Mandy first had a feeling something was off with Jake when he was several months old. He wasn’t interacting or responding the way he should be. When she mentioned her concerns to her family doctor, Jake was sent for a hearing test. “We didn’t even finish the test,” says Mandy. “It was pretty obvious.” Though she’d assumed something was wrong, confirmation he was suffering from profound hearing loss was devastating. Mandy feared for her son’s future – would he ever talk? Would he go to school? Make friends? Would he be bullied? As his family is from Red Deer, Jake needed the specialized pediatric care of the audiology and speech therapy teams at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. An acquaintance of the family had gone on a similar journey at the hospital, so thankfully Mandy and Scott knew what to expect. Jake received hearing aids, but hardly made a difference. The team arranged for Mandy and Scott to meet another family who had a child with cochlear implants. To see the progress that child had made and to know he could hear and talk and interact was so encouraging. It helped them confidently decide to go ahead with cochlear implants for Jake.
On January 18, 2016, Jake had cochlear devices implanted by ENT surgeon Dr. Brooks. Though it was a long and trying day Mandy and Scott viewed the surgery as a step forward, the beginning of a new chapter in their son’s life. About 5 weeks after the operation, specialists began turning Jake’s implants on and adjusting them slowly but surely. Over the next several months, his parents were thrilled to watch their son learning about the world around him by hearing and eventually starting to speak. It was sweet to see him make connections between sounds and objects – Mandy remembers him witnessing a car drive down the street and then wondering why parked cars do not make the same noise. Because he was learning these things later in life than most kids, his reactions and excitement were that much bigger and more exciting to witness, says Mandy. As well, for the first time, they truly got to see Jake’s personality shine.
These days, Jake comes to the hospital once every two weeks for speech therapy and every three months for follow-up with the audiology team. He is currently speaking in the 15-18-month old range and progressing every day. Mandy is so grateful for the audiology team at the hospital, especially Bernie, Ali and Davine, who have provided so much knowledge, education, support and comfort family throughout the journey. She says thanks to the hospital, those awful worries she had for Jake in the beginning are just a memory and she’s confident he can do anything that anyone else can.