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Has my son’s cochlear implant helped him learn words faster than a hearing child?

cochlear implant

There has been some research lately that has revealed the possibility that children with cochlear implants are learning words faster than children with no hearing problems. 

It has got me thinking about my son Harry. Being profoundly deaf at birth, Harry was implanted at 14 months old with no previous experience of hearing the world around him. 

He has since quickly he picked up speech ever since his implant was activated. We encouraged him to use sign language as a method of communication but we always kept the spoken words there too. This was to help him distinguish the lip pattern when he eventually could hear those words.

Read more: How to Use ‘Total Communication’ When Educating Children with Hearing Loss

How quickly did he learn speech?

Within a matter of months, Harry was starting to mimic spoken words such as mama, dada and more. By one year of being implanted, he had a huge range of words he could use.  Now at four years old and three years of being activated Harry is speaking and responding just like other four-year-olds. 

When he was implanted we were told to expect his hearing level to be behind. Perhaps by a year or even longer, but for Harry this certainly has not been the case. He has surpassed every expectation we have had of him.

Read more: Watch: Chatting with my cochlear implant kid

As for knowing if his cochlear implant has helped him learn words faster, I am still unsure. I think that using an element of sign language or sign supported English has definitely helped him to learn and remember words. I wouldn’t say that this is different to any other child.

Different ways to teach your deaf child new words

Of course, encouraging your child to speak using fun games and just general day to day chit chat is going to help with the learning of spoken language. I think this research could put pressure on parents of children with cochlear implants and perhaps push them too far. It may also set their expectations too high especially as every single child is different whether hearing or not.

Here are a few options to help your child learn new words:

  • Play games with noises or phonics
  • Sing nursery rhymes with repetitive words
  • Read books with repetitive simple words or phrases
  • Use everyday activities to draw attention to certain words and sounds
  • Try to use proper words i.e. “Dog” instead of “doggy”
  • Use sign as well as the spoken word, children really respond well to visual aids

I would love to know your thoughts on this study, please leave us your feedback in the comments section!

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Lucie Herridge
Lucie is a lifestyle blogger and mother living in Hampshire, United Kingdom.

She is the mother of Harry, 4 years old, who is profoundly deaf and a bilateral user of cochlear implants from Advanced Bionics. She loves to drink tea, cozy nights with her family and go on Pinterest!

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