I’m sure that most of you have seen you tube videos about 8 month of babies being able to hear for the first time using cochlear implants. And tons of comments about how brilliant it is, and how happy it makes people.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I really hate it when children have cochlear implants. But we’ll get to why in a bit. First I want to show you one of the comments I came across on tumblr:
I am crying ))) this is so important! I often sit and think what it is to have some serious diseases, like being deaf and have a little child. Or have a child like that, and that’s the answer! Every solved problem is just a huge victory for both of you, such a happiness!)
Can you spot the mistake? Let me help you: “what it is to have some serious diseases, like being deaf”
I just wanted to point out how incredibly fucked up this is.
I have quite a few contacts in the Deaf community who would find that ridiculously offensive. Being Deaf is by no definition of the term a “disease”, nor is it disability.
And in regards to cochlear implants, most hearing people aren’t very education on the matter, so let me explain why they suck:
That child could have lived a very happy life as a member of the Deaf community. But because his parents assumed he was disabled, he wont get the opportunity to learn sign language. Meaning he’ll grow up isolated from the Deaf community, and will instead have to struggle to learn orally.
Cochlear implants work better at a young age, because the brain is still learning to interpret sound, this means that children are implanted before they have a chance to decide for themselves.
People assume that cochlear implants are some magic cure that automatically restores hearing, but its not. The quality of sound if vastly different from natural hearing. This link gives an example of what sounds like through a cochlear implant, and you’ll be able to hear the difference.
There are also a ton of risks involved in the surgery, including:
- Shaving off the hair cells in the cochlear could damage residual hearing, making their hearing worse.
- There’s a chance that the surgery won’t work and won’t restore any hearing.
- There’s a high risk of meningitis for cochlear implant recipients
- There’s the risk of dying during the operations
And that’s not the end of the surgeries for this child. As he grows, the cochlear will have to be replaced to accommodate the changes in the size of his skull. As well as repairs, replacements, and having to adapt to newer technology. In some earlier cases, the holes in their skull are too big to accommodate for the newer, smaller implants.
Also, in case you’re wondering, in the US, this surgery will cost anywhere from $45,000 to $125,000. Which includes evaluation, surgery, hardware, hospitality and intense rehabilitation. (In the UK, all of these costs are covered by the NHS).
Basically, this is an incredibly expensive and painful process which is inflicted on young children simply because there parents can’t figure out how to adapt to a Deaf child.
Now I know this is a pretty controversial subject, so feel free to let me know what you think about cochlear implants in the comments.