Education is an important part of any individual growth and development. It has been established in various literatures that it is best to engage as many senses as possible (e.g. vision, hearing, and even touch) in the process of learning for an individual to learn something faster. An educational program or teaching strategy that only uses one sense (i.e. vision as it is the one most commonly being used) is often perceived as a less effective way of learning compared to those that utilize all three senses that may practically be used for learning. Sensual impairments may well lead to poorer learning outcomes. An individual who has been diagnosed with a hearing impairment, for example, would not learn as fast and as easily as an individual who has no sensual impairments. The objective of this paper is to discuss the impact of hearing impairments on an individual’s education and ability to learn and whether the parents of such individual should start to make investments for the procurement of hearing aids (e.g. cochlear implants) to bridge the gap in these individuals’ learning efficiency.
Should Parents of Children with Hearing Impairment Provide Their Children with Cochlear Implants that Would Allow Them to Hear?
Cochlear implants are medically engineered devices that enable individuals, often those who have been diagnosed with hearing impairments, to be able to hear like a normal person. Hearing is one of the most important senses that an individual has to use in order to learn . In a traditional classroom setting wherein the teacher discusses to the class the topics outlined for the day, for example, the students use their sense of hearing to understand what the instructor says, and ultimately, to understand the subject and course matter. It only makes sense to think that an individual who has impaired hearing, either unilateral (on one ear) or bilateral (on both ears) may not be able to understand their lessons well or worse, may not be able to understand anything at all. This can present as a huge challenge for students especially during their early stages of development, often between ages two to six, when they are ripest to learn their first or in some extraordinary cases, even their second language, among other important things.
One of the most practical solutions to impaired sense of hearing that hinders children from attaining their desired level of educational outcome is to have the hearing impaired individual undergo a surgical operation in which the affected or congenitally abnormal auditory structures would be fixed so that they could function normally and allow the patient to use his auditory sense like a normal person. The problem with surgeries, however, is that they are not guaranteed to be a hundred percent successful: Plus in some cases, the patient undergoing the operation’s condition may even get worse. Also, there are cases of auditory sense impairment that cannot be fixed by surgery. In those cases, an alternative to surgery may be prescribed in the form of hearing aids or cochlear implants .
Cochlear implants are surgically implanted electronic devices that enable a profoundly deaf person or someone who experiences severe difficulty in hearing who has been ruled out for more invasive surgical operations the ability to hear. What is important to remember about cochlear implants, however, is that the quality of hearing obtained from the use of this surgically-implanted device is significantly lower than the one obtained from natural hearing.
In a study published on the Journal of Hearing Science in 2012, the authors investigated the long-term effects of cochlear implant use among children diagnosed with partial deafness in various educational settings. The length of the research was from five to seven years. In essence, this was a longitudinal research designed to describe whether cochlear implant use is recommended for children with partial hearing loss to be used in educational settings. Results of the study suggest that at least 89% of the 18 children they observed exhibited positive outcomes after 5 to 7 years of implant use as evidenced by their inclusion to mainstream and not special education schools. The authors concluded that successful inclusion of hearing impaired children into the mainstream education system is one of the major goals of cochlear implantation . In this study’s case, there were some 11% who still had to attend educational institutions for the deaf or for hard of hearing.
In another study published by the Journal of Otology and Neurotology in 2011, demographic factors influencing educational placement of hearing-impaired children with a cochlear implant were investigated. By the end of the study, the authors concluded that the best time for parents and guardians of children with hearing impairments should consider to opt for a cochlear implant for their child is during the pre-school ages, that is between ages two to seven because this is a crucial stage where a lot of things and skills could be learned through auditory stimulation .
In summary, it would be safe to say that parents and educators alike should push for the use of cochlear implants whenever advisable and necessary especially for children between ages two to seven stated in one of the journal articles we studied because it is a crucial stage where a lot of skills can be learned via auditory stimulation. Parents should also play an active role in assessing the needs of their child so that they can have the opportunity to learn just like a normal child.
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