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Cochlear Implants in Children

Ethics and Choices

John B. Christiansen and Irene W. Leigh, Editors

Publication Year: 2002

Cochlear Implants in Children: Ethics and Choices addresses every facet of the ongoing controversy about implanting cochlear hearing devices in children as young as 12 months old and in some cases, younger. Authors John B. Christiansen and Irene W. Leigh and contributors Jay Lucker and Patricia Elizabeth Spencer analyzed the sensitive issues connected with the procedure by reviewing 439 responses to a survey of parents with children who have cochlear implants. They followed up with interviews of the parents of children who have had a year's experience using their implants, and also the children themselves. Their findings shape the core of this useful and telling study. Cochlear Implants begins with a history of their development and an explanation of how implants convert sound into electric impulses that stimulate the brain. The second section focuses on pediatric implants, starting with the ways parents coped with the discovery that their child was deaf. Parents share how they learned about cochlear implants and how they chose an implant center. They also detail their children's experiences with the implants after surgery, and their progress with language acquisition and in school. The final part treats the controversy associated with cochlear implants, particularly the reaction of the Deaf community and the ethics of implanting young children without their consent. Cochlear Implants concludes with sage observations and recommendations for parents and professionals that complete it as the essential book on the pros and cons of this burgeoning technology.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 4-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. 8-13

During the last few decades of the 20th century, the topic of cochlear implants emerged as perhaps the single most divisive issue among deaf and hard-of-hearing people, educators, parents of deaf children, audiologists, otologists, and others concerned about the welfare and future of deaf people and the deaf community. This topic has become as heated...

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pp. 14-25

The vast majority of parents of deaf children are hearing people who generally have little, if any, contact with deaf people and know next to nothing about deafness before discovering that their child is deaf.Whether they learn of their child’s deafness on their own, or whether their child’s deafness is diagnosed by an audiologist or pediatrician,...


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CHAPTER 1. History of Cochlear Implants

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pp. 28-57

By the middle of the 20th century, the medical profession had made great strides in understanding important physiological aspects of hearing, but nevertheless had little to offer people who experienced a profound sensorineural...

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CHAPTER 2. Cochlear Implants: A Technological Overview

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pp. 58-77

When a child is identified with a severe to profound hearing loss, the family is faced with making many decisions. If auditory access is seen as an option, one decision may be whether or not a cochlear implant is appropriate. This chapter will focus on the technological aspects of cochlear implants...

PART II. Pediatric Cochlear Implants

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CHAPTER 3. Pre-Implant Issues

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pp. 80-111

When we met with parents, we asked them to describe the process leading to the realization that their child was deaf. Most of them learned of their child’s deafness quite gradually, except, of course, in those cases where the child had an illness, such as meningitis, which caused an immediate loss of hearing. In the absence of...

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CHAPTER 4. Language Development and the Decision to Get a Cochlear Implant

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pp. 112-130

Language development is probably the most contentious issue among those involved in the discussion concerning pediatric implant effectiveness, and we devote an entire chapter (chapter 9) to this issue later in the book. One of the major reasons why the parents we talked with wanted to get a cochlear implant for their child was because...

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CHAPTER 5. The Cochlear Implant Center, Surgery, and Short-Term Post-Implant Outcomes

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pp. 131-158

The parents we interviewed reported choosing surgeons in many different hospitals for the cochlear implant procedure.1 We asked parents what kind of advice and information they received from the implant center, if they felt they were an integral part of the decision- making process, if they felt there was some “pressure” from people at the implant...

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CHAPTER 6. Adjusting to Life After the Implant

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pp. 159-182

Parents of children with cochlear implants, as well as the children themselves, typically face several issues after the implant surgery. These include the time commitment parents need to make for their child to benefit as much as possible from a cochlear implant, and the mode or type of communication the children...

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CHAPTER 7. Educating a Child With a Cochlear Implant

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pp. 183-215

The issue of education is one that is of great concern to virtually all of the parents we talked with, and it occupied a prominent position in the Gallaudet Research Institute (GRI) questionnaire as well. Like most parents, parents of children with cochlear implants are concerned that...

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CHAPTER 8. Looking Back: Overall Progress and Satisfaction

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pp. 216-234

Almost all of the parents we talked with put a considerable amount of time and energy into the cochlear implant decision, as well as their child’s post-implant habilitation, and we wanted to know whether, in retrospect, they felt it was “worth it.” Are they pleased...

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CHAPTER 9. Language Development of Children With Cochlear Implants

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pp. 235-263

The comment above was made by a hearing father of a deaf child about two years after she received a cochlear implant (P. Spencer, 2000a). This child, just like her parents, was a fluent signer before getting the implant. And, according to her father, the family continued to use sign language after she was implanted. This child’s results from the cochlear...

PART III. Current Issues

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CHAPTER 10. The Deaf Community: Perceptions of Parents, Young People, and Professionals

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pp. 266-302

Despite the barrage of publicity outlining the intense negative reaction of many in the deaf community to cochlear implants, pediatric implantation has continued to increase exponentially. As noted in chapter 1, well over 35,000 people the world over have received the implant, and about half of those are children under the age of 18. This is clear...

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CHAPTER 11. Ethics and Choices: Ongoing Dilemma

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pp. 303-329

The question of whether parents have a right to implant a child without the child’s consent, or whether they should wait until the child is old enough to decide, hits at the heart of the pediatric implant debate. Experts viewing the same research data often come to diametrically opposed conclusions regarding the ethics of the procedure...

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Concluding Thoughts

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pp. 330-345

One of our goals in writing this book was to try and straighten out that confusion, especially for new parents. These parents often have to search far and wide to get the information that will help them understand the choices they are making for their deaf child. To aid them in their search for...


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pp. 346-347


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pp. 348-361


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pp. 362-373

E-ISBN-13: 9781563681677
E-ISBN-10: 1563681676
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563681509
Print-ISBN-10: 1563681501

Page Count: 372
Illustrations: 11 tables, 7 figures
Publication Year: 2002