Deaf Child Hears Mother’s Voice for the First Time and Does the “Happy Dance”


The happy dance is one we all do from time to time. Perhaps you get the kids to take a four hour nap when you’re busy and need that time. Perhaps you find flights have dropped $1000 in the past week making your vacation affordable. There are so many reasons to do the happy dance, but none as good as the dance that 3-year-old Kennedy Steele did for her mother recently. The toddler did a happy dance because for the first time in her entire life, she was able to hear the sound of her mother’s voice – and she loved it. The toddler was born without the ability to her. Unfortunately, her issue is not one that is easily corrected with cochlear implants, the devices that make it possible for so many other deaf children and adults to hear for the first time. Kennedy has no auditory nerves. Researchers and doctors had to implant a device in her brain to help bypass this and enable her to hear, and it worked.

The device has been used on adults in the recent past, and after the FDA approved this device for children, Kennedy was able to hear the words her mother spoke. Dr. J. Thomas Roland Jr. from the NYU Langone Medical Center is cautiously optimistic following the success of the surgery and Kennedy’s ability to hear. However, he does warn that now it becomes a question of whether or not the implant will allow recipients to process information, to hear everything and to become fully functional in terms of their vocabulary and their hearing. And while no one knows just yet, Kennedy’s mom is looking forward to the fact that it will. She said she and her family hope that one day they can better communicate with their sweet toddler in a more practical manner, and that they’re very excited about the possibilities.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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