Local News

Children With Cochlear Implants Doing Well In Mainstream Classrooms

Posted May 4, 2006 7:53 a.m. EDT

— The WRAL Health Team has been following the Allen family of Wake Forest since 1999. That's when 7-month-0old Evan Allen was the youngest child in the country to receive a cochlear implant.

All three of the Allen children have cochlear implants, but their successes have not come without a lot of work at school and at home.

It is time for a little Spanish at Heritage Elementary in Wake Forest. Just a few years ago, someone like Evan Allen might struggle just to speak English.

Evan was born deaf like his older sister Bethany and younger brother Layton. Cochlear implants help each of them hear and have a chance to learn, speak and play with other children who hear normally. Their teachers say they fit right in.

"He has done beautiful and he is academically one of the highest in the class," said teacher Jenny Poulsen.

However, Evan needs to be close to his teacher's voice, so she wears a microphone and he sits near a speaker. Bethany always has a portable FM speaker right in front of her.

Many people may think a cochlear implant is a cure-all.

"They think that once they get the implant, you know, that they're fixed and everything's OK. They hear and they begin to speak, but it comes with a lot of hard work," said Stacy Allen, the children's mother.

A lot of that hard work happens at home. Two speech therapists work with each of the Allen children -- mixing games with sounds. When the therapists are gone, Anthony and Stacy Allen, the children's parents, keep the therapy going.

"But we also try to intertwine that throughout our day and make it a part of our lifestyle," Stacy Allen said.

The children are in a good, supportive school. Their parents see to it they get the help they need. But, perhaps, the greatest advantage the Allen kids have is each other.

Obviously, a lot of work goes into helping children with cochlear implants - how about the costs?

The costs of cochlear implants can be high--surgery alone costs up to $80,000. UNC began a program to help children after surgery and that costs money, too. To give financial assistance to the program, you can send donations* to:

Medical Foundation of N.C. 800 Martin Luther King Blvd. Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514

*Write CASTLE in Memo line