I am an active member of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle, however for those reading who are unfamiliar with our story, here is a brief background explanation: John was late diagnosed (no newborn screening then) and didn't receive his hearing aids until almost 3.5 years. He had the receptive and expressive language of a 12 month old at his 4th birthday. John received his first Cochlear Implant in 2000 at the age of 8 yrs, 8 months. That one failed and he received another one in 2004. That one also failed. We decided to switch manufacturers and he received his third one in 2007. So far, so good (fingers crossed).
John is now a senior in high school. I've been able to share a lot of his success with the CI Circle discussion group. This year's excitement was originally generated when we were informed that he was ranked 1st in his class, and that he had been selected as a National Merit Semifinalist. He began the college application process this fall. The most recent news is that he has been informed that he a) Has been accepted to the University of Pittsburgh; b) Has been accepted into Pitt's School of Engineering; c) Is eligible to participate in Pitt's University Honors College should he desire to; d) Received a letter from the School of Engineering awarding him a $4,000 per year scholarship in addition to other funds awarded from the university itself (You can imagine how that got our mind racing since we received that letter ahead of any other award letter!); e) Received a FULL OUT OF STATE TUITION SCHOLARSHIP worth over $100,000; finally, f) Has been invited to apply to become a Chancellor's Scholar, which offers the abovementioned full tuition AND room and board. John wants to study biomedical engineering so that he might have the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives in the way that the CI has made a difference in his. We have 4 other schools to hear from, and we are hoping that this is a sign of more good things to come.
This is all very exciting for John and our family. He has worked really, really hard over the years, and I'm so happy to see him receive recognition for that.
*But that's not why I'm sharing this news with all of you*
I want you all to know that John could NOT communicate at the age of 4 years. He didn't receive the CI and hear all sounds across all frequencies until almost the age of 9 years. He suffered two CI failures, and lost the time it took to determine that he needed to be explanted and reimplanted. At times I despaired that we had made the right choice when we decided not to use ASL. When he was between the ages of 3 and 4, the employees of the first school district we lived in told me that "He was mildly, mentally retarded", that "He will never learn to speak", that "He might even be autistic", and that "In my professional opinion, I have to tell you that I think you are committing child abuse for insisting that he become oral."
We refused to listen to them, we moved him to a school district that had a lot less money but a much better attitude, and we supplemented with all the private SLP and AVT that we could. My husband worked two jobs for several years to make it all possible, but it was worth everything when we see that John was allowed to reach his full potential. Which was all we wanted to begin with.
I hope that John's success inspires some of you who might be surrounded by naysayers. I hope that his story encourages those of you who are feeling doubtful because of setbacks. We have so been there, done that. We feel very blessed and grateful to have received the necessary support as we suffered our naysayers and setbacks. The CI Circle helped us to take a deep breath and move forward again.