Armalyn O.’s world was turned upside down when her son was diagnosed with bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. Then around a year later, her daughter was given the exact same diagnosis. Juggling two children, speech therapy and a tough diagnosis, Armalyn strove to give her children all of the opportunities in the world; she started with cochlear implants:
“Our hearing loss journey began 10 years ago, on Jan.18, 2008. Our son, Memphis, at the age of 2 years and 11 months, was diagnosed with bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. He was the first, on both sides of the family, to have this diagnosis, so it was a big shock to all of us when we found out.
Before the hearing loss diagnosis, he was also diagnosed with severe speech and language delay, back in October 2007. After this diagnosis, intense speech therapy began with the use of bilateral hearing aids. Two weeks after doing speech therapy with hearing aids, Memphis was referred for possible cochlear implant surgery. We were presented with several cochlear implant (CI) options, but we immediately fell in love with the Cochlear™ Nucleus® Freedom Sound Processor and its accessories. He had his right CI surgery May 21, 2008, and then his left Nov. 3, 2008.
Slow but continued progress
After many hours of speech therapy in the hospital, at school and at home, day in and day out, week after week, and months and years, Memphis eventually learned how to speak. He still struggles at times with putting words together to tell a story, but looking back from when he first started, he has dramatically improved, thanks to this AMAZING technology and everybody that has been part of this journey with us.
It was a very slow progress for him as he had a late diagnosis (and on top of that, he has ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Trying to close the three-year gap of no hearing and speaking was a great challenge. It has been a roller-coaster ride since day one.
Trying to juggle numerous hospital appointments, family, work and school was unimaginable. It was also a big learning curve to everyone that was involved in our family. A lot of tears were cried both for happy and sad situations, frustrations and having that feeling that you are not doing enough as a parent to help your child meet this goal of ‘speaking at his age level.’ Mealtime, playtime, bedtime, even driving time all became hearing and speech therapy time. It was a lot of work, but through them all, I was glad we were taught to do all these things because all of our hard work paid off.
I can still remember vividly this one time, it was probably a few weeks after getting activated, we had just gotten out of the car, and Memphis stopped walking and suddenly looked shocked; his eyes were wide-open and he kept looking around. I thought he must have heard something, so I started listening myself but could not hear anything. Then he stopped looking around proceeded to walk, when all of a sudden he did it again. I stopped to listen, and I heard there were birds chirping up on the tree. I immediately began telling him they were birds. He gave me the biggest smile and pointed on his ear. It was such an amazing experience to witness my son hearing birds chirping for the first time in his life; it truly was so heartwarming.
Memphis’ upgrade success
Fast forward seven years later, Memphis upgraded from the Nucleus Freedom to the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor. He loved this new sound processor so much as he said it was smaller and the sounds sounded clearer.
That same year he became involved in the school band and played percussion. He also bravely sang in the choir and loved it. A year later, he joined the basketball team at school and played well with his sound processors on. Memphis also has enjoyed watching several movies and going to a few concerts all because of this great technology.
This year he started swimming lessons and thanks to the Aqua+* accessory for the Nucleus 6 Sound Processor, he can now hear people around him while swimming. Before the launch of the Aqua+ accessory, Memphis used to use lip reading techniques when he went swimming, as he could not use his device in the pool; now he can swim and hear!
A new arrival to our family
In 2009, we found out we were expecting our second child, and nine months later, Sophie was born. At 10 weeks of age, Sophie was tested and her results showed no brain response to sounds. That same day she was given the diagnosis of bilateral severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. I remember driving home, crying so hard, wondering what I had done wrong and asking the question why…why both our children. It was through prayer and a lot of family support that my husband and I got through this heartbreaking news.
Again, just like Memphis, immediately after her diagnosis, Sophie began speech therapy. Fast forward a few months later, she also was fitted for hearing aids. This was such a busy year for us, juggling bringing two children to the hospital at different times, school and family…it felt unimaginable to be going through so much at one time.
Sophie’s speech and language assessment eventually showed a moderate to severe range in language development. This did not come as a surprise, given the fact that she could barely hear anything, even with hearing aids. Later that year, she was referred for possible cochlear implant surgery. We also picked Cochlear’s Nucleus 6 for her, as we loved how it worked for Memphis.
We went forward with bilateral CI surgery for Sophie, and after her CIs were activated, we began many hours of speech therapy in the hospital, at home, day in and day out, week after week, to months and years.
Sophie’s progress started slowly, but then eventually picked up. To compare with Memphis, she only had to close a one-year gap of no hearing and speaking. Now Sophie talks amazingly well. She continues to have her struggles with hearing and speaking at times, but overall she is well improved.
Sophie’s joy of singing and swimming
At age 3, Sophie started singing songs, and just like her brother, she loved watching movies, online videos and concerts. Sophie spends hours reading and listening to a lot of music.
At age 6, she requested to do violin lessons and then piano; she eventually gave up violin, but she continues with her piano lessons. Now she plays piano and sings at the same time! She enjoys singing pop songs. Just last year, she started doing swimming lessons and has loved it ever since. She uses the Aqua+* accessory during her swim lessons too.
This year, Sophie upgraded to the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor. She said she loves it so much; it is smaller and sleeker. She loves the new look of the charger. Most of all, Sophie loves her new Aqua+* accessory, because she does not have to remove the clips every time she has to go swimming. In addition, she loves the fact that she can now use our iPhone®** to manage her device. Again, AMAZING, AMAZING technology. Thanks Cochlear for continuously finding ways to improve your device!”