Foto: STEPHAN MEYER
’NDowe leerling aan die Hoër Meisieskool Bloemhof in Stellenbosch het pas teruggekeer van Amerika nadat sy die Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan, toegespreek het.
“Dit was ’n fantastiese ervaring en só lekker om my storie met ander te kan deel,” vertel Rentia-Marié Meyer (15).
Sy het mense by dié universiteit se departement oudiologie en spraakstudie toegespreek oor haar ervaring met bioniese ore.
“Ek wil vir die mense meer oor die dowewêreld en ons kultuur vertel, want ons almal is nie dieselfde nie. Ek kan byvoorbeeld hoor en glad nie ge- baretaal praat nie, terwyl daar weer ander is wat net deur middel van gebaretaal kan kommunikeer. Ons kulture verskil baie en nie almal verstaan dit nie.”
Dokters het op sewe maande besef Rentia is doof. Daarna het sy net voor haar tweede verjaardag haar eerste kogleêre inplanting gekry. Met dié inplanting word vibrasies omgeskakel in elektriese impulse wat na haar brein gestuur word en haar só in staat stel om te hoor.
“Dit was regtig nie maklik nie,” sê sy. “Ek moes baie hard werk, want ek kon aanvanklik glad nie praat nie. Terwyl die ander kinders in die park gespeel het, moes ek woorde en klanke leer.”
Haar brein moes ook leer hoe om die vibrasies in klanke oor te sit. Sy “hoor” immers met haar brein en nie met haar ore nie.
Danksy baie ondersteuning van haar familie en harde werk, kon sy egter sonder probleme skool toe gaan.
“Hoe ouer ek word, raak dit egter moeiliker. Mense dink ek het minder hulp en ondersteuning nodig omdat ek nou groot is,” sê Rentia.
“Maar ek weet ek is verskriklik bevoorreg.
“Ek droom daarvan o meendag’ n motiveringspreker te word om vir mense te leer dat niks, nie eens doofheid, jou kan onderkry nie.”
Ek w eet ek is verskriklik be voorreg.
We all realize how special our senses are and value how Hearing or the lack thereof influences our lives. 2 young children, both born with normal hearing lost their hearing though illness. Thankfully through the Tygerberg Hospital Stellenbosch Cochlear Implant Unit's hard work and dedication to their patients as well as the generous Bidvest Hear for Life Trust, these 2 special kids will soon hear again!
listen to these 2 clips on CapeTalk and KFM:
One of our Support group members, Aiden Whitehead, shares more of his experience of starting University. Click on the link below to read more of his amazing story.
Neave turned one a few weeks ago on 23 September - a significant milestone in our family - and it feels like a good time to send an update about her progress to mark this moment. Since I last wrote, she has had her second operation and 'switch on' for her left ear in June. So she's now wearing two sound processors, increasing her access to sound and language 'in stereo'. She's even wearing her waterproof ears in the bath now, so is enjoying hearing splashes and water filling the bath.
Neave is now one year old but her 'ears' are only 8 months old, about which I keep needing to remind myself. She is making good steady progress and Mark and I feel that, over the past few weeks, every few days Neave is showing us something new.
In early September, Neave started repeating sounds she was hearing. One of the first sounds she repeated was 'lala', and Lyra was delighted, because this is Neave's name for her. She also makes a sound for the microwave beeping. She's tuned in to both voices and environmental sounds now, which is great. Initially she was more tuned into voices, but now her sound bubble seems to have widened.
She's started waving goodbye and says 'dye dye' for 'bye bye', and she's clapping her hands in response to the verbal instruction 'clap hands'. This feels really significant, as she isn't following a visual cue, but rather understanding the words. You can see her clapping hands on this video: https://youtu.be/3vKtRBJyRaQ
. She also gives her toys a cuddle, when you say 'cuddle' and she repeats the pattern of my voice when I say it (see the cuteness here: https://youtu.be/5Fl3fuqabpA). And yesterday morning, for the first time, she started saying 'up up up' as she was crawling up the stairs. Very exciting! She's also starting to make some animal sounds, which is just wonderful to hear. Her first sound was a roar for lion (see video here: https://youtu.be/bmP76NWKufM), and as a result she had a lion birthday cake, which she appropriately roared to. She's also making pig grunts, 'ssss' for snake (watch here: https://youtu.be/GmTvc7UIeNE), 'mmmm' for cow, 'tee tee' for 'tweet tweet', and says 'du du' for duck.
Her babbling is also developing and I was over the moon on Sunday as she said a nice long 'mamamama' for the first time. And she's said it a few more times since! Her favourite babble is still 'dadadada' though! Her sounds are becoming more varied, which is lovely.
Our wonderful audiologist Surida recently did a 6 month hearing test on Neave's. right 'ear' and 3 month check on her left 'ear'. She's showing behavioural responses to sound and voices at 20 decibels, which Surida is happy with. My understanding is that for hearing people we would hear between 10-15 decibels, and for cochlear implant recipients 20 decibels is considered good. I just found an information sheet online from one of the cochlear implant companies that states, 'Persons with thresholds of 20 decibels or below are considered to have normal hearing'. So, we are pleased with the results. Barbara, our fabulous speech therapist, continues to provide weekly support and she even did a home visit a couple of weeks ago, which was great as Mark was able to participate in the session.
It is amazing to reflect on 'this time last year' and think about how we didn't even yet know the full extent of Neave's hearing loss. Those weeks following her birth were very difficult with so much uncertainty and anxiety about her future. Of course there is still uncertainty, but there is also so much progress to be seen and we are delighting in every single new sound and indication of her understanding. There is much to celebrate and be thankful for. We've seen so much rapid progress in the last 5 weeks, and we are so excited to see the results as Neave soaks up the sounds and communicates with us more and more.
Thanks for celebrating her progress with us!
It’s amazing how something we consider simple, such as hearing can change your life drastically and forever. Nobuhle is my niece and she lost her hearing due to meningitis. To say how tough it was for her and the family is putting it very mildly.
Nobuhle was a very soft spoken but very happy and an outgoing little girl. Suddenly meningitis changed her whole existence, from a happy little girl to a sullen, unhappy and sad child. I remember visiting her at Karl Bremer Hospital, it was the 13th June 2011, I had spent the whole day with her the day before and although she was in a lot of pain she was her usual self and very chatty. She had asked me the day before to bring her cell phone, so she could play music and radio as she put it, “It is very boring in this hospital room, I don’t even have a TV”. This day as I came in to the room, I was smiling and started speaking to her, she also started crying. I was very puzzled and I started asking what the problem was, my mom requested that we speak outside. She told me that Hlehle as we call her became deaf due to the strong antibiotics she was taking to kill off the meningitis. I was so shocked and I told my mama that, I just left late yesterday, how can any of this happened so fast.
My life changed from that moment on. I started thinking about what was I going to say to her. Are there any words that can make a difference to someone going through that? I started crying myself as memories of her love of music came rushing back to me. Hlehle was always listening to music and singing. I remember when she was 4 years old, she came running to me and said BON JOVI was on TV. I was so shocked and I thought how would she know that? Although, I always played music around her, I never realised that she has knowledge to such an extent to know the artists. That was the very first time I noticed her love of music. I went into the room and I cried with her and I told her that I was going to try everything to get her help. Hlehle grew up as a Christian and now she started questioning God’s existence and why would he do that with her. Now, it was not only her deafness we were dealing with but a lot of thing developed through that.
The whole family was very shattered and this brought all of us closer together. It was very difficult dealing with the situation, especially as everyone did not know how to communicate with Hlehle. It was worse when the family was together, laughing and joking, Hlehle would start crying as she felt left out. None of us knew anything about deafness before her and we never had contact with the deaf world before. I always thought deaf people were born like that and I never realised that anyone can lose their hearing due to various reasons.
My first contact with someone, I considered help, was Francis Slabber. If it was not for her, I don’t know where Nobuhle would be today. She is the one who started the ball rolling by contacting Jenny Perold at Tygerberg Hospital. Those ladies including Suryn Lombaard, Prof Loock and his team are the reason, Nobuhle can hear today.
On the 23rd January 2013 Nobuhle had a cochlear implant as of now she can listen to music and watch TV and sing. The first time that she could hear, she ran around the house and screamed that she could hear herself singing.
I don’t know how to describe the joy and elation that the family had, from seeing Hlehle happy. The sullen and sad little girl was transformed into a happy, outgoing, feisty young adult. These days, she is just a chatterbox, you are lucky to have a word in.
This is just not only a chance for her to hear, but this will open doors for her for a lifetime of opportunities. She got a second chance due donations by many people. I would be amiss if I did not that Mrs Gurland and her team for fundraising and a lot of many people who contributed to her hearing. Dominican School for the Deaf for taking a chance on her and showing us that deaf people can have fun and great opportunities given a chance. Mr Fanie du Toit, for giving me a better understanding of deafness.
All of you will, never know how much you changed her life and the opportunity you afforded her to be something more.
Never take life for granted, I never knew the real meaning of the saying until it happened to my family.
From the Allwood Family
""So, we are hugely relieved and overjoyed that Faye's switch on went off perfectly this afternoon. Our little poppet is definitely hearing now, and her tranquil world has exploded into sound with her raucous and excited siblings. Amazingly she is still smiling.
The moment when she heard for the first time was an intimate family moment. We were all gathered around her, and as Lida the audiologist gradually turned the volume up, Faye stopped playing and concentrated very hard and very motionless on her new sensation. She showed a brilliant "stilling" response, and seemed earnestly interested in our voices and attempts at getting her attention. We could not get enough of trying to get her reaction to sounds for the first time. Then we "introduced" ourselves, and told her how much we loved her, watching her stop and listen to what was going on around her.
It took bit of getting used to, and the processors were irritating her, but at the end she wore both ears on her head, and took to it like a duckling to water.
Although the volume is now set at very soft, so as not to distress her, even this afternoon we notice that she is much more vocal as she hears and responds to her own voice for the first time. Playtime and games now have another dimension.
She had gone silent over the last few weeks, as does happen in deaf kids of the same age, but the return of Faye making happy smiley noises to herself and trying to listen when she hears something, is totally wonderous for us.
We are so thankful to our Lord for the amazing privilege he has granted us to be able to talk to our child, and for her to hear us.
Over the next few weeks the volume will slowly be increased as she begins her journey into sound and hearing.
Thank you for all your messages, prayers, and love. We took pictures and video this afternoon, and will post them on Facebook, to you, and on YouTube.
It was an amazing and unique moment in our lives.""
The video of the switch on can be viewed at http://youtu.be/WgemzxY6CpQ
Little Faye Allwood, 8 months old, has just had placement of simultaneous bilateral implants in a 5 hour procedure at Vergelegen Mediclinic on the 14th of March 2016, Somerset West, South Africa. Faye was born with profound sensori-neural hearing loss, that was picked up at birth through routine screening. Her older sister, Kate, 7, also has bilateral cochlear implants done at 6 and 11 months of age. Kate's hearing problem was also picked up at birth through routine hearing screening. Both girls can count themselves as part of the lucky few getting early screening, early diagnosis and appropriate referral and early intervention. Kate has attended mainstream schools since the age of 2, and is really excited for the opportunity to help her sister learn to talk and aquire language.
Little Neave Barrett is the youngest baby in South Africa and one of the youngest in the world - at just three and a half months old - to get cochlear implants to give her the gift of hearing, reports Adiel Ismail in an exclusive interview for Health24.