Natalie's story

Natalie was profoundly deaf, but her parents say early intervention has helped her excel.

Cochlear Nucleus 5 recipient Natalie Dong

Natalie’s inspiring story proves that with early treatment, even children who are born profoundly deaf will be able to hear. 

Natalie’s Dad said he and Natalie’s mother were initially devastated to learn their otherwise healthy baby girl was deaf. He said they grieved for her lost opportunities and thought they’d probably never hear her say “mummy” or “daddy”.  Then Natalie’s audiologist explained how cochlear implants would give Natalie hearing, allowing her to develop her vital language skills.  Natalie’s Dad said they did their research and knew they couldn’t delay her treatment.

Natalie received bilateral implants at just one year old and said “mamma” three months later. Today her father said she is thriving both academically and socially. Her Dad said she tops her class in a mainstream school, speaks three languages, plays piano and is active in a range of after-school activities. Natalie shows that early intervention gives children who are born deaf the chance to develop on a par – and even surpass – their peers with normal hearing.

For more information on cochlear implants, speak to your child’s audiologist or health professional or contact us to find a clinic. Just like Natalie, your child can grow up happy, confident and successful in the hearing world.


Natalie’s story (as told by Natalie's Dad)

Newborn hearing screening showed a potential problem with Natalie’s hearing and further tests confirmed she was profoundly deaf. I kept thinking “this is not possible, this shouldn’t be happening to my girl!”.

When Natalie failed her newborn hearing screening test, I kept thinking there must be a mistake with the test. Natalie was a full term baby with a normal birth and we have no history of hearing loss in our family. I didn’t want to believe it and was so worried about what her life would be like.

I worried about what her life would be like – I thought she would be resolved to signing and would not be able to call us “Mummy” or “Daddy”

Our audiologist told us about cochlear implants. We did a lot of research including meeting with the families of other recipients and this helped us make the decision to proceed.

Natalie was only one year old when she received her implants but we never considered delaying the surgery. I believe that if you can’t hear, you can’t talk so we went ahead as soon as possible.

I knew six years ago that I had made the right decision for my daughter, but it was very hard to turn off my emotions at the time, especially because she was so little. I just kept thinking positive and telling myself “she’ll be able to call me “daddy".

Now I know cochlear implants can be life-changing, I encourage other parents to go for it while their child is young.

At the switch on, Natalie didn’t really give any great reaction. I felt very emotional at that time. My wish was “so long as she can call me “Daddy” I’ll be the most happy and proud Dad in the world”.

As a parent of a cochlear implant recipient, you wait so long to be called “Mum” or “Dad’ and when they call you that for the first time, it’s just wonderful!

Our main reason for choosing Cochlear is it is a well known brand with continuous research. We felt that Natalie would receive long term support from Cochlear’s new technology and device well after her initial surgery.

With bilateral implants, Natalie can pick up more accurate sounds from different directions.

After getting bilateral implants, we’ve noticed that Natalie’s pronunciation is very clear. She can locate the direction of sound better, it’s easier for her to communicate with the family, and she looks to be more confident which has improved her social skills a lot. She’s talking just like a normal child.

Natalie’s first word was “mama” which she said 3 months after switch on. 

After receiving her cochlear implant at 12 months old, Natalie picked up words very quickly. By the time she was two, she was on par with normal hearing children the same age.

By the age of two, she could recognise and read the alphabet.

By the age of three years she was learning three languages: Mandarin, English and Bahasa Malay.

Natalie can read well in English, Mandarin and Bahasa.

I think at times, Natalie’s speech and language ability is better than normal hearing children her age. If you didn’t notice she was wearing sound processors, you wouldn’t know she was any different.

Natalie attends a mainstream school and is the overall top student in her year (Year 1) in Year 2011. She is a class monitor and very active and involved in other school activities.  She also participates in gymnastics, taekwondo, piano lessons and Sunday school.


Please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.