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Do we need support?
When a child is born hearing he usually doesnít need any support or extra help to learn how to talk. His parents, grandparents, siblings and people around him talk and encourage him to make sounds (and as a first time grandmother, those sounds are gorgeous). So by repetition and copying he learns to listen, speak and communicate.
However, when a child is born deaf he needs intensive support usually for speech and language therapy. Learning language is difficult and this will probably present obstacles throughout his life. The support he will need is ongoing Ė through school, university and often into the workplace.
The argument the Deaf Community has espoused against the cochlear implant, is because this gives children near normal hearing, their clinics and communities need to provide less support because fewer new Deaf children are entering their community. With fewer people enjoying their culture there is of course fewer people to keep their communities going. The cycle continues and since governments are generally responsible for covering the cost of support with grants based on need/numbers, when the clinic has fewer deaf children, then they lose their government support and the whole Deaf Community suffers.
This raises a good point. Do children who have Cochlear implants need the support and if so for how long?
According to a report a report in the Nottingham Post http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Deaf-children-set-lose-vital-support-claims/story-16162100-detail/story.html Jo Campion, of National Deaf Children's Society, said: "Deaf children and their families need more support, not less, and these cuts threaten to push already stretched families to crisis point."
Campionís comment was in response to cuts in staff and appointments at the Cochlear Implant Center in Nottingham.
As an adult implantee, do I need support? One of the things I didnít realise when I had my first implant is that the audiologists and surgeons would become friends for life. Where once I went to a hearing aid dispenser once every couple of years now I go to my clinic at least twice a year. In addition, I support other people going through the process and attend functions the centre has. So even though itís been 10 years since my first implant, with regular visits for re-mapping, troubleshooting or upgrades as well as social occasions I have come to know these people on a first name basis and call many of them friends.
Our clinic in South Australia is overworked because of the new cochlear implantees entering their care all of the time. While I donít need constant help and support I certainly do need some and I would hate to think our public cochlear clinics would ever have to reduce staff because government funding is cut. Children with cochlear implants may not need the constant support that a Deaf child needs but they still need on-going support throughout their life. Hearing health is just as important as general health and should be supported by our governments.
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