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Connor passed his newborn hearing test, but when his language wasn’t developing and he wasn’t responding to loud noises his mom, Hope S., knew something was wrong. Eventually diagnosed with profound hearing loss and auditory neuropathy, Connor’s best treatment option was cochlear implants, Hope learned. Not wanting him to feel left out, Hope and her husband eagerly got cochlear implant tattoos in support of their son: 

Parents with cochlear implant tattoos“We first found out Connor had profound hearing loss when he was 15 months old. Connor had passed his newborn hearing test that they do in the hospital when he was first born, so we didn’t think he had any hearing issues.

But little did we know, we were way wrong.

As time went on, we started noticing he wouldn’t look if we talked to him or called his name. If loud sounds were made, he wouldn’t jump or budge. He never did any of the normal baby sounds; it was all mostly grunts and laughing.

We had mentioned our concerns with his doctor, and we went ahead and set him up for another hearing test. Once Connor was in the hearing booth, they got all the way up to 100 decibels and Connor still did not react. We had him scheduled for a sedated ABR (auditory brainstem response).

In May 2016, Connor was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy. We had no idea what that was; the audiologist told us it is basically where his brain waves and sound waves don’t link up properly to transfer sound to his brain. That’s why Connor wasn’t hearing.

child with cochlear implants

This news was just devastating to us! Our son had been living in silence this whole time, and we had no idea. He hadn’t been able to hear us tell him how much we love him over a million times, and he didn’t even know his own name!

We wanted to know what we could do, and what we needed to do immediately. They wanted us to try hearing aids first. The audiologist knew that hearing aids were more than likely not work for what he was diagnosed with. But we wanted to try anyways before we went to plan B which was cochlear implants. We had never even heard of cochlear implants before. We needed to do a lot of research before we made any life changing decisions.

We tried hearing aids at 40 decibels then 60, 80, and finally at 100 decibels; we still didn’t see any progress, so we knew it was time for plan B.

We took several months to review Cochlear’s and Med-El’s cochlear implants. We watched numerous videos and read story after story of all the positive cochlear implant outcomes of just how successful they were.

Cochlear was our first choice because they have been around the longest. They also have such amazing features and the technology behind them is just truly amazing! That’s why we chose Cochlear.

Connor’s amazing audiologist in Louisville, Kentucky sent us to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit a surgeon at a local hospital there. We met with him to discuss what the future will look like for Connor. This surgeon has been doing cochlear implants for over 20 years and it’s a great hospital, so we couldn’t have been in any better hands! Our surgeon felt with Connor having auditory neuropathy that the cochlear implants would be the best choice for him because they would be able to bypass the part of his ear that does not work and send sound straight to his brain.

child with auditory neuropathyIn August 2017, Connor was set up for his bilateral cochlear implant surgery. The surgery went great. They were able to get all 22 electrodes in both of Connor’s ears. When they tested them, Connor had brain activity, which is a wonderful and very positive sign.

Finally, the big day had arrived. The activation of his implants! In September 2017, we got to see Connor’s first reaction to hearing sound for the first time. Our eyes just filled up with tears. We knew we had made the right decision for our son. We knew he was hearing sound! Low and slow was going to be the key for Connor. We started off very low at activation, so it didn’t scare him. And we knew it was going to take several appointments of getting them turned up before Connor would be able to really hear all the wonderful sounds around him.

Connor’s journey will be a long journey of speech therapy and many more appointments, but it’s one we look forward to. We are truly blessed and so lucky that our son was able to receive cochlear implants.

We didn’t want Connor to feel left out, so my husband and I shaved the sides of our heads and got identical cochlear implant sound processor tattoos on both sides of our heads. He’s our only son, and we would do anything for him. Now we are rocking cochlear implants as a family.

Connor has had his implants for a few months now, and we are about to have speech therapy four to five times a week. We are wanting Connor to be fluent in sign language too.

He is doing so well so far. He is nonstop babbling, which is new to us but we love every sound of it. He is saying ‘mama,’ and he is starting to copy mouth movements and imitating us. He is making O, B, P, M, and I sounds. Just in a few months of Connor having the cochlear implants, he is doing outstanding and making great progress.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Connor, and we know it will be wonderful all thanks to Cochlear! Thank you all so much for letting our son be able to hear all the love people have to say, and I know he will thank you the day he can use his own voice.”

If your child also has hearing loss and you’re looking for treatment options other than hearing aids, visit IWantYouToHear.com for more information on implantable hearing solutions.

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.