Connect with Rosie
- Lives in: Scotland
- Deafness cause: Profound hearing loss at birth
- System used: Bilateral Nucleus 6
Duncan was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss when he was three. His hearing deteriorated over time, though we know neither the cause, nor if it dates from birth – he was certainly an unusually sound sleeper as a baby! Hearing aids made a big difference, and his language began to develop normally, but it was always a struggle. After learning about cochlear implants from Duncan’s specialist teacher, we asked for a referral.
When he was five, Duncan’s right ear was implanted. He continued to wear a hearing aid in the left, something which we encouraged, but which he also chose to do. Starting school six months after switch-on, Duncan made great strides and gained levels in core subjects ahead of national targets for hearing children. At the age of 8, having met several children with bilateral implants, Duncan said quite out of the blue, “My cochlear implant is miles better than my hearing aid and I want another implant.”
After much personal research, speaking to the implant team and parents of bilaterally implanted children (and after funding became widely available), Duncan received a sequential implant to his left ear, nearly five years after his right. A few months post switch-on, the audiogram from Duncan’s new implant almost matched that of his first, and within a year it was clearly as good, if not marginally better. He is delighted and finds it less tiring to listen at school – to the extent that he now rarely uses his radio aid. Larger social situations have also become easier, and he often asks to have several boys over to play, something he avoided in the past.
The journey from diagnosis has been a long and often daunting one for us all, including his older hearing sister, but we have come a long way as a family. Duncan’s progress has delighted us and will help us meet the challenges ahead. Given the level of his deafness, we feel that the cochlear implants will enable him to access more easily so much more of life than he would have been able to without them.
We tackled Duncan’s deafness, including the decision to go ahead with cochlear implantation, by making ourselves as informed as possible. Much of that information came from professionals and from the excellent material available from organisations such as the NDCS and DELTA. Perhaps most helpful of all, however, was speaking to those with first-hand experience of what we were going through – the parents of implanted children. In our case, these contacts were made through professionals and the Cochlear Implanted Children’s Support Group. Now the Cochlear Advocacy Programme provides a more structured way of accessing this very personal and important type of support. I became a Volunteer Advocate as I wanted to give other parents the benefit of sharing our experience to help them make good decisions for their children.