Nina tells the story of her daughter, Leighton, and her diagnosis of auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder. After receiving a cochlear implant, Leighton has thrived in her vocalizations and ability to communicate. See how she is doing today:


“Leighton’s diagnosis began at birth when she failed her newborn hearing screening. After many months of testing and travelling to multiple specialists, she was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD). Her MRI revealed both of her auditory nerves were small, which caused her severe to profound hearing loss. It soon became clear that hearing aids alone would not give her the access to sound she needed. We met with our doctor, one of the pioneers of cochlear implant surgery, and were advised to try one cochlear implant first to see how she would benefit.

The Cochlear Choice

Child with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder and her cochlear implantsWe did plenty of research between the different cochlear implant brands and very quickly decided upon Cochlear. We knew this would be a long-term relationship and wanted to be sure we were making the right choice. Their reliability information for the implant and the prevalent market share appealed to us, plus we wanted the direct connectivity to our Apple®12 devices. We were even more ecstatic to learn she’d be able to wear her processors while swimming thanks to the Aqua+3 kit!

In hindsight, I am incredibly thankful we chose Cochlear, as the connections and relationships we’ve made within the Cochlear Family are invaluable. We’ve connected with a number of local families, our regional Cochlear representative and even our amazing audiologist specializing in cochlear implants. We are so thankful for these relationships and the immense benefits they’ve provided us. Every interaction we’ve had with the Cochlear brand thus far has been positive, which is further reassurance that we’re in good hands.

Leighton’s Journey

Child with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder with her Aqua+ kitsWe couldn’t have asked for smoother surgeries and recoveries. Leighton was back to herself in less than 48 hours after each surgery thanks to our gifted surgeon and his team. After activation and a few mapping appointments, it was clear Leighton’s access to sound had improved tremendously. Through plenty of auditory verbal therapy (AVT) with her skilled and persistent therapist, her spontaneous vocalizations grew exponentially, and she was saying 100+ words in less than six months.

We were also blessed enough to relocate so she can attend a specialized auditory oral school this fall, with the long-term goal of eventually joining her mainstream peers. Her teachers will be Listening and Spoken Language Specialists (LSLS) and she’ll receive daily auditory verbal therapy. We know it will be a long, arduous journey to close the speech and language gap between her and her hearing peers, but we can confidently say she now has the tools she needs to do so.

Fun facts about Leighton:

-Age: 3 years

-Favorite Food: Ice Cream

-Favorite Movie: Frozen4

-Favorite Animal: PuppiesChild with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder playing golf

The fun!

Like any 3-year-old, Leighton is extremely active and loves to be outside. You can usually find her having fun in tennis lessons, playing golf with her daddy, or swimming with friends, all while wearing her sound processors proudly. It is evident she’s now better able to understand and follow auditory instruction. She enjoys helping to cook family meals, coloring, reading books and making messes. She is beginning to articulate her wants and needs more clearly, which every parent knows is priceless. She loves to chase her uncles, chat with her grandparents and have play dates with her friends.

Child with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder playing tennis

I remember feeling so hopeless when Leighton was first diagnosed. I cried many tears wondering if she would be able to live a happy, fulfilling life. I’m sharing our story because we want every parent of a deaf child to know the possibilities are endless for our children. Whatever method of communication they choose, our children are undoubtedly able to flourish and thrive. I am forever grateful to Cochlear for giving my child the ability to hear if she so chooses, and I can’t wait to see all the greatness she will accomplish in her lifetime.”

Was your child diagnosed with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder? Learn more about cochlear implants here.

  1. For information on sound processor and app compatibility, visit
  2. Apple is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
  3. The Nucleus 7 Sound Processor with Aqua+ is water resistant to level IP68 of the International Standard IEC60529. This water protection rating means that the sound processor with the Aqua+ can be continuously submerged under water to a depth of 3 m (9 ft and 9 in) for up to 2 hours. This water protection only applies when you use a Cochlear Standard Rechargeable Battery Module or Cochlear Compact Rechargeable Battery Module.
  4. © Disney, All Rights Reserved
Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy at Cochlear Americas. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.