This is Komal. She is a 9 year old who studies in a school in Bangalore. She is shy, and you can see a glint of mischief in her eyes. She can handle attention with such elan that I was impressed. What’s so special about her, you may wonder? She is just like any other girl her age. No, she’s not! She is hearing impaired. She has a cochlear implant in her ear that helps her lead a completely normal life. She speaks and hears as perfectly as my own children. Isn’t that heartening?
I met Komal recently at an event organised by Cochlear India on March 3rd, World Hearing Day in Bangalore. Accompanied by her mother, this little girl was the cynosure of attention as she answered the questions fielded to her with a smile and disarming candour. As a parent, nothing warms my heart than to see a smiling, thriving child. I cannot imagine how her mother’s world must have come crashing down when she must have discovered that her one-year-old precious baby was hearing impaired. Luckily, she ignored well-meaning relatives who said things will get better on their own and consulted a hearing specialist. With timely intervention, Komal can hear and speak perfectly. She can play, read, swim and pretty much do everything any other child her age does.
Are you aware that despite being mandatory around most countries in the world, hearing test is still not mandatory at birth in India? It is conducted in a few private hospitals but not in most government hospitals. As a matter of fact, I had never got my hearing tested till that day at Cochlear India meet. My children though get their hearing tested annually at their school, but I am certain that all schools do not offer this facility.
Here are some statistics for you (as per WHO)
32 million children live with disabling hearing loss
60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable
1.1 billion young people around the world are at a rish of hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices.
Shocking, aren’t they? And to think that hearing loss is preventable but is not prevented due to lack of awareness. Imagine the loss of a good quality of life for so many children!
We also met up with Global Brand Ambassador, Brett Lee, who is working passionately for the cause of spreading awareness about hearing impairment, through the #SoundsOfCricket campaign. Articulate and down to earth, he shared with us his experience with this campaign. You could see that he has genuine affection for kids. Being a father does that to you. Because only a parent smiles when they see another child engaging in mischievous play or giggling. That is always #HappiestSound, as he mentioned, except when it wakes you at 3 am. 😀
He also showed us Cochlear Kanso™, the smartest, most discreet innovation in the field of chochlear implants to date.
Here are some things you can do as a parent to prevent hearing loss:
- Get you child’s hearing tested regularly, either at school or reach out to your paediatrician.
- Hearing loss can be progressive and can strike you at any age. Do get yourself and the elders in your family checked regularly.
- Hearing implants like those from Cochlear are a worthy investment as they restore normal hearing even for those who have never heard before.
- You will need to get speech therapy done for your child to ensure that they speak and hear perfectly
- Do share with other parents about the importance of getting your child’s hearing tested.
My children got their hearing tested at the venue. The process is simple and painless and barely takes a few minutes. I would request you to get your children tested as well.
I am sure you get their vision tested every year. I do. But, due to lack of awareness we often react very late when it comes to hearing. Let us test their hearing every year so that any hearing loss or impairment can be caught in its early stage.
Do watch this interesting video to see how Cochlear Implant works:
Have you tested the hearing of your children? Please promise me that you will do now.