A YOUNG CORK BOY who is just one of 145 children around the world to have had a ‘bionic ear’ implanted has just completed an educational course for children with hearing difficulties at a specialist US clinic.
Calum, who was born deaf, was fitted with a groundbreaking auditory brainstem implant device (ABI), or ‘bionic ear’, in February. When the device was switched on in May, the young boy was able to hear the voices of his parents and brothers for the first time.
The non-profit clinic specialises in providing educational and parent-centred services to children under five to help them overcome their hearing loss.
Calum attended classes with his peers and a Situational Language Teaching teacher who specialised in working with children with hearing difficulties, while his three brothers attended the sibling programme. His parents Andrew and Helen also attended sessions at the clinic.
“The course was exhilarating and exhausting, at times very technical, however at all times effective,” his father Andrew Geary said. “There were six hours of class each day, there were also activities organised at the weekend to meet with members of the local deaf community at a picnic.”
Geary says that the family had sought to attend the course since hearing about it in October 2011, but that it “went beyond all expectations” and the whole family feels “empowered” by the experience:
We have come as a whole family, from a status of a pre-lingual child with no definite signs of hearing to a much more confident child with the very first signs of hearing. Our whole family now have the tools to continue his development. The information will also greatly aid the family in dealing with all the experts we encounter.
He said that the clinic featured a number of guest speakers including college graduates who had attended the clinic as small children.
The Geary family is thanking all of the people who have supported Calum and who provided the donations which made it possible for him to attend the clinic.
“We feel the greatest message that came from the John Tracy Clinic was the power of the child’s family to influence the success of their child. We feel empowered by the whole experience,” Andrew Geary said.
The Gearys say they “strongly urge” any parent with a severely or profoundly deaf pre-school child to consider the clinic’s long-distance courses or to avail of the summer sessions they attended in July.
The family is also urging Irish universities and speech and language graduates to consider the student programmes being offered at the John Tracy Clinic.
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