Auditory Implant Service

“It is like watching a flower opening and blooming and she’s always coming out with different things each day”

Helen Long- A Parent’s Story

Helen Long’s daughter, Ella, was diagnosed deaf when she was born and fitted with hearing aids at 11 weeks old but she had no response to them. After nine months, the audiology department at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester referred Helen and Ella to the Cochlear Implant Centre at the University of Southampton.

Helen from Chandlers Ford says, “On the very first visit to the Centre, Ella responded to sound. They were playing a really loud low-frequency noise which Ella turned round to. It was so loud, and even though I was wearing ear defenders, I jumped out of my seat, which shows what little hearing Ella had.

Over the next four months the Centre assessed Ella for a cochlear implant. This involved head CT scans, seeing a speech therapist and a teacher of the deaf, having grommets put in her ears and auditory tests”.

Ella was 16 months old when she was eligible for the implant but because of ear infections she had to wait until she was 20 months old before the surgical implant could be carried out.

A month after the successful operation, Ella returned to the Centre for initial tuning as the signal received via the implant is not normal hearing and patients require time and training to become accustomed to it.

Ella has had sound now for 18 months. Helen says, “She’s doing fantastically and it has completely exceeded our expectations. Children’s responses to the operation can be varied but Ella is coming on in leaps and bounds.”

“It is like watching a flower opening and blooming and she’s always coming out with different things each day. She now says sentences with four or five words in such as “Daddy sit down play Ella”, or “Ella sit down watch TV”, or “Mummy hepple (help) dolly hair”. This is the equivalent of a two-year old’s speech development, which is appropriate language development for Ella, as she has only been hearing for 18 months.”

Helen continues, “I never thought I would hear her speak and say “Mummy”. She was such a quiet child before the implant, but it has made all the difference to our lives. To be able to sit with her and have a conversation is fantastic and she can also talk to her brother Joe.

“Ella does everything a three-year old does; she loves to play with her dolls and her friends, she loves pink sparkly things and is going to pre-school. She has an educational statement to give her extra support and she has lots of people looking after her so her educational development can continue. We do not want to feel her education will be compromised because she is deaf, we want her to meet her full potential.”

Helen is in no doubt what difference the Centre has made to all their lives. “They’ve been the difference, without them Ella wouldn’t have access to speech and hearing. They always have so much time for us each time we visit. They have had such a huge impact on the lives of other children and adults.”