When this video came out many in the culturally deaf community weren't as welcoming and some were just down right cruel while some in deaf run discussion forums were intent on banning hearing parents of deaf children with cochlear implants. Most others were more understanding and reflectively mature about such procedures performed at such a young age on a deaf baby.
The Today website revisited the baby boy who was implanted is now 5 years old shared with readers on the some of the things that weren't known about the circumstances surrounding the reason to implant Jonathan at such a young age.
He's also a bit of a miracle. On Christmas Eve of 2007, when Jonathan was just four months old, he contracted bacterial meningitis, an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord that can result in brain damage or death. He was hospitalized and recovered; however, the infection took a heavy toll on the boy and his parents.The article goes on to explain that Jonathan uses a walker to assist him with the walking since the bacterial meningitis he contracted gave him the equivalent of cerebral palsy. It has also left him deaf as well. The parents were given a now or never decision on cochlear implantation on the basis that Jonathan's cochlea was ossifying.
"We were in the hospital and because of the meningitis, we only had a couple of weeks to decide if we were going to do the cochlear implant," says Mark. "The cochlea was hardening because of the meningitis. We had a limited window to make a decision and if we didn't make it, it would completely ossify and we would never be able to do the implant in the future."
The Breauxs decided to go ahead with the surgery -- and to post videos of the results on YouTube in order to help other parents going through the same experience.The parents explained:
"We spent lots of time praying about it," says Brigette. "We didn't know the side effects of the meningitis. We didn't know his physical limitations, if he'd be able to sign. We tried to give him the best quality of life."Both parents say they're now positive they did the right thing. Indeed. If the boy was faced with the possibility of physical limits brought on by cerebral palsy like condition he should be afforded every opportunity on access to communication and language, and that includes having the cochlear implant.
How is he doing today?
Today, Jonathan is in kindergarten, attends speech therapy three times a week and uses both sign language and speech to communicate with others.There is another video that has gone semi-viral of baby girl, Marielle, that was implanted about the same time as Jonathan but received received her hearing aid at 3 month, and cochlear implant at 2 1/2 years old.
"In the last year, we've noticed his vocabulary is growing," says Mark. "A year ago, he was speaking barely one or two words but now he's combining words and enunciating much more clearly because of the speech therapy and just being able to process what we're saying. I think all of the input -- sounds, speech as well as sign language -- have given him multiple elements for communication."
She is now 6 years old and can speak and read better than majority of her classmates at her neighborhood school. In the YouTube video the parent left a caveat for those haters in the pro-ASL/anti-cochlear implant camp:
Before posting any ill informed comments - she has been exposed to both ASL and cued speech but prefers speaking.The girl was given three communication options, 1) ASL, 2) Cued Speech, and 3) speaking. It's not a wonder that the girl prefers to speak. Yet, I think it's good to combine both cochlear implant and sign language at an early age so you have the best of both opportunities and language acquisition.