Sound Recovery: Callier Gives Toddler A Fresh Start

After Cochlear Implants, 3-Year-Old Can Get Back to the Business of Being a Boy

July 24, 2008

With the Callier Center’s help, Jordan Capener is picking up where he left off.

In January 2007, Jordan was a healthy, active 21-month-old little boy who enjoyed going to Kindermusik classes and playing with toys. Without warning, he became very sick.

After two visits to his pediatrician and one round of antibiotics, Jordan was admitted to the emergency room at his local hospital.  His condition worsened, and he was CareFlighted to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

At Children’s, Jordan was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis although he had received the meningitis vaccine. While in the intensive care unit (ICU), the doctors determined that Jordan had also sustained several small strokes due to the infection.

His prognosis was grim.

Bacterial meningitis is extremely dangerous and can produce a variety of complications, including mental retardation and deafness. Knowing this, the doctors performed an auditory brainstem response (ABR) test, and the results showed that Jordan had suffered profound hearing loss.

Jordan remained in a coma for two months. His parents, Todd and Michelle Capener, were told he may not survive. If he did, he would “never be normal.” But the Capeners knew there was hope. Michelle immediately asked the doctors if Jordan would be a candidate for cochlear implants.

Before agreeing to the surgery, the Capeners wanted to make sure Jordan’s hearing loss was permanent and not just a result of his coma state. The doctors at Our Children’s House at Baylor waited a couple of months before asking Dr. Jackie Clark, audiologist with the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, to conduct a second ABR. The results concluded that Jordan was deaf.

The Capeners were devastated, but they knew they needed to act quickly. They visited the Callier Center and met with Holly Whalen, audiologist, and Melissa Sweeney, Cochlear Implant Program manager, for Jordan’s initial assessment and screening.

On May 15, 2007, Jordan received his cochlear implants at Children’s Hospital.

Fifteen days later, Jordan’s implants were turned on, and he could hear for the first time since his illness.

The Capeners were cautious with Jordan’s initial success. They knew there were no guarantees, but they continued to move forward. They enrolled Jordan in the Callier Center’s speech therapy program where he worked with Shannon Raby, speech-language pathologist, once a week.

About a week after his implant activation, Jordan said his first word:  “choo choo.”

“Jordan came to Callier with no language or comprehension due to his illness, but over a short amount of time, he surpassed where he was prior to his illness,” said Shannon. “There are many patients that capture my heart with their amazing progress, but Jordan has truly overwhelmed me with how great he has done since his surgery.”

Today, Jordan is a vibrant and happy 3-year-old boy with almost 800 words in his vocabulary. He still attends occupational and physical therapy, but he has regained his true passion: music. Jordan loves to play the drums and guitar, and he really loves to sing.

Although his speech therapy goals were met in January 2008, he will continue to visit Shannon every few months just to make sure he stays on track. He also visits Holly for MAPping of his implants, which is a process that programs the implant so that the patient can properly hear without any pain or discomfort.

“Everyone at the Callier Center has been very supportive and willing to answer all our questions,” said Michelle. “It has been so great because they have celebrated Jordan’s success right along with us.”

Because Jordan already had language skills before his illness, his experience and progression may be very different from children who are born deaf. But, with early diagnosis and treatment, anything is possible.

“I want parents and physicians to never give up on a patient,” said Michelle. “People, and especially children, will defy all expectations.”

The UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders is a part of the Dallas Cochlear Implant Program (DCIP). The DCIP is a collaborative enterprise of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, The University of Texas at Dallas, and Children's Medical Center.

The DCIP brings together knowledge, discipline and service focused toward a singular vision of Cochlear Implant advancement. Through research, education and patient services, the program offers a broad scope of endeavor driven and enhanced by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, audiologists, speech pathologists, psychologists, educators and other professional researchers.


Media contact: Debra Brown, UT Dallas, (214) 905-3049, debra@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Jordan on the slide

Cochlear implants and the Callier Center’s speech therapy program have given Jordan Capener a fresh start.

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