Cochlear implants give toddler gift of hearing

A little girl from Central Florida who was born deaf is now able and learning to hear at the age of one.

It’s been about 11 weeks since Ava had surgery for cochlear implants to allow her to hear. She’s now celebrating milestones and learning new sounds for the very first time.

You wouldn’t know it by interacting with her, but Ava’s had a long journey to get to this point.

Audiologists noticed she didn’t respond to sound on hearing screenings as an infant. A month later, another test result showed Ava was profoundly deaf.

"When you hear that your child has a deficiency like that where it’s profoundly death. She can’t hear anything. She can’t hear you say you love her or anything like that. It was really tough. It was really hard to accept," Blake Miller, Ava’s dad, said.

Ava’s parents searched for answers to help their little girl. Audiologists at Nemours Children’s Hospital soon confirmed Ava was a candidate for cochlear implants.

"There’s an electrode ray that is implanted into the damaged organ of hearing and that sends electrical signals into the inner ear that allow you to hear," Chelsea Clancy, an audiologist at Nemours Children’s Hospital, said.

A surgeon implanted the device when Ava was 10 months old, and audiologists turned them on a month later in December.

Ava’s experienced a lot of firsts since then, like hearing music at her first concert, hearing the sound of her toys, and recognizing her parents' voices by the time she turned a year old in January.

It will take Ava some time to adjust to the world of hearing, but a recent hearing test shows a lot of progress.

"I know there are no barriers to her success. She can do anything. Her disability is not going to stop her because of this," Macey Miller, Ava’s mom, said.

While Ava is still navigating through different sounds, her parents know they’ll always have their own special way of communicating with her.

"One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t need to say ‘I love you.’ You can show it through your actions," Macey Miller said.

Signs of hearing loss in babies can include: not being startled by loud noises, not turning toward a sound after six months of age, and not responding to his/her name.

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