01/05/2012 09:23 am ET Updated Mar 06, 2012

The Gift of Hearing

Living a life without the sense of hearing is no easy task. From mild cases to severe, people who possess this disability have many tough obstacles to overcome to live normally. But with modern technology, these obstacles become increasingly minute. Cochlear implants, which are devices that are surgically implanted into a patient's cochlear to improve their hearing, serve this exact purpose.

My youngest brother, Kyle, who is now 12 years old, was born profoundly deaf and was diagnosed when he was six months old. He was given a cochlear implant at 13 months, which is an astonishingly young age for a child to receive one. Later, at the age of five, Kyle received a second implant, which helps hearing immensely. Since he was capable of hearing at such an early stage in his life, he currently does not have any problems with his speech, although he visits his speech pathologist weekly. He speaks and hears so well that no one would even guess that he is deaf. In fact, some of my close friends I've known for my entire life just recently found out Kyle was deaf. When they found out, I heard reactions like, "Woah. Really?" and "No way!" They were not able to tell he had any type of setbacks in his hearing. Kyle brings these astounding skills to the classroom as well. He is extremely bright and brings home straight A's with ease. Without the aid of his cochlear implants, this is an accolade he would never be able to achieve.

Although cochlear implants help tremendously, there are some downsides to how they work. Kyle must change the batteries to them daily, which can be quite tedious work. But since he has done this for so long, it has become a natural routine in his everyday life. In addition, the cochlear implants are not waterproof and are not resistant to shocks given by plastic. Therefore, he is unable to swim with them on and is completely deaf when he is in a pool or the ocean, which can, at times, be dangerous. He is also the odd one out when kids play on plastic playgrounds and trampolines because the static shocks given to him would destroy the system that makes him able to hear.

There are also many amazing benefits for having these hearing devices. Obviously, the unsurpassed and primary benefit of cochlear implants is the gift of hearing. But there are several extra incentives to getting them as well. First off, you are capable of becoming deaf whenever you choose to. For example, Kyle takes his cochlear implants off when he is attempting to sleep, reading a book, and my personal favorite, when my mom is scolding him. Likewise, Kyle can hear music in his head when his cochlear implants are not on, which he calls "the sounds of the mind." I always say that he is the next Beethoven because Beethoven was able to hear music in his head and compose it even after he became profoundly deaf. But so far he hasn't revealed the musical genius inside of him.

In all, I believe Kyle is such an amazing, brave, and inspiring kid; he has to live with this disability every second of his life. People take the privilege of hearing for granted, not realizing how special it is and appreciating it. So I believe everyone should take a second and be grateful for what they have, because somewhere in the world, someone doesn't have the same great privileges that you do.