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Cochlear implants help three WL siblings hear and talk

A West Lafayette family hopes to bring awareness to cochlear implant technology.

Posted: Oct. 26, 2018 6:31 PM
Updated: Oct. 29, 2018 9:26 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Megan Lannert has five children, three of them were born 100 percent deaf. However, with cochlear implants, you wouldn't know it.

With the exception of Dad, everyone in this family has some form of Waardenburg Syndrome.

"Layman's term, it is a mutant X gene that is in the system, so it's hereditary," said Lannert. 

Waardenburg has multiple symptoms, like different color eyes. However, the most notable symptom is hearing loss. William, 11, Lexi, 9, and Gabe, 4, were all born completely deaf.

It's hard to tell with their cochelar implants though.

Lexi doesn't really need to know sign language because her implants allow her to hear pretty well. Which in turn, has allowed her to talk.

"I like art and math and science," explained Lexi. 

Her older brother William has the same type of technology, just a less updated version. He got them when he was two.

"Emotional and scary for him, he screamed his head off!" said Lannert. "You go from two years of hearing absolutely nothing to wow, hang on, wait a second what is that? That's somebody's voice!"

The technology is not a perfect fix and that's what Megan Lannert wants others to understand.

"He struggles every single day, whether it be in a classroom, whether it be even sitting here in this setting," said Lannert. 

All three of her children with deafness have to process what they hear.

"Where we sit here and have a typical conversation, they have to sit there and think and their conversations might be much slower than ours," said Lannert. 

"And I'm always trying to concentrate but I can't because my friends are so loud," explained William. 

Luckily, bluetooth technology has come a long way. With it, the kids can hook up to electronic devices like phones or even a teacher's microphone at school. Of course, there are also applications you can download for the devices as well. 

"It has a GPS tracker," explained Lannert. 

It's difficult to imagine what this technology will look like when the kids are adults.

"I can't! I think technology today has grown so much that I'm not exactly sure where it will be," said Lannert. 

But for now, all she can do is be thankful for this technology, roll with punches, and educate people on how to treat others with cochlear implants.

Lannert said if it weren't for St Joseph Institute For the Deaf in Indianapolis, Saint Mary's and Saint Boniface here in Lafayette or the Greater Lafayette Area Special Services, her kids wouldn't be where they are today.

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