A Mother's Story
by Kelly Sherman
Harry Sherman is one of our youngest members. He was one of the first children identified by the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. He has since had dual cochlear implants. His Mum Kelly has kindly written an article about his diagnosis and his progress.
Harry was born in Jan 2008 and diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 3 ½ weeks through the newborn screening test. By 4 ½ weeks Harry was wearing hearing aids and was fitted with bilateral cochlea implants at 16 months. Since the initial diagnosis
nearly 2 years ago now, it has been a whirlwind,
emotional roller coaster but one that is now starting to slow down a bit. I can honestly say there are even times when I forget that Harry is profoundly deaf as he is doing so well, something which I never ever thought that I would say.
Harry is profoundly deaf in both ears but at the time of assessment NICE had not passed the recommendation that children requiring two cochlea implants should be given them. As far as we were concerned it was completely logical that Harry should be offered two implants but we were forewarned
that it was a postcode lottery as to whether the PCT would approve the funding. Luckily we were fortunate enough that when Harry was approved as an ideal candidate for cochlea implants the NICE guidelines had just been passed but the time in-between proved quite stressful due to the worry of potential financial pressure and also we didn’t want to have to put Harry through another operation at a later date.
Harry is profoundly deaf in both ears but at the time of assessment NICE had not passed the recommendation that children requiring two cochlea implants should be given them. As far as we were concerned it was completely logical that Harry should be offered two implants but we were forewarned that it was a postcode lottery as to whether the PCT would approve the funding. Luckily we were fortunate enough that when Harry was approved as an ideal candidate for cochlea implants the NICE guidelines had just been passed but the time in-between proved quite stressful due to the worry of potential financial pressure and also we didn’t want to have to put Harry through another operation at a later date.
When Harry’s implants were first switched on he looked a bit surprised but he seemed to take the session all in his stride. One of Harry’s favourite toys before the implants was a dog that sang ‘singing in the rain’ which we took with us and when we switched him on he started moving with the music, we were absolutely ecstatic! It took a little while for Harry to start making new sounds but he quickly began turning to his name every time we called him and when we took him for his three month post implant assessment we were informed that Harry was already well ahead of where they would have expected him to be.
Harry now has a couple of words. He can say ‘up’, ‘look’, ‘mmm’ which is turning into mummy and, quite fittingly as he is addicted to the things, ‘yoghurt’. Like most two year olds Harry wants to do everything himself and getting him to wear his processors can be a bit of a challenge some days, but the struggle is definitely worth it when he starts babbling away. The other day it brought tears to my eyes when he hugged our dog and tried to say ‘Chester’. Although Harry has only been fitted with his processors for 6 months now, everyday I am astounded at the increase in vocalisation and his ability to communicate new things.
Harry absolutely loves anything that plays music, in fact the louder the better, and will dance when he hears music on the telly or music on the radio which seems to have a strong beat to it. He even recognises certain theme tunes to programmes on telly like Waybuloo and the Night Garden and if he is in the kitchen will run into the lounge to dance to the music.
My husband and I have never once looked back or regretted him having the operation. We understand that for many parents it is a very tough decision to make whether to put your child though the operation, but we strongly feel that it was the best thing that we could have done for Harry and without his implants he would not be doing as well as he is now.
If parents are going through the assessment process for their child to be fitted with cochlea implants I would urge them to look at forums such as the NDCS as there are so many lovely success stories and it can make the situation a little less daunting to know that others are going through the same process.
Also talking to friends and family can help them try and understand what you are going through and lets them be as supportive as they can. We are very lucky to have such fantastic friends and family behind us and it is amazing how many people are so interested in and amazed at Harry’s progress. The world can be made better for all deaf children and young people by raising awareness of deafness and the issues affecting deaf children and already people who have met Harry have begun fundraising for local charities such as the Dorset Deaf Children Society and the Elisabeth Foundation in Portsmouth which we take Harry to once a week.
One thing that has certainly helped us in developing Harry’s speech and communication skills is making flash cards of the ling sounds, places we go often, family and friends and animals etc. He absolutely loves them and we take them everywhere with us. It would be wrong to say that Harry’s deafness doesn’t still upset me sometimes for after all, we are only human and at first I struggled at times to separate the deafness and my beautiful little boy. Now, however, every morning when I am greeted by his cheeky little smile and chuckle, I feel a glow inside and think to myself ‘I wonder what you are going to surprise me with today…’