By Eric Sherman
This summer has been extremely hot and my son won’t get out of the water. For many people, swimming is a fun and refreshing activity…especially when it’s hot. For parents, (like us), with a child who is profoundly deaf, swimming can be quite challenging, nerve racking and scary.
When trying to beat the heat, we head to the beach and my son loves to swim in the ocean looking for fish. He will chase them by diving through waves and swimming away from the shore. I often find myself in the water for hours making sure he is safe. It is exhausting and frightening trying to keep him from drifting to far down the beach and/or getting caught up in the current or swimming into large sets of waves.
Thankfully, he wears waterproof bilateral cochlear implant processors and can hear instructions about where to swim and when to come in, etc. This has been extremely helpful in keeping our son water safe! It also enables us to do more water sports, like surfing and body boarding. We do check his devices periodically to make sure they are on and working. Sound quality is not a concern as long as he can hear his name and follow instructions.
If you’re having problems getting your child to wear their CI device in the water because of sound quality, comfort or wearing configuration options… then try to find solutions that will help make them comfortable in the water with their device. It’s a safety issue more than anything else. It’s important for your child to be able to hear lifeguards, other people, oncoming boats or personal watercrafts and especially you. When my son was swimming looking at fish, he was drifting to far from me; I yelled his name, his head popped up out of the water. I told him to swim back towards me and he did. Without the ability to hear, we would probably limit his swimming activities. Swimming is therapeutic for our son, so this would not be a good thing.
In our house, we make wearing cochlear implant processors mandatory in the water like wearing sun block. Most cochlear implant manufactures offer a water configuration for their devices. In time your child will get use to and understand any sound differences in the water, but make sure they are comfortable. In the long run, your child needs to hear to be safer and will likely they will have a more enjoyable experience.
Ci Wear is a CI shirt designed with pockets for cochlear implant (CI) processors and other listening devices. Use as a rashguard, swim shirt or an exercise apparel. Shop now at www.ciwear.com