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My name is Lissa Ellen and I'm 20 years old. I have a Nucleus Freedom. I was born almost 12 weeks premature.
My mum had an idea from 8 months that I might be deaf, I guess I was not as responsive as Jennifer, since she used to shout my name and make noises. Other family members used to say I heard things, such as door slamming, footsteps, but my mum knew I was feeling vibrations. My mum told the doctors at my 8 month check up that she had concerns that I had a hearing loss. Her fears were confirmed and I was given a diagnosis of bilateral severe-profound sensorineural hearing loss at 9 months.
My parents was relieved that deafness was my only permanent problem since doctors warned them that we would have disabilities or have life threatening issues. I was slow to sit up, crawl and walk. But physiotherapy helped with that and I took my first steps at the grand old age of 18 months.
I began to wear hearing aids at the age of 12 months and loved to wear my hearing aids. You hear a lot of deaf kids refusing to wear hearing aids and trying to lose them, well I was never one of those kids.
I went to Thomasson Memorial School for the Deaf, which I loved so much. I loved the small class sizes, staff and my friends. The school used total communication, there was 3 classes for those whom used sign and 3 for those who used speech. Teachers told my mum not to use sign with me, but she ignored them and used basic sign since I could not communicate much and used to be very frustrated. She did learn it a year or two after I started school and passed Level 1 BSL when I was five. I was placed in an oral class and was brought up to speak.
My hearing started to worsen around 9 years old, my hearing loss was now profound and from that point, my parents started to look into a cochlear implant again for me(they tried when I was five but I had too much hearing with hearing aids) This time we was successful and I got implanted at 10 1/2 years old.
Surgery was on October 25th 2000 at Manchester Royal Infirmary, switch on was on Nov 28th that year.
I do not remember activation day very much but I can remember coming home and hearing all the new sounds I'd never heard before, such as a light switch when you turn it on and off, I kept turning it off and off just to hear it, we had budgies and the time and I'd never heard them before. Many things I was able to hear on activation day! Activation day unlocked a world of new sound for me. I used to hate mappings for a year or two after that since I was not used to it. I used to get home from Manchester and burst into tears because it was too loud, but now, I get used to a mapping by the time I get home.
I went to a mainstream high school which had a Hearing Impaired Unit(HIU) based in the school. I mainstreamed in all classes except Modern Languages, we was not allowed to take it, so we used that time to do extra work if needed or recapped on vocabulary etc. I loved high school, I enjoyed the first 2 years of English but then work began to get harder. I did have a Communication Support Worker(CSW) in all my classes, it made things easier for me since I did not have to rely on lipreading the teacher while they was moving about, the sign support really helped me and it was easier to do my work.
I went to college for three years and studied childcare and education, this involved in working in a day nursery and schools every other week for 3 years.
I really enjoyed working with children and found it quite easy to communicate with them and taught some of them sign language, again I had a communication support worker but she stood back most of the time and was only there to interpret what the children said if I was really struggling. Even the teachers at some schools said I understood the children better than they did as I am a lipreader! I was able to do a placement with deaf children for a while, I enjoyed this and I’m sure they was happy to see a adult just like them. I love hearing with a cochlear implant, it gives me so much access to sound that hearing aids would never give me and my life is easier, although it does not give me perfect hearing! Would like to go bilateral someday.Today I hear pretty well, I am able to have conversations without lipreading(depending on the environment), I can hear a clock tick tock every second, I can talk, I work in a totally hearing environment(can be hard), I wear my processor on a daily basis and I thank the doctors, audiologists and Graeme Clarke daily.