Canton, OH 44708
was diagnosed with a severe to profound hearing loss at the age of 14
months. We met a woman who brought her nine year old hearing impaired son
over to our house one afternoon. We were amazed at his ability to
communicate. His speech was very clear and we immediately became excited
about the prospects for our daughter's future in the hearing world.
As fate would have it, there was an Auditory-Verbal International
conference a mere ten miles from our house only six weeks after Kristina's
initial diagnosis. As we attended this event, we became quite overwhelmed,
but at the same time, we knew that this was the answer for our little girl.
At the beginning, Kristina pulled out her hearing aids countless times
every day. We were told that if she pulls them out of her ears, we should
immediately put them back in. Patience finally won out and after three
months, she began her true hearing life.
Her verbal sounds came slowly at first, but her receptive language grew
by leaps and bounds. At eight months hearing age (two years old), Kristina
knew twenty-one body parts, eight colors, and she was beginning to follow
directions. We saw her as a "language sponge" since she would soak up
anything and everything. Spending nearly one hour a day reading to Kristina,
it is not surprising that her language began to grow from her love of books.
Being an only child, trips in the car always had one parent in the back seat
with Kristina to read to her or explain the world around us.
By the time Kristina turned three years old, her therapists and
audiologists noticed a large gap between her receptive and expressive
language. They suggested that a cochlear implant might help her fill in the
missing linkages with her speech. We took this decision very seriously and
spent a lot of time and energy researching this issue. Also, Kristina was
considered a "borderline" case since she was receiving some benefit from her
hearing aids. Up to this point, cochlear implants were reserved only for
people who were getting little from hearing aids. We decided that this was
the right decision for Kristina and she was implanted with a Clarion
S-Series cochlear implant on July 25, 1997.
Kristina was "turned on" August 15th. At first, she did not react very
strongly to the cochlear implant. Our mistaken expectations were that she
would immediately begin recogizing sound more readily with her new implant.
She wore both the hearing aids and the implant. After five days, Kristina
took out the hearing aids and said, "I don't need these anymore, Mommy." Her
work as a true hearing child with hearing aids was of great benefit and was
immediately transferrable to her new ability to hear. Because of the
Auditory-Verbal training, her brain had been stimulated to listen and hear.
We did not experience any regression because of Kristina's strong listening
skills and proper tuning (i.e. mapping) of her cochlear implant.
Two weeks later, Kristina began Montessori school at the age of three and
one half years old. She is the only hearing impaired child in this
mainstream school. Today, Kristina is six and one half years old and is
doing great! She has just begun first grade and is more than keeping pace
with her hearing peers. Kristina enjoys reading and math and especially
conducting little science experiments. She has also expressed a strong
interest in learning the Spanish language at school. Over the past year,
Kristina's social skills have dramatically improved and she has several
close friends, all of whom are not hearing impaired. They are able to play
for hours at a time without any difficulty communicating. After school,
Kristina enjoys Girl Scouts, music class, tennis lessons and swimming. Our
family and our lives are not much different than others in our community -
in fact, our lives are quite "normal". We strongly believe that Kristina's
hearing impairment will be nothing more than a small inconvenience in her
Kristina is truly a spirited and enthusiastic little girl who knows there
is nothing that she cannot do!