The mother, a 22-year-old woman, thought her daughter would immediately start speaking but soon realised that was not how it worked.
Her daughter would need speech and language stimulation.
Despite the lockdown, the mother would travel to the hospital with her daughter once a month from a village in Nadia, about 140km from the city.
“I had thought that after the implant my daughter would start speaking. This is a mistake that most parents make. She needed therapy and after a year of that she now can respond if I call her, calls out family members by their name,” said the mother.
She was sharing her experience at the Institute of Otorhinolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery-Centre Of Excellence, IPGMERSSKM Hospital on Wednesday morning at a programme organised by the institute on World Hearing Day.
The institute has conducted cochlear implants on 67 children free of cost since 2016. Usually, each implant costs around Rs 14.5 to 15 lakh. Of the 67 children, 40 attended the programme.
In a cochlear implant, the sound is converted into electrical energy and is transmitted to the brain, explained Arunabha Sengupta, the professor of ENT at SSKM’s Institute of Otorhinolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery.
“Early detection is very important. We are happy for these children and their families. There are 50 more for whom it will be done,” Children and their parents at the programme on Wednesday. Picture by Gautam Bose said Sengupta. According to the World Health Organisation, four out of 1,000 children globally are born with complete hearing loss, said Sengupta.
Often families overlook the signs as it happened with the two-and-half year old girl.
“I realised it when she was only 22 days old. She did not wake up when there was a loud noise outside our house. I told my mother and subsequently, others but nobody paid any heed. But by the time she was one I realised that we needed to consult a doctor who told us to get screenings done. After two screenings, we found that she had profound hearing loss. The family was not ready for a cochlear implant but I was determined to get it done,” said her mother.
She gets her daughter for therapy to the hospital once a week even now.
“After the implant the child hears sounds and with- out speech and language stimulation the child wont be able to discriminate between words. Children need to have Auditory Verbal Therapy,” said Md Sahidul Arefin, audiologist and speech language pathologist.
Arefin said the auditory training includes listening to words from behind or by covering one’s mouth so that the child cannot lip read.
The 40 children came on Wednesday morning, some of them recited poems to a full house.
But while they can now speak, the road is not easy for most who have to fight families and circumstances to identify and acknowledge the issue.
“It took us almost six months to decide whether we could get the implant done but we are happy that we did it,” said a mother, whose daughter got operated when she was two..