Ten-year-old Sophie R. was born deaf, has bilateral cochlear implants and is succeeding in her mainstream classroom. Since she’s the only child in her school with cochlear implants, she takes the time each year to educate her classmates about her hearing loss, cochlear implants and how she’s just like them:
We start the party by reading the book, “Let’s Hear It for Almigal,” about a girl who gets cochlear implants (CIs). Then we play games that use our sense of hearing and talk about what it’s like to be deaf. I show them my sound processors and explain how my cochlear implants work, then I let them ask questions.
My classmates want to know things like if my cochlear implants are waterproof, how they work, what the surgery was like, and if my CIs are stuck to my head permanently.
My mom held our family’s first hearing party in our backyard in September 2006 when I was almost three months old, and I got my first hearing aids. The next September when I was 15 months old, I got my CIs activated so we had another party! After that, it became a tradition. So, when I started going to a mainstream school, we decided to have our parties there to teach the other kids about my CIs.
My classmates are always very curious about my CIs. They usually like the book and the treats we bring in. We like to bring cupcakes, and we bring goody bags with a printed card showing the American Sign Language alphabet, noisemakers and a packet of pop rocks!
My classmates like the hearing parties because the kids who were in my class the year before are eager to learn more about my CIs, and people who haven’t been in my class before will be able to learn something new.
I like my hearing parties because it helps me learn how to communicate with people without feeling nervous, and it teaches me more about myself. It also shows the other kids that I am comfortable answering questions about my CIs, and it’s something they can talk to me about.
The most important thing I want them to know is that because of my CIs I can talk, and I’m just like them because some people think deaf people can’t talk or do the same things hearing people can do.
Through my hearing parties, my classmates also get to learn a little bit more about me. I want them to know that I am proud of my CIs, and I am proud to be deaf!”
To see Sophie’s full story as told by her mother, click here.