Cochlear implants and music appreciation is an interesting sub-topic and one that has given us some cause for thought. With so much of pre-school and early school years featuring action songs and the learning of rhymes, we feared Tom's hearing would be a significant barrier to participation. In the paranoid parents' brain I foresaw a dispondent son standing on the edge of a circle while all around him his peers Dingle Dangled their Scarecrows and Wound their Bobbins Up.
Michael Chorost, in his article 'My Bionic Quest for Bolero', addresses the issue in an engaging manner without skirting round the science of it. The limitations of the 'channels' of sound offered by implants makes distinguishing between note close together on the scale impossible. There is promise of more with Advanced Bionic's HiRes 120 Strategy .
We aren't quite at that level of need yet. The 16 channels (well, 15 in the left ear) that Tom is getting seem to be more than sufficent for him to get the tune, the all-important actions, most of the lyrics and a huge smile on his face.
As for the other nagging doubt - to explain it I have to admit, in a slightly guilty middle-class parent way, that Tom likes a bit of TV every once in a while but I've always had the impression that Tom wasn't really understanding much of what he heard. The quality of the sound is different to natural voices and there aren't always visual cues to aid understanding so I assumed it was just the bright colours and rapid movement that was holding his slack-jawed attention.
Watching Tom at AV therapy yesterday allayed this fear and much more besides. I watched most of the session with tears in my eyes; I was so moved by what Tom could do. It was such a simple exercise (as is so much of what we learn with the marvel that is Jacqueline Stokes). Jacqueline played an audio story on an old style mono cassette recorder which Tom and she followed with the book proper, stopping frequently to talk about what was heard and how it related to the story.
Tom was utterly inthralled; attentive, excited and hearing everything. He didn't miss a trick and, when the story was finished he wanted to plough on into the next one. The story held his attention for upwards of 20 or 30 minutes and then, with very little encouragement, he proceeded to recreate the story with toys for another half an hour.
Just to make anyone aware who's joining this story at this point (and remind the rest of you); Tom is deaf, relying on cochlear implants... and he's not quite three years old.
He is loving sound - he's also learning words that we haven't taught him (this is where it starts to get dangerous) and experimenting with the language he's learnt. His progress is such that we've scaled down to once every two months with Jacqueline. There's the transition to school to manage but I'm beginning to suspect that Tom won't be the quiet one on the edge of the circle - he'll be the irrepressible one that the teacher needs to shut up.