In a study conducted by Merv Hyde, Renee Punch and Linda Komesaroff, parents of Deaf children completed a questionnaire concerning their expectations before the cochlear implant, and then a follow-up questionnaire after the cochlear implant, in order to determine whether their expectations were met.
The study took place in Australia and included 247 parents from a variety of income levels, locations and ages of the children at the time of implant. The study revealed that parents generally have rather high expectations of what the cochlear implant will do for their child. Parents who were warned that the device may have varying outcomes on a variety of factors, still tended to believe that the device would “Fix” their child’s problem, and that their child would be the “Exception” to the rule.
After the cochlear implant, 97.9 percent of the parents reported that their children used the cochlear implant most of the time; five parents reported that their children had stopped using the device, and 65 of the children were reported to have had sub-sequential bilateral implants. Twenty five percent of the parents reported that their children had disabilities in addition to Deafness, including cerebral palsy, autism and intellectual disabilities.
Of the parents interviewed, one was quoted as having reported:
“I had low expectations. And also by that time, I made sure I went to [early intervention centers and deaf organizations], I really started to speak to mothers, observe children who had cochlear implants and realized that, despite what some organizations lead you to believe, it’s actually not a miracle cure, it’s a lot of hard work, years of hard work often, years of speech therapy, with mixed outcomes. So I was quite realistic,” [sic] (Hyde, Punch and Komersaroff-p.333).
Another parent is quoted as having said:
“The hearing with a cochlear implant will never be normal, it’s not a magic fix-it straightaway but it takes years of hard work, commitment, etc. It has paid off as he is finally doing well 10 years down the track,” [sic] (Hyde, Punch and Komersaroff-p. 333).
Of the parents whose expectations were not met, one is quoted as having said:
“Before the cochlear implant I wanted our son to be like a ‘Hearing person’ and not have to sign because it was scary and in a totally unknown territory (deafness) to us. With our experiences seven years since implantation our expectations have come down dramatically and really set in.” [sic] (Hyde, Punch and Komersaroff-p. 333)
Another parent reported:
“We were told that to be implanted as young as she was, we were told that our daughter would be caught up to her hearing peers and be on par with them academically and socially, this has not been the case.” [sic] (Hyde, Punch and komersaroff-p. 333)
The parent of a 7 year old at the time of the follow-up reported:
“I was expecting the implant to “fix” his hearing as I had seen children with implants talking and hearing beautifully. As [our child] has Auditory Neuropathy he has scrambled hearing and only a vocab of about 6 words.” [sic] (Hyde, Punch and Komersaroff-p. 333).
In one case the parents disagreed about the treatment strategy and reported:
“With the implant my husband thought he would be like any other hearing child….I wasn’t sure what to expect….I expected something good out of it but I always knew that [our child] was deaf and he’ll always be deaf and he’s got a device that can help him to hear sometimes….So I wanted to do both signing and get the implant and my husband said no, he should have one or the other….he wanted to go through [the early intervention center] where they definitely didn’t do signing, and he was thinking that if [our child] got the implant then he’s be just like this normal everyday child,” [sic] (Hyde, Punch and Komersaroff-p. 333).
The above child was implanted at 18 months old, but was unable to adapt to oral communication and eventually needed to use sign even with the implant.
Some parents expected immediate miracles that the implant did not produce:
“I was extremely surprised to realize that once we “switched on” the implant my son absolutely hated it and it took a good 12 months to get him to wear it. That was extremely stressful. He also developed an infection in his implant site 2 weeks after the operation which delayed switch-on for about a month, and then nearly a year to the day developed a second infection which required three months of antibiotics, 2 weeks of hospitalization, and no use of the implant for 1 month, until the swelling settled. It is not all that you expect but 6 years down the track it has definitely been worth it. It has helped his progress immensely, eventually,” [sic] (Hyde, Punch and Komersaroff-p. 334).
196 parents were satisfied with the results; 26 parents were dissatisfied with the results; 25 parents were unsure. Breaking these figures down to either satisfied or not satisfied, counting the unsure as not being satisfied, 196 were satisfied, and 51 people out of 247 were not satisfied. 51 out of 247 were not satisfied: showing those odds for any other product in the world, would a consumer risk it?