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Josh Swiller and Cochlear Implants on New York!!!

Posted Aug 25 2008 6:48pm

My friend just sent me this link to the New York Times article Cochlear Implant Supports an Author's Active Life and the interview was conducted BY PHONE!! Everyone knows I LOVE Josh Swiller, he is a role model for the hearing mother of a deaf son with a cochlear implant. And his writing...AMAZING! There is nothing hotter than a man who knows how to use his pen!

I'm still in the middle of reading THE UNHEARD A Memoir of Deafness and Africa only because I've had other issues with what is going on here in Grosseto...but I can't wait to finish reading. I've been underlining important parts as I read, and basically I've underlined the entire first part of the book. I need to share some of his book and beg everyone to read it, you will find yourself if you've ever worn hearing aids. Reading his words is like re-living my son's life...

Swiller writes:

... I waited for his questions, mentally preparing the speech I had written for just such an occasion: These are hearing aids. They take all the sounds of the world and turn them up louder. I can't hear without them, not a thing. You will need to talk loudly and face me when you talk, and I'll still miss some things, but I'll make up for it. (pg.20)

How many times did I give this little speech to Jordan's friends or new kids who met him while playing on the playground? Until...the day that Jordan began to use his own words and voice to say the same thing.

He also describes the hearing aid experience very eloquently, at least what I saw Jordan living with his aids:

"All that noise is difficult to decipher, so hearing is not quite the right word for what hearing aids bring forth. Amplified 90 decibels, voices aren't saying words so much as the idea of words. With lipreading and guesswork, your brain has to turn the ideas into words - and while I did fine in quiet places, in noisy surroundings I was lucky to get a tenth of what was said." (pg.23)

What always amazed me about Jordan was that he was able to comprehend conversations based just on a few words, his intelligence compensated for his lack of hearing with the aids. The one major problem was that while he could understand the messages, he was unable to express his thoughts...leading to major frustration and temper tantrums. Maybe he would have arrived to the point Josh Swiller reached - "I learned to adjust, think on my feet, forget what I couldn't do, and focus on what I could." (pg.27)

However, my fear as a concerned mother observing her suffering child, was that he wouldn't and he would just close further and further into himself in anger and frustration.

And then there was the cochlear implant.

The NYT article states, "Some deaf people are opposed to cochlear implants, because they regard the world of the deaf as a community, which they believe that implants threaten." Hmmm. Can't argue 'bout that comment.

Swiller comments, “My hearing is so many light-years better than I ever could have imagined — it’s a miracle. Before the implant, I couldn’t talk on the phone, I couldn’t have a conversation. It was very frustrating to be in the world and not in the world, watching people talking and not being able to follow what they were saying.”

*The cochlear implant has radically changed this for Jordan, as well.*

Then, Swiller drops the bomb and says,

“A small child with severe hearing loss should be implanted as soon as possible. Sign language can be learned down the road, but not English. It’s a no-brainer to me if you want the child to succeed in a hearing world.”

That's what I'm sayin'!

BTW, I just picked up my very little purple if you feel the earth shake tonight...don't be alarmed *smile*
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