work and all of that, in addition to hearing from some of your experiences. So as always send in your comments or questions you have about the upcoming topic. You can always reach me @allaboutaudiology podcast on Instagram and Facebook and at allaboutaudiology.com .

I’m Dr. Lilach Saperstein and this is the All About Audiology podcast.

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Comments · 2

  • Rivky Klein · June 2, 2019

    Hi! I just listened to this podcast. As a mother of a child with cochleae implants I was very puzzled by Toby’s idea of waiting it out and learning sign language. My son was implanted at 6m old, has had 45 min of therapy once a week since and is fully speaking and hearing like any normal child. He doesn’t say what more often then average, isn’t busy with therapy all day, and our dr promised us he didn’t destroy any of his hearing he may have already had. My son was saying words by a yr and sentences by 15m old. He knew the alef beis and the alphabet before he turned 2. So I’m a big advocate of implanting early because the results are amazing!

    • Lilach Saperstein · June 2, 2019

      Hi Rivky, I’m so happy to hear things are going well for your son. Thank you for sharing your experience here because that’s what this is all about. Every child has unique outcomes and many factors that affect the way they respond to the cochlear implant experience. If you’re interested in more on this topic, you can go back to listen to the episode about sign language and the danger of language deprivation for children who do not have success accessing auditory information via the implant and yet do not receive any early language input. I’m so happy to have you as a listener and really appreciate that you took the time to leave this comment.

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