Diagnosed at birth with profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, Harrison had a tough start in life. Following weeks of advanced testing, from Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to genetic trials, the brave little warrior was ultimately confirmed to have Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD), a rare condition which affects only around 1 in 16,000 people.
His mother, Summer Greenham, was taken aback: “I’m often asked what I felt as a parent being told that my newborn baby was deaf. The honest answer was guilt, grief, loneliness, anger… and I had so many questions; would he ever hear my voice, would he learn to talk and communicate, would he achieve well in school, and, most importantly, could he live a normal life?”
The results were even more shocking in that Harrison’s family had no previous record of hearing loss. A real bolt from the blue, and a reminder that hearing loss can affect all people from every walk of life, at any age. However, Harrison and his mother refused to let his condition get the better of them. At just three months old, Harrison was fitted with his first set of hearing aids.
Yet, due to the serious nature of his hearing loss, it was recommended that he undertake a cochlear implant. This was an extremely difficult decision for Summer and her partner Kieran to make: they knew it would be a decision that impacted Harrison for the rest of his life, with no guarantees that it would have the desired effect.
“The next six months were the most daunting time. As parents there were times we questioned whether we were doing the right thing at all”, she reflects, “did the benefits outweigh the risks? But we knew this was the best chance at a life of hearing for our baby, so we learnt to trust the process.
After we met with the cochlear implant team and the surgeon who was set to perform Harrison’s surgery (and being given all the information), we knew that this was the right decision for our boy.”
At only 16 months old, Harrison was prepared and ready for his 6-hour bilateral cochlear implant surgery. For Summer and Kieran, this was a complete leap into the unknown; although they had heard so many success stories and testimonials from others who had had the surgery, every single hearing loss journey is unique to the individual – would this be a success for the young couple’s son?
Thankfully, Harrison’s road to recovery was quicker than the pair had hoped. The little’s man’s resilience shone forth as he managed to bounce back within a few short days, returning to his normal cheery self and scampering about the place as any 2-year-old does. This did pose something of a concern for Summer, though, as the operation meant he was vulnerable to knocks to his head. So began a worried but relieved few weeks as she explained to her son the precautions he would have to take from now on.
He was then enrolled in a specialized nursery, The Elizabeth Foundation for Deaf Children, which afforded him the opportunity to be surrounded by children like himself in an environment suited to their needs. Now 6 years old at a regular comprehensive school, Harrison is a happy, confident, chatty little boy whose parents couldn’t be more proud of how far he’s come in his brief time.
“We call him ‘Hear-O’ Harrison because he has his own superpower, his magic ears. We tell him this makes him unique and special and that he should be proud to be deaf and embrace his cochlear implants and educate people about them. He loves explaining what his cochlear implants are to anyone who asks”, Summer beams.
Thanks to Hearing Aid Accessories’ partnership with DEAFMETAL, Harrison was gifted two sets of cochlear implant covers. Their bold design matches the indefatigable courage of our ‘Hear-O’ himself. As he puts it:
“I absolutely love my covers from Hearing Aid Accessories because they make my processors look really cool and I like to show them off to my friends. I love that I can change them by myself. I have been wearing my football one the most because I love to watch England play and it’s good luck! I wear my ‘pow’ accessory when I’m doing taekwondo because I’m like a superhero!”
Thanks to the love and support he has received, and the adversity he has battled from day one, we cannot help but agree. You’re not just like a superhero, Harrison – you are one.