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This mother-daughter duo advocates for the deaf community with textured hair one viral hairstyle at a time.

Navigating Cochlear Implants and Textured Hair for My Deaf Daughter Gave Motherhood a New Meaning

This mother-daughter duo advocates for the deaf community with textured hair one viral hairstyle at a time.
Navigating Cochlear Implants and Textured Hair for My Deaf Daughter Gave Motherhood a New Meaning

Hair and hearing—a unique combination that has become an unexpected source of creativity and pride in my journey as a mother to a deaf child. From the beginning, my experience with my now 3-year-old daughter, Lyric, has been marked by challenges that extend beyond the typical lack of sleep for new parents. It all began with concerns about her developmental progress. Notably, she displayed a lack of response to loud noises, prompting me to raise these issues with our pediatrician.

Despite my persistent concerns and the absence of a hearing test since her home birth, there was a reluctance to delve deeper into the matter. My concerns were consistently dismissed, and there was a lack of urgency to investigate further. Trusting my maternal instincts, I sought answers elsewhere. By 10 months, we discovered Lyric had severely profound sensorineural hearing loss. Our family rallied and found support and the best possible care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After experimenting with hearing aids, we opted for bilateral cochlear implant surgery for Lyric, unaware of the challenges ahead.

These remarkable devices, surgically implanted to stimulate the auditory nerve directly, transformed Lyric's world and our family's dynamics. However, amidst our joy and relief, a new challenge emerged—one that wasn't addressed in our discussions: the compatibility of cochlear implants with coily hair.

Lyric adores her 4C coils and having them styled. They are truly her crowning glory. Yet, certain hairstyles often clashed with her cochlear implants, leading to frequent disconnections. The external processor of the implants, crucial for their functioning, attaches to the head with a magnet, which can be easily disturbed by hair manipulation. As challenges arose, I turned to Lyric’s audiologists for guidance only to find that her hair texture was not covered in their textbooks, leaving us to navigate this aspect of her care on our own.

Breaking Barriers: How a Dynamic Mother-Daughter Team Champions Deaf Representation Through Hair

This struggle extends beyond mere inconvenience, as these devices are essential for Lyric to connect with the world around her. The challenge of ensuring a secure connection for her cochlear implant processor is compounded by the complexities faced as a Black mother. With limited representation and resources tailored to our unique needs, people with textured hair find themselves navigating uncharted territory alone. The weight of responsibility to find hairstyles that not only celebrate my daughter's natural hair but also safeguard the proper functioning of her essential medical devices fell heavily on my shoulders. However, in the same spirit that Black women have overcome obstacles, so did we.

Breaking Barriers: How a Dynamic Mother-Daughter Team Champions Deaf Representation Through Hair

Mothers usually become their daughters’ very first hairstylists, but my job was two-fold as I searched for hairstyles that were right for my daughter while maintaining the integrity of the cochlear implants. Eventually, I found a solution in the creativity of Black hairstyles, enabling Lyric to not only utilize her hearing devices effectively but also embrace her identity with pride. Upon sharing our journey online, our story struck a chord within the community, quickly spreading across TikTok and Instagram.

What began as a personal mission soon evolved into a viral movement, uniting families worldwide to celebrate diversity and empowerment.

Hairstyles for Kids with Cochlear Implants

Styling Lyric’s hair took much trial and error before we found the children’s hairstyles that work best with cochlear implants and coily hair. The issue with curls is that they don’t lay flat in their natural state. We needed to find creative ways to manipulate and maneuver the hair so the implants could connect properly. Strategically placed protective styles adorned with beads and other embellishments have been our saving grace. I was a braider at a hair salon previously, and I'm so glad that experience has allowed me to connect with my daughter in this way.

Half-up, half-down hairstyles are our go-to looks. Depending on your time (and skill!), you can opt to keep it simple and straightforward or add colored synthetic hair to buns, braids, or ponytails to make it unique. I recommend using Mizani Artful Edges for parting and molding the hair while braiding.

Moms with advanced braiding experience can opt for more intricate styles like these heart-shaped braids, paired beautifully with two-strand twists, perfect for those seeking a stylish challenge. This is our most viral hairstyle and my tip for getting the twists neat, but not stiff, is to use a curl cream like the Mizani True Textures Coil Stretch Cream.

Another standout style Lyric loves is a flower-shaped braid, perfectly complimented by floral cochlear implant skins—decorative stickers applied directly to the audio processor. (These come in a variety of designs and colors, sometimes offering minor scratch and wear protection.) The coordinating style and skin add a touch of flair and individuality to her look, showcasing her cochlear implants in a playful way rather than disguising them.

Cochlear Implants, Black Hair, and Our Advocacy

Black women and children often face unique challenges when it comes to our hair. I am immensely grateful to have become a part of the solution to the challenge of accessible hairstyles for Black cochlear implant users. Witnessing the positive impact it has had on her confidence and identity fills me with joy.

This journey has ignited a passion within me to make a difference not only for Lyric but for all children facing similar obstacles. I am determined to advocate for inclusivity and representation in healthcare, ensuring that every child, regardless of their background or abilities, can embrace their uniqueness with pride and confidence.

Tyanna is a millennial wife and mom who survives on coffee, cute clothes, and creativity. You can catch her on Instagram and TikTok, sharing her love for learning a new language (ASL) with her family and her latest latte craving.

Next Up: From Perms to Pride: Navigating The Evolution of the Natural Hair Movement

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