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Deciding to have a cochlear implant

Photo: Balanced information and speaking to other families may help you make your decision

If your child has a severe to profound permanent deafness and gets limited or no benefit from hearing aids, you may be thinking about them having a cochlear implant.

Before deciding to go ahead with a cochlear implant for your child, you’ll need time to think about the long-term commitment you’re making.

Families will go through the assessment process and make the decision on whether a cochlear implant is the right option for their child in partnership with professionals from the cochlear implant team. For some families this can be a difficult decision as there are so many things to consider.

Having lots of balanced information and speaking to families with experience of the process may help you make your decision. It’s important that if your child is old enough, you and the professionals involved listen to their feelings about cochlear implants and involve them as much as possible in making the decision. Our comic for children aged eight and under, Chloe gets cochlear implants, can help with this.

If at any time, you or your child feel that having an implant isn’t the right choice, always feel free to say so. If you have any questions about the tests, the operation and what it’s like to live with an implant, talk to the professionals working with you and your child.

Getting balanced information

When you start thinking about cochlear implants and finding out more information about them you’ll come across different views regarding implanting children at a young age.

Some people in the Deaf community don’t feel that deafness needs to be cured and that a deaf child should be old enough to make their own decision before being implanted.

Others see deafness as a condition which can be helped by technological intervention and that a cochlear implant can give a profoundly deaf child their best and only chance of gaining access to spoken language.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this debate, it’s a good idea to talk to deaf people with and without cochlear implants and to families and deaf children themselves about their experiences and feelings.

Your local deaf children’s society is a good place to start as well as the Cochlear Implanted Children's Support Group, a voluntary group run by parents offering support to parents of deaf children with cochlear implants and those who are deciding if implantation is right for their child.

Involve your child

If your child is older when you’re first thinking about a cochlear implant it’s important that they’re fully involved in the assessment process, discussions and final decision. They may like to talk to a friend, family member or a trusted professional such as their Teacher of the Deaf or communication support worker.

While you’re going through this process, encourage your child to talk with other families about their experiences of what it’s like to have and also to live with an implant.