BATOD
The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
Promoting Excellence in Deaf Education

After early diagnosis - early implantation?

Sue Archbold

Now that we have early diagnosis of hearing loss in the UK and we know that those children implanted early do better - so we can just get on and do it can't we???

Well perhaps we can't - to quote David Luterman, "when emotions are high, cognition is low" and when one is feeling vulnerable may not be the best time to make a major, irrevocable decision such as implanting your infant. On the other hand, you can't wait too long either, and parents clearly feel under pressure. One of the things we can do is to make sure that parents have up-to-date unbiased information as soon as possible.

As part of the Early Support Pilot Programme, The Ear Foundation developed an information video and DVD, signed, subtitled and translated into other languages, and Frequently Asked Questions section on their website to ensure that parents, in the early stages of thinking about implantation, had clear and objective information on the process to help them decide whether they wished to explore the option further. The video and DVD were sent out to all educational services and it is still available from The Ear Foundation.

The new technology can be quite daunting, following a major operation on your child:
"It was like having a new baby. At first I was terrified I would break something or do something wrong. After a little while I realised that the equipment was quite straightforward and strong. I relaxed a lot more once I realised that Robert had learnt enough to show me very quickly if something wasn't quite right."

A further book, Cochlear Implants for Deaf Babies and Young Children, Practical Issues, was also produced as part of ESPP and gives practical advice for those parents of deaf infants who have decided to proceed with implantation for their child. It's a thoroughly realistic book, written by parents for parents, addressing the issues that parents face in the early stages.

Practical Issues has now been reprinted and a DVD of the STEPS - from hearing to talking - is being made for families. Further details are available at www.earfoundation.org.uk