Rhythm by name – and by nature
Ask Rachna and Sunil Goyal what their son’s greatest achievement is and they will tell you it’s the fact they forget he has cochlear implants.
This is testament to Rhythm’s progress when it comes to listening and spoken language.
“We forget about the cochlear implants. He makes us feel like that,” Rachna says.
“People remind us when they ask ‘what is that on his head?’.”
Three-year-old Rhythm is profoundly deaf and has two cochlear implants.
He failed the new born hearing screening and another test two months later.
Rachna says while the tests were being carried out they didn’t think a hearing loss would be diagnosed so they felt quite comfortable.
A month later, Rhythm’s hearing loss was confirmed.
“It was heart breaking news for us,” she says.
Rhythm was given hearing aids but these weren’t enough to help him hear, so the couple began considering cochlear implants.
“We were very scared. We kept changing our minds – yes, no, yes, no.
“We met with other Hearing House families, including an Indian family – both boys had cochlear implants. That was quite convincing for us. We could see the benefit and their growth and development.”
Rhythm had surgery when he was 8 months old and Rachna says the early months were very difficult.
“I cried a lot. Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t do it. It was really hard for me.
“But now I don’t remember any of that.”
Today, Rhythm is a very social and independent child who speaks English and is learning words in Hindi, Maori, Spanish, Sign Language and can lip-read.
His language has come a long way in a short space of time.
“When he wasn’t speaking, when he was 2, we were waiting for his first words. Now we have to say ‘can you please be quiet’.”
Rachna says cochlear implants have had a big impact on their family’s life.
“It’s made a huge difference – if his cochlear implants weren’t there, we wouldn’t have his sound in our life.”
“He knows they are very powerful for him. He calls them his Electric Ears,” Rachna says.
“He likes to draw cochlear implants and then I have to cut them out so he can stick them on his toys.
“He is truly like his name. He loves music and he loves Bollywood music. If he is crying you can play music and he will calm down.”
Loud Shirt Day is an important occasion for the Goyal family and they’ll be looking at getting Rhythm’s kindergarten involved, as well as raising money by selling Indian savouries and tea.
“This is fundraising for deaf kids,” Rachna says. “The Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Programme do so much for our deaf kids and we need to support them so they can continue providing these services.”
Rachna says she and Sunil are incredibly proud of their son.
“We’re proud of everything. Everything about him we love. We are very lucky to have him.
“I think he’ll have a bright future. He will do very well in life.”