Summer H. is the proud mother to four beautiful children. Two of them were born with significant hearing loss; two have normal hearing. Because of cochlear implant technology, this mom could overcome her fears and the whole family can celebrate being a Cochlear Family:

A Cochlear Family“Our family is like most families. We participate in sports and after-school activities, take family vacations, celebrate holidays and enjoy time with friends and family. We are like most families, but we are also different. Two of our four children have bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and are Cochlear Implant recipients.

When our first child, Paisley, was diagnosed with hearing loss, my heart sank. I remember sitting in the waiting room as we awaited the results from her ABR (auditory brainstem response). I was fearful for my child to be deaf and the impact it would have on my child and me as a parent. As a certified Deaf Education teacher, I knew the impact and work involved. I wanted to enjoy my time with my baby without worrying about multiple appointments and therapy to be a successful listening and spoken language user.

When our son, Patton, was born and failed his newborn hearing screening in the hospital, I lost it. I thought it wasn’t fair. I just wanted to be a ‘normal mom,’ but onward we soldiered.

Both Paisley and Patton were fitted with hearing aids shortly after diagnosis and did very well. Paisley’s speech and language skyrocketed and her scores were above average in all areas. I was so proud of how hard she was working and all the progress she was making. Just before her third birthday, we began noticing changes in her behavior though.

Paisley had developed multiple sensory seeking behaviors, was having meltdowns and wasn’t able to follow conversations like she normally could. We immediately put her in the hearing testing booth and documented a drop in her hearing. This pattern continued for a few months, and I started asking her team of doctors and audiologists about a cochlear implant. Paisley received her first cochlear implant at 3 years and two months old and was activated at 3 years 3 months old. She received her second implant a few months later and was activated two days before Christmas.

Patton’s hearing loss mimicked his sister’s. His hearing remained stable until just after his 3rd birthday. We started noticing changes in his behavior and speech, and because of our history with Paisely, we followed the same process with him. We documented multiple drops over a 2-month period, and we knew without a doubt that we would choose a cochlear implant for him as well. Patton received his first implant in September at 3 years 2 months old and was activated at 3 years 3 months old, the exact same age as his older sister.

Why we chose Cochlear

A Cochlear Family - Aqua+As soon as Paisley became a candidate for a cochlear implant, we knew we wanted to go with Cochlear. At the time, Cochlear was promoting the Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor, and we’d learned about all the new features that would be available with the device. One of our favorite new features was the Aqua+*. My parents have a pool, and Paisley has always loved the water. We felt that with Cochlear Paisley would always have access to sound, even in the water.

What we didn’t know when we made that decision for Paisley is that she would choose to pursue competitive swimming. After four years of tap dancing, she made the choice to pursue competitive swimming. After a successful tryout, Paisley made the team and she practices three times a week with other swimmers. With the Aqua+, she is able to wear her Nucleus 6 Sound Processors while swimming and doesn’t miss out on any instructions or conversations with fellow teammates. Paisley’s swimming coach also wears the True WirelessTM Mini Microphone to help coach her, which she says helps lots because it’s harder for her to hear when she’s in the water and wearing her swim cap.

When Patton became a candidate, there was no doubt that we’d stay with Cochlear. We have received amazing customer service and benefit from Cochlear; we couldn’t imagine choosing anyone else.

Patton experiences the latest technology

Patton is now wearing the new Nucleus 7 Sound Processor, and I personally love all the new changes Cochlear has made since the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor, including the Made for iPhone capabilities.

I actually switched from an Android phone to an iPhone just one week before he was activated so that I could access all that was available to him through the new Nucleus® Smart app. I love that I can connect him to the Mini Microphone or to the True Wireless TV Streamer with just a push of the button on the app, and that I’m able to see which accessory he is connected to at any given time.

I especially like that Cochlear has made changing the microphone covers easier by making it all one piece. I love all the new options for charging the sound processors with the Nucleus 7 too. The new charging station is so much smaller and compact and the USB charger is genius!

How life is enhanced for my children

A Cochlear Family - Brother and sister with cochlear implantsLiving with hearing loss has required extra planning and some adjustments for our family. For example, we always make sure we carry extra batteries and a few spare parts when we are away from home. We have a special area set up in our house that houses all the extra parts for their sound processors, accessories and chargers so that there is a centralized place for all of their equipment.

Both children use the Mini Microphone 2+ now, and when we recently added the TV Streamer to our television and I first paired Paisley’s sound processors to it, she got the biggest grin on her face and said, ‘I can hear it in my implants! It sounds so much better!’

Paisley is mainstreamed, makes straight As and is reading above grade level. She loves her Cochlear Implants and does an amazing job advocating for herself and taking care of her equipment. Paisley is determined that she is going to be a doctor and give people implants just like her ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor. She is a bright girl and works hard at everything she does.

Patton attends a private preschool at our church with normal hearing peers. He uses the Mini Microphone 2+ in the classroom, and he never misses a beat. He was so excited to have a cochlear implant like his big sister and is constantly showing people his ‘new implant.’ He loves to sing and dance, and I am grateful that his cochlear implant has provided him with the ability to access music and every other sound around him.

Overcoming the challenges and celebrating their success together

A Cochlear Family - Patton's Hearing BirthdayHaving two children with hearing loss has been a challenge but also a blessing. Our audiologist and Listening and Spoken Language Specialist are 2.5 hours from our home, so traveling that far for weekly therapy has been challenging. It requires careful planning to make sure that the children at home have a place to go when appointments last longer than normal or when they span multiple days. I’ve been driving back and forth for six years now and while it is difficult and tiring, seeing them succeed and achieve every goal we set for them makes it all worth it.

I have learned to appreciate each milestone and celebrate each success because the technology that makes it possible is such a blessing to our family. I honestly believe that Paisley and Patton can do anything they want, and cochlear implants have contributed to their success. I want them to grow up to be happy and healthy adults who know that they can do anything they put their mind to, and to never let their hearing loss stop them from doing anything.

Our family is different. Our children know about hearing loss and cochlear implants but to them, it’s their normal. It is just a part of our life, and it doesn’t stop us from doing all the things that other families do every day.

Paisley has taught her twin sister, Presley, how to charge her batteries, assemble the Aqua+, and pair the Mini Microphone. The siblings celebrate Paisley and Patton’s milestones along with us. This year for Paisley’s hearing birthday, Presley made her a banner to surprise her, and on Patton’s activation day, Paisley and Presley both made presents and a sign for him.

In our house, hearing loss and cochlear implants are the norm and being able to hear is something to celebrate every day.”

IWantYouToHear.com has resources for a parent of a child with hearing loss who needs more information on hearing loss treatment options.

 * The Nucleus 6 Sound Processor with the Nucleus Aqua+ is water resistant to level IP68 of the International Standard IEC60529. This water protection only applies when you use the Nucleus Aqua+ and rechargeable batteries without the acoustic component.
The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor is compatible with iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone SE, iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPad Pro (12.9-inch), iPad Pro (9.7-inch), iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad mini 4, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2, iPad mini, iPad (4th generation) and iPod touch (6th generation) using iOS 10.0 or later.
Renee Oehlerking
Renee Oehlerking is the Public Relations Manager at Cochlear Americas where she is responsible for the region’s public relations and consumer marketing social media. Renee enjoys uncovering, telling and showcasing the inspiring stories of hearing implant recipients. As a recent transplant to Denver, Colorado, Renee enjoys exploring all that the state has to offer outdoors.