Monday, September 7, 2009

The Controversial Cochlear Implant

I'm not here to debate right and wrong. I just go finished watching an old (2008) copy of "Sweet Nothings In My Ear." If you've seen it, you'll recall it's about a family with a deaf son. The father (hearing) finds out about the CI and brings it up to his month (deaf). Not surprisingly, they have differing views on the matter.

This movie is an excellent one and must-see for anyone interested in or working with the deaf and hard of hearing. Marlee Matlin is awesome, as usual, and Jeff Daniels (in my opinion) does a really good job at signing for someone who learned as an adult. 

What do I think about cochlear implants. Well, let me tell you....

I was born with only one ear. I grew up being able to hear fairly well out of the other ear until I lost all hearing whatsoever. The doctors tried to force a CI on me. Not knowing better and not being educated, I went with the flow. I got my CI in April of 2000 and it was a complete failure. I couldn't hear a thing. They had failed to test my auditory nerves. So now I'm stone deaf and I've had my CI removed (happily).

I am not one to criticize adults who want to get an implant and see what happens. I do, however, have a slight problem with adults who force small children (even babies) to have the procedure done. I think that each person should be able to decide for themselves...including kids. Which means they should be old enough to know what they're getting themselves into.

Cochlear implants are not some miracle cure. You'll always be deaf. But if you're hearing loss is substantial and you can't seem to fit in in other ways (seriously studying sign language or lipreading), then it's up to you. Just don't drag kids into it. Let them decide and make sure it's THEM deciding and not coaching from you. That's just this deafie's opinion.


  1. "I'm not here to debate right and wrong."

    "it's up to you. Just don't drag kids into it."

    Succinctly stated, and completely unbiased of course :)

  2. I agree careful is very important, in the health care system you MUST be your own, or your child's best advocate. But what if there are multiple challenges for the child? A parent who has chosen a CI for their child may agree with your standpoint but confronted with other barriers their decision should not be judged by others. Each family unit must deal with their disability the best way for them.

  3. Hello! I love your blog, i've been reading your blog for some time now and i don't know why i didn't come across to this before. Well i just wanted to say that I'm a 21 year old deaf girl and i got my implant cochlear on July 2002. I was ten at the time. I remember my parents talking to me about the implant cochlear and at first i said no, i got mad. Because i felt that i could die during surgery if something just went wrong. My parents were like: okay, we respect you and we would like you to give some time to think about it. This is biggest decision you're gonna ever make. Nine months later, i said: Okay, I want to get an IC. Let's see if it works for me. So we starting working, i went under surgery and two months later i went to see my audiologist to get the external device. I took intense therapies and i gave my best. I can assure now that the implant cochlear is a technologic miracle and I'm grateful with my parents for letting me to make my own decision. I have no regrets. And Michele, you have a point: "You'll always be deaf." It's completely true because at the end of the day, i take my external device off and i don't hear a thing but i don't get sad. I'm proud of being deaf. Getting an IC haven't changed my life, it just improved my life for better.

    Anyway, i just wanted to say that i love this blog. Congratulations michele!

    Greetings from Mexico.
    -Cessna Elo.

    1. Cessna,

      Thank you so much for contributing your experience. I'm so happy for your success and glad that it was something that added to your life. Thanks, also, for the compliment about my blog. It always helps to know that there are people out there who are, indeed, interested in what I have to say. :v)

  4. I'm on the fence about kids getting CI.. one one hand, yeah, unless they're older children who can voice opinions, they can't voice their opinion about it.. but then for the wee ones, it's a matter of the language window... if it gets done when they're that young, they do better with it.. but I've heard that sometimes it's hard to get them to leave them on.. later on, those kids can decide they don't want to be hearing...

    Then there are the 9 or 10 year olds (give or take a few years) who can help with the decision process... Michele above is one... and Heather Artinian of Sound & Fury fame... her parents were resistant to the idea and finally she got her CI when she was 9 and later had a second one put in... she seems to have done very well.

    I wonder... if CI had been available back in the 60s or 70s, would I have wanted to get it then? I don't know... it would depend on how my parents presented it... I'm 57 and got one this summer and am very happy with it. It's not perfect, but I'm learning a lot and recently started working with a speech therapist at a university and hopefully that will help me progress better than seeing my clinic's AV therapist every month or so... the university is closer...

    Why didn't the doctors test your auditory nerves before doing the surgery? That doesn't sound right...