Josh Foreman has more reasons than most to be grateful to his parents.
He was born profoundly deaf in both ears, but no one realised until his parents, who adopted him when he was 2 months old, began to wonder.
“They had their suspicions. I wasn’t responding to sounds that other babies would respond to – a dog barking, the doorbell ringing.”
Josh was two years old when it was confirmed.
“My parents were given a choice – I could learn sign language or get a cochlear implant.”
Josh, now 25, says he is very grateful that his parents chose the later, making him the then youngest person in New Zealand to have a cochlear implant (CI) fitted. He was two-and-a-half years old.
He completed eight years of intense therapy, six of them with The Hearing House, which his parents Bill and Diane Foreman were instrumental in helping to establish.
With the help of teacher aides Josh attended mainstream schools and he says this integration helped him develop his language skills.
“Being exposed to normal hearing peers helped me. They talked to me and I thought ‘I have to get used to this’. I was modelling myself on them.”
Josh says he is “really thankful” that his parents decided to get him cochlear implants.
“I’m really happy that they made that choice. A lot more opportunities have opened up to me.
“I’m enjoying hearing – music, birds, the waves.
“I find it hard to think I would have gotten this far without CIs.”
Josh certainly has come a long way – and he hasn’t stopped.
JOSH WENT TO THE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND AND GAINED A BACHELOR OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION. IN 2016 HE COMPLETED A MASTERS IN EXERCISE SCIENCE SPECIALISING IN CLINICAL EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGY.
He started university life with assistance from a reader and writer, but “I felt that was being lazy”.
Instead, Josh sat up the front of classes and lectures and paid more attention.
He says he wouldn’t be able to do his masters without CIs.
“The majority of communication these days is verbal. And I need to listen to my patients.”
He used a digital stethoscope when he was working with patients.
JOSH IS ALSO GRATEFUL THAT TECHNOLOGY HAS DEVELOPED. THE FIRST PROCESSOR HE WORE WAS CARRIED IN A LITTLE BAG ON HIS BACK. NOT ONLY ARE MODERN DEVICES SO MUCH SMALLER, BUT THEY CAN ALSO DROWN OUT BACKGROUND NOISE.
Josh says this means he is able to relax more when he is in social settings.
“I used to have to concentrate a bit more and I had to lip read.”
But now a conversation in a noisy café is comfortable and manageable.
Josh, who has worked as a swim instructor and a waiter, is now working at Auckland Hospital as a physiologist in the sleep department.
His long term goal is to open up his own clinic that will not only provide cardiac rehabilitation to patients, but also sports rehabilitation for athletes who have sustained injuries.
He also wants to save up to go travelling and then work overseas.
As a young man Josh has been keen to give back to The Hearing House and encourage teenagers with cochlear implants.
He volunteers as a mentor on the Hear For You programme. The mentoring weekend aims to give advice to teenagers and give them a confidence boost.
“These teenagers will have questions that only a deaf person will know the answer to. It’s so important that they can open up to someone.
“These kids talk, and really open up. They realise they are not alone.”