As a parent, I want to make sure that my kids learn the importance of independence and through shared experiences I want them to realize they may eventually take care of things on their own. This doesn’t mean that I expect them to learn to run the household, but as a task becomes developmentally appropriate, I want them to learn how to take on responsibility and contribute to their own self-care. I guess what I am referring to is the old adage “if you give a man a fish, he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” So how does this translate into the world of pediatric hearing loss? In its simplest form, we as parents want to help our children. We want it done right and we want it done quickly and we don’t want anything to break in the process. With that in mind, how many parents reading this are still reluctant to let their tech-savvy kid take responsibility for their cochlear implant equipment? Can they change or charge their processor batteries? If taken apart, could their child put their processor back together again? Can they explain how their CI works (in a simplified way)? For the teenage patient, if something breaks, who does the troubleshooting? Does the teen know what steps to take to figure out what’s wrong with their CI equipment if/when something goes wrong?
My interest in sharing these thoughts comes from a few recent experiences I had with some teenage CI recipients and their parents. I recognized that if only some communication about the shared responsibility for the cochlear implant equipment could take place, parents could yield some of their responsibilities over to their children, resulting in greater independence for all. We so badly want to raise our kids to be independent, contributing members of society. By parents taking on the task of maintaining all of their child’s cochlear implant, they can hear for a day, but by teaching them how to take care of their CI on their own, we help them hear for a lifetime. I hope this blog post might be an effective way to start the conversation among families.
A recent Google search, looking for guidelines on cochlear implant maintenance in children listed many links for choosing a CI, how to read to your child with a CI, tips and hints for the school professional, but nothing supporting a child’s knowledge of how their CI works, etc. I’d love hear what others’ experiences have been.
· At what age did you begin to allow your child to begin to change their CI batteries? Charge their CI batteries?
· How old were they when they learned how to troubleshoot the CI?
· When did they learn the names of each part? Be able to explain to someone (ie. a teacher or their class) how it works?
· For the older teenage recipient, when did they begin to request replacement parts or batteries? Did they learn to do this by phone, email or online portal?
· Does your 18-year old know how to contact their audiologist if/when a problem with their hearing occurs?
Please leave your comments below to share your experience.