Tallahassee Child Hears For First Time [GALLERY]

UPDATED August 21, 2013
By Julie Montanaro

Harper Moore just heard her dog bark for the first time, her sister sing for the first time and her parents's voices for the first time.

The seven month old from Tallahassee is deaf and one of the youngest children to receive a cochlear implant. We were there when doctors turned it on for the first time.

Harper Moore has been profoundly deaf since birth. Seven months and 11 days later, her parents are in the doctor's office at Shands Childrens Hospital waiting for her to hear for the first time.

"I'm sure I'll cry," her mother Amber Moore said as they waited for the doctor to arrive. "They've already stocked the room with tissues for me!"

Harper Moore had a cochlear implant embedded in her skull in July. Now doctors are attaching a processor - held in place with a magnet - that will allow her to hear the sounds so many of us take for granted.

"From the beginning the thing that bothered me the most was that she can't hear me tell her that I love her. So that'll be the first thing that I tell her," her mother said.

When doctors tuned on the tiny implant, it is indeed the first thing little Harper ever heard.

"Did you hear that? I love you. I love you."

"Harper?" her father Justin Moore said.

"Who's that?"

"Who is that?" he said.

"Is that daddy?"

Then doctors started testing the implant to make sure it was working properly and to make sure Harper could really hear.

The audiologist handed Harper's parents a bell to ring, blocks to clack, and a maraca to shake.

Audiologist Dr. Melissa Hall will turn up the volume gradually.

"She can just become uncomfortable because she's not accustomed to the stimulation yet," Hall said.

Now the family will have to saturate Harper with sound and immerse her in speech therapy. If all goes well she'll have a cochlear implant embedded in her left ear in a few months.

The Moore's know this procedure has its critics in the deaf community, but they hope it will give Harper a chance to be mainstreamed with other children her age.

Dr. Hall says the FDA recommends cochlear implants for children one year and up and most insurance companies do cover them as a medically necessary procedure.

By Julie Montanaro
July 10, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - A Tallahassee child may soon hear her mother's voice - and so many other sounds - for the very first time.

The six month old is one of just a handful of children in Tallahassee to receive cochlear implants. We met her when she got home from the hospital today.

Harper Moore can't hear her mother's soothing voice - or the dog barking out back.

She was born deaf. From her very first newborn screening to advanced audio brain response tests, doctors say to Harper it all sounded like this (silence).

"I cried that entire first day and then the next day decided we were going to do whatever we could to help her and get her hearing," her mother Amber Moore said.

The six month old had cochlear implant surgery at Shands on Tuesday.

Doctors imbedded a tiny receiver into her skull and in a few weeks, they'll attach a processor to the outside of her head and then turn it on.

"From the beginning the thing that bothered me most is she can't hear me tell her that I love her, so that'll be the first thing that I tell her," Moore said. "The audiologist will activate that ear, they'll point at me and I'll be the first person to talk to her. My husband and I have talked about ot and discussed it. He's fine with that. His big thing is she'd never be able to hear music, so I'm sure he'll play music the whole
way home from Shands so she can hear that."

Little by little, Harper's mom says, doctors will turn up the volume and if all goes well with the right ear, they'll do a cochlear implant on the left ear in a few months.

'At this age, they're like little sponges and they soak it all up and so if we immerse her in speech and language this early, she should be talking by the time she's 15 months old," Moore said.

Doctors are expected to activate Harper's implant on August 8th. We hope to share that life-changing moment with you.

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