Tim Brandau’s Story

June 6th, 2011 by | Tags: , | Comments Off

Tim at the age of 4 years old in 1987.

Tim Brandau first received his cochlear implant at the age of four years old in 1987 as part of the clinical trials.

I was born into a farming family and we lived on a farm Southwest of Osage, Iowa.  My older brother Tom was about 3 years old when I was born and so my mom and dad had an idea of how I should progress along in development.  Early on, they realized that I was not babbling or making noise in response to what was going on around me.  Family members, including my grandma started to notice something different about me, as early as six months of age.  My grandma recalled babysitting me and I was in a high chair, facing the wall opposite the cupboards.  She had pulled out some pans, and caused a ruckus.  She told me that I didn’t even respond to that.

When I was about 8 months old, my parents took me to get a hearing test.  This was 1984, and I was taken to the Area Education Agency (the AEA is a state funded agency that is assigned to a territory of Iowa for educational support services).  They were able to tell that I had hearing loss, but were not able to discern how much loss I had.  I was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa.  There, my parents found out that I was profoundly deaf in both ears.

Shortly after I was discovered to be deaf, an itinerant teacher of the deaf from the AEA came to our house and taught sign to my mom and me.  This teacher taught us Signed English, and I picked it up incredibly quickly.  My mom told me (many years later) that it seemed like I was hungry for a way to communicate.

Meanwhile, since we lived on a farm, a heightened sense of security had to be created.  I was allowed to play outside within an fenced in area of the yard and oftentimes, I had a leash hooked on to me so that I wouldn’t wander off and not hear something and be involved in something unfortunate.  My dad and uncles had to keep careful watch if I was in the yard.  I could not hear the tractors and as a little boy, these gigantic green machines fascinated me!

Life was good.  The farm life treated us well, and I was soon going to school at the age of 2 to participate in speech training and continue learning sign language.  I went to school for half of the day up through kindergarten.

My mom and dad heard through the AEA about a new thing going on at the University of Iowa, after further research, we found out about the cochlear implant program.  In 1987, the FDA had not yet approved cochlear implants for use in children.  In order for me to be considered as a candidate for the cochlear implant, my entire family had to undergo a battery of tests.

After all this, the cochlear implant team at the University of Iowa decided that I was a pretty good candidate for the cochlear implant.  My parents agreed with this.

Before I continue, I must point out that my parents had two plans at this point.  They would hope for the best with the cochlear implant, but understood that there was a chance that it would not work.  In respect to this possibility, they were prepared to take the family to Council Bluffs, Iowa and enroll me into the Iowa School for the Deaf.

So, at the age of 3 years and 10 months, I was implanted with the cochlear implant.  I was first ‘hooked-up’ to the speech processor about a month before I turned 4 years of age.

Through many years of speech training and school, I became proficient in both speaking and signing.  I consider this to be the best of both worlds and I have become a skilled communicator.

Today, I continue to wear my cochlear implant and I consider myself a part of both the hearing and Deaf worlds.

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