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Cochlear Implants in Children: Ethics and Choices

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INTERVIEWER: Did you feel that they were pushing you to get the implant? Or do you feel that they were just giving information, making it possible for you to make the decision?

MOTHER: I think they were doing that. Obviously they were pro-implant. I mean they . . . had seen the results of the implant.

Mother of a 10-year-old boy implanted in 1995

Related to parent involvement, one question in the GRI survey asked parents if they felt they were “a vital and valued member of [their] child’s CI [cochlear implant] team.” Parents were asked to consider “the period from before the implant surgery through the habilitation and educational adjustment after the surgery” as they answered this question. Of the parents responding to this question, 96% said they either agreed or strongly agreed that they were in fact a vital and valued member of their child’s cochlear implant team. Moreover, more than two-thirds of the parents reported that they were well acquainted, or very well acquainted, with the members of their child’s cochlear implant team. Parents were also asked to identify the professionals affiliated with their child’s cochlear implant center “who were involved in preparing for and facilitating [their] child’s use of the cochlear implant.” Table 5.1 summarizes the responses to this question.

Table 5.1
Professionals Affiliated With the Cochlear Implant Center Involved in Preparing for and Facilitating Child’s Use of the Implant

Professionals at the Cochlear Implant Center

Percent of Parents Citing Professional Involvement

Audiologist

95%

Surgeon

86%

Speech pathologist

75%

Psychologist

35%

Teacher of the deaf

34%

Educational consultant

20%

Social worker

10%

Other profession

3%

The results reported in table 5.1 are certainly not surprising, since surgeons, audiologists, and speech pathologists are the people responsible for implanting and mapping the device, and for making sure that the child benefits from it as much as possible.

The GRI survey also asked if the parents were satisfied with the counseling they received from their child’s implant team before the surgery. Almost 90% reported that they were either satisfied (24%) or very satisfied (65%) with the counseling they received.


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