A sporting chance - Jaydeep Patel


Having cochlear implants means more than being able to hear for Jaydeep Patel.

It means he can fully take part in life and everything that gets thrown at him.

The 14-year-old from Titirangi, West Auckland is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants in both ears. Because he can hear, Jaydeep can play team sports with his hearing peers. He is an avid hockey and cricket player and realises that without his devices, he wouldn’t be able to hear his team mates.

“I think my life would be completely different without my cochlear implants. I wouldn’t be able to communicate things to people as quickly and efficiently as I do now. I also wouldn’t be able to play team sports as easily.”

He has played hockey for school teams since he was 6 years old and club cricket since he was 9 years old.

“What I like about both cricket and hockey is that they are both team sports and I get to make friends that I wouldn’t normally approach. I really just like to play sports.

“I really want to be a cricketer when I am older. Or at least something involved in sports.”

Jaydeep was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss in February 2005, when he was two years old.

His parents, Vinod and Nirixa Patel, who have owned a Titirangi dairy for 17 years, were suspicious that something was wrong because he wasn’t responding to sound.

“Something inside was telling me,” Nirixa says. “We asked the family doctor and they said ‘no, he’s fine’. But we waited a very long time and he still wasn’t talking.”

When the diagnosis was finally made Nirixa says she felt “very sad” and “shock”.

“They told us he could learn sign language, but my English wasn’t good so how could I learn sign language too?”

The family was directed to The Hearing House, but Nirixa says she still didn’t believe her son was deaf.

“It took a very long time to accept.”

Jaydeep wore hearing aids in both ears for a year and a half and Nirixa says once he started talking she forgot the “bad feelings” she’d had.

He received a cochlear implant in his right ear when he was three and a half years old. It was switched on on September 11, 2006 and his habilitationist from The Hearing House, Estelle Gerrett, says Jaydeep “responded quickly to the new signal”.

A year later Estelle reported that Jaydeep was “an interactive, communicative boy who operates as a speaking, listening child”.

She says his good progress was due to “all members of his family supporting his listening and providing him with good language models”.

However, Jaydeep’s hearing in his left ear was deteriorating, so the family made the decision to raise the money themselves to cover the cost of a second device. The operation was carried out and the CI switched on in November 2015.

The Hearing House audiologist Laura Le Roux says she spoke to Jaydeep about how listening through the second device would sound strange and it would require a lot of perseverance on his part to get through this stage of the process.

“Some patients report initially that they only hear sounds like ‘beeps and whistles’ and if they do start to be able to hear words these are often reported as being ‘chipmunk like’, ‘squeaky’ and very ‘monotone’.”

Jaydeep, a student at ACG Parnell, says he was nervous about receiving the second implant, but in the end he “just did it”.

“I think [the second implant] helped me learn.”

The family speaks a West Indian language called Gujarati and English, and Jaydeep has taught himself basic Hindi from television programs.

Jaydeep, who likes to help out in the dairy because “it’s better than doing homework”, represented The Hearing House when he spoke at the Parliament of Australia as part of the annual First Voice Power of Speech conference in 2015.

“I felt really proud to be chosen to represent The Hearing House. My speech was about cricket and who I admire in the sport,” Jaydeep says.

“I felt really really nervous, I had never spoken to so many people before.”

Jaydeep has two sisters, Priyali, 24, and Krupa, 16, and Priyali says when Jaydeep was first diagnosed all the family could think about were “all the hurdles he would have to face”.

“To see him be no different than anyone else means he didn’t have to face those hurdles at all, which as a family is a huge relief. It means we have no reason to worry any extra for him than we would for any other member of the family,” she says.

“The fact that we can’t actually imagine how it would be if he [couldn’t hear] I think, speaks volumes for how amazing these implants are.

“And because of that seeing him play team sports is no different to us than seeing my sister play sports. The thought of him likely not being able to play otherwise doesn’t cross our mind at all. I suppose it’s all so good that we now take his ability to hear for granted,” Priyali says.

The family say The Hearing House gave them confidence that everything would be ok for Jaydeep.

“I’m glad there is The Hearing House,” Nirixa says. “Meeting other parents and kids gave us encouragement. The Hearing House has good people. We can’t give enough thanks to them.”

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