sound of metal cochlear implants

Concerns about The Sound of Metal

I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut, but I give up. The Sound of Metal is getting lots of press, but I am concerned about the message it is giving about cochlear implants.

Yes, when CI’s get turned on they may not sound like speech but, with practice, it gets better and most adults who lost hearing feel that they really benefit from the sound of cochlear implants within a few months. For this young man to give up after a very short trial is giving a very bad message. I am concerned what parents of newly identified babies will feel when watching this movie in addition to what adults who loose their hearing will feel.

People keep asking me if that is what CI’s really sound like. In addition, I am concerned about the message, that this young man needed to move into a community of deaf people and leave those he loves outside. How can that support someone who is in crisis?

This may be a good movie, but it is not an accurate description of learning to use a CI and it is not doing a good job of helping people with hearing loss.

 

(interested readers can also see Gael Hannan’s post on the topic, discussing the good and bad depictions of hearing loss in Sound of Metal)

 

*Image credit Amazon

About Jane Madell

Jane Madell has a consulting practice in pediatric audiology. She is an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and LSLS auditory verbal therapist, with a BA from Emerson College and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Her 45+ years experience ranges from Deaf Nursery programs to positions at the League for the Hard of Hearing (Director), Long Island College Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center/New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as director of the Hearing and Learning Center and Cochlear Implant Center. Jane has taught at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, Downstate Medical School, and Albert Einstein Medical School, published 7 books, and written numerous books chapters and journal articles, and is a well known international lecturer.

5 Comments

  1. Thank you Jane for your blog and setting the message straight! As clinicians, educators, and family members who work in habilitation/rehabilitation and developmental management know, the infant, child, young adult, or adult whose brain is stimulated by cochlear implants usually adapts by expertly guided daily work, hard work, and “smart” work, while having a supportive learning community. Individuals with cochlear implants navigate a hearing world not only because of a community of love and support, but by overcoming difficulties while learning to discriminate and identify new sounds. Ultimately a child’s or adult’s strong desire to be successfully socially integrated results in listening independence and strategies to use in different listening situations, thereby having a choice to use listening and spoken language for communication.

  2. Agree! The screenplay writers should have spent a few minutes talking to real people who use CIs. There’s enough misinformation about hearing and hearing loss out there already. I will give the actor credit for doing a great job and I did think the soundtrack and editing to portray the isolation and challenge of severe/profound hearing loss was good. But overall – two thumbs down and a rotten tomato.

  3. Thank you! As a father of a 10 month old with brand new CIs, I found this movie to be unsettling. I watched it alone on a business trip and I’m glad my wife didn’t have to see it. You’re message gave me some solace.

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