I recently wrote two articles for Gael Hannan's "The Better Hearing Consumer" and "Hearing Views" for Hearing Health & Technology Matters, a web-based site for anyone seeking information on hearing health.
One of my articles tells about my experience of teaching with a hearing loss. It was met with accolades and lots of positive comments. People love to hear CI success stories.
The other wasn't received as readily.
I wrote about the CI community's position of advising recipients to "Keep your expectations low and your hopes high". I disagree with that philosophy. My experience as an educator bristles when I hear a person telling another to have low expectations, and in my piece I addressed a well-documented and researched phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect, whereby high expectations yield high results.
Immediately upon posting my article on her Facebook page, several members of the CI community responded in less favorable reviews. It was exactly what I'd expected from them. Comments of how my experience wasn't representative of the greater community and how there are a lot of variables that affect success and that having high expectations isn't realistic, yada yada yada. They missed the message. My article wasn't about achieving success or not. It was about raising expectations.
What they failed to understand is that achievement, realistic or grandiose, is greatly influenced by expectations. I am fully aware that each person brings their own unique set of circumstances and conditions to their CI experience. Being realistic doesn't mean lowering your expectations. It means understanding them. What I question is the continued discouragement of new CI recipients. It is proven that if one has high expectations for success, then you will most certainly achieve higher results than if you had expected less. So why not encourage high expectations along with those high hopes?
In a Facebook group, I once asked why everyone kept saying that. The community responded in like-mindedness that low expectations kept you from feeling "disappointed." It seems the CI community is ingrained in their low expectations -- as if it is some rite of passage or badge of honor
when the CI doesn't deliver the results they had wanted.
The process of implantation and rehabilitation were fully explained by my medical team prior to surgery. I was told by my otologist and my audiologist that I was a prime candidate for success -- above so many others -- because I had only been deaf for a relatively short time. The neural pathways to hearing with a CI were healthy and easily "awakened". I had the potential to be "fully hearing" with the CI. Many recipients, however, have been deaf for a very long time or face hearing disorders that I do not have. Their pathways are weak and may never fully awaken. They may never achieve what I have.
They shouldn't compare themselves to me.
But the expectation should remain the same -- that they will be able to hear when they could not hear before. Expecting the very best results for their unique conditions is paramount. Otherwise, why even venture down this road?
The cochlear implant isn't a miracle fix for hearing loss. And it isn't for everyone with hearing loss. But for those whose medical conditions warrant it, the CI can lead to better hearing. You have to expect success.
Read my article at the link below.