16-year-old Isaac has a lot in common with many kids his age. He attends high school in sunny southern California. He enjoys spending quality time with his friends and family. Plus, he considers himself a sports fanatic. His favorite team is the Raiders and he plays for his school’s baseball, football, and soccer teams.
What sets Isaac apart is that he plays with a hearing aid and a cochlear implant, both of which he received when he was just three years old. We caught up with Isaac ahead of his first big Friday night football game to learn more about his hearing aid/ cochlear implant life both on and off the field.
What was it like growing up w/ hearing loss?
Since I received my devices so young, I don’t remover what life was like before them. I’m grateful that they were there as I learned how to speak and how to communicate. I do remember that I was a typical kid about wearing them — I hated having to put them on daily, or having to charge them every night. But I eventually saw the bigger picture and realized all the ways they were enhancing my life.
What’s it like to play football with a cochlear implant and a hearing aid?
My experience playing the game is a little different than people who play without a cochlear implant or hearing aid. I have to wear something called a skull cap, which goes around my head and keeps my equipment in place when I get tackled or I’m making plays. I can’t always hear everyone at once, but I can follow instructions, listen for plays, and coordinate with my team.
What would be the difference of playing without your devices?
Playing without these would be much more complicated. I wouldn’t be able to hear instructions, or the whistle being blown, and it would be harder to understand what was going on if I had to rely on watching alone. Plus, football is a major team sport. Having my hearing aid/ cochlear implant ensures I’m able to communicate with my teammates and my coaches. Constant back and forth communication is crucial, and my devices ensure I can participate in-time.
What do you wish more people understood about wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant?
That my hearing isn’t 100% perfect, so I may need to ask for people to repeat themselves.
How are you feeling ahead of your first football game?
I’m so excited! The journey has been very cool. I respect my coaches and I’m lucky to have the support of my friends and family. I’m grateful for the instruction, the training, and I can’t wait to play.