Today, cochlear implantation is considered one of the most effective methods of rehabilitation of deaf children. Cochlear implantation is a surgical operation, a type of hearing replacement. But, unlike a conventional hearing aid, which only amplifies sounds, a cochlear implant allows completely deaf people to hear and understand speech. It replaces damaged auditory receptors and transmits sounds converted into electrical impulses to the auditory nerve.
What does cochlear implantation do? When a hearing is reduced, the person ceases to perceive high frequencies, and then, as the hearing decreases further — medium and low. Deafness is rarely absolute: the perception of low frequencies is usually preserved. Therefore, a person reacts to loud low sounds and, unfortunately, does not perceive the range of high and medium frequencies in which, for example, human speech or music is located. The implant restores the perception of a low, medium, and high frequencies make the perception of all sounds of the surrounding world real.
The younger the child, the easier rehabilitation will be
Cochlear implants are most effective for people with relatively recent severe sensorineural hearing loss or recent progression of hearing loss if they previously had a normal hearing or successfully used a hearing aid. The implant is effective for children who are deaf from birth or deafened in early childhood. It is better to operate on hearing-deprived children at an early age: the younger the child, the shorter and more successful the rehabilitation period. Children with congenital deafness or hearing loss at the age of one to five years (during the period when children are just mastering speech) are considered by experts to be the most promising category in terms of auditory-speech rehabilitation after cochlear implantation.
Once the speech processor is connected, deaf children will not be able to distinguish between sound signals and use speech for communication purposes. But a teacher will help the child develop auditory perception and speech after the first processor setting. After cochlear implantation with the help of a specialist, auditory-speech perception develops quickly. Two years after the operation, the child develops coherent speech, which allows children to actively communicate, and in terms of speech formation, such children are ahead of hearing-impaired children without an implant. Children with cochlear implants quickly learn to imitate speech sounds, words, and even short phrases and, unlike deaf children with conventional hearing AIDS, can perceive the quietest parts of speech signals — word endings, prefixes, and prepositions.
Rehabilitation of young children with a cochlear implant lasts three to five years and after that most children can go to regular school. But experts do not advise a deaf child to have a cochlear implant after ten years of age: it is expected not only longer rehabilitation but also psychological difficulties. Before the operation, the child was in special society-among deaf children in specialized kindergarten or school. After cochlear implantation, the child begins to hear and moves away from the previous society. At the same time, he has not yet established himself in the hearing community. Adolescents transfer it’s very painful.
P.S. Also read Rachel Coleman’s article “My Two Cents: Cochlear Implants“