Thank you for your insightful experience
by Paula Rosenthal
I'm an admirer of Jodi's "An American Mom in Tuscany" blog as well and came across her post mentioning yours here tonight. As a bilateral cochlear implant user and a mother of a bilaterally implanted daughter, it would seem that I am an audist at first glance, but I truly believe that I am not.
I wrote a message on AllDeaf.com this morning offering resources/ideas for ways to help a parent decide whether to have cochlear implant surgery for their child. It is posted on my blog here: http://www.hearingexchange.com/blogs/?p=170 Although it was the right choice for me and my daughter, I made sure that my article was unbiased and purely an informational piece for parents who may be thinking about it.
As your story clearly illustrates, cochlear implants are not the answer for every child and family regardless of the child's eligibility. School staff, medical professionals and others can certainly suggest the idea to parents, but they should not be involved in the decision-making unless they've been solicited to do so by the parents.
I am really impressed with what you have written here about how deeply rooted you are in Deaf Culture and yet how open-minded you have been about allowing your son to be part of the decision. My daughter's first implant surgery was when she was 6 years old and we made the decision for her. Soon after, bilateral studies in adults came out and doctors encouraged having the second ear done. She was about 9 when we brought it up with her and she flat out refused because she remembered being nauseous and sick after the first surgery. We did not push her, but at one point she took it upon herself to start asking questions of several professionals and began to mull it over on her own. She came to us just before she turned 11 and said she wanted to do the other ear. I am in agreement with you that when a child is able to understand the implications of surgery and is well informed, then they should be part of the decision-making process.