Families hail the success of a programme involving cochlear implants that enable children to hear. But its use remains controversial
Being told their daughter, Alice, had a rare hearing disorder was devastating to Chris and Claire Campbell. Even more upsetting was being told she might need lifelong help. Alice had been diagnosed with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD), a condition affecting how sound is transmitted from the inner ear to the brain and the ability to understand speech. Alice, however, has confounded the audiologist's prediction: she is at a mainstream school and learning music alongside other six-year-olds, and has language skills beyond what is considered "age-appropriate" for a hearing-impaired child.
Her parents put this success down to auditory-verbal therapy (AVT). Alice began AVT after she was fitted with a cochlear implant – a small electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf. AVT is an intensive play-based method using residual hearing to pick up speech sounds for learning spoken language.