Feb 2018 Times of India
A 10-year-old speech and hearing-impaired boy has turned out to be a master reader, bagging a gold medal at a reading challenge organised by the British Council. Suraj Rao overcame his disability through cochlear implant and speech therapy. The Class 5 student of Bangalore International Kids High is an all-rounder in academics, cricket and swimming. "Suraj has won green belt in taekwando and bagged 30 medals for other activities," said his father Santhosh. Suraj said he read eight books in a span of four weeks during the reading challenge. "I love reading encyclopedias as they have information on everything," he said.
Suprabha Nandakumar, principal, Bangalore International Kids High, said one wouldn't know that Suraj has been fitted with a device. "He has adapted well to his device. He becomes nasal as he speaks and we are familiar with his pronunciation. He has got a fast reading pace," he added.
Suraj's problem was noticed first when he was six months old. One day, a huge vessel slipped from his grandmother's hand, but the infant did not react and the family suspected there could be a hearing problem. Audiometric tests confirmed the child was suffering from hearing loss. When Suraj was seven months old, he was already on pre-operative therapies. He underwent cochlear implant surgery in 2008, when he was one and half years old. "Within 20 days of the device being fitted to his right ear, he started verbal communication. He began with 'Om' and then said 'Appa'.
Those were the most thrilling moments of our life," said his mother Ranjini Vijayashankar. "He was born deaf with no speech and was one of our first cochlear implant recipients. Eight years on, he is excelling in all fields," said Dr Sunil Narayan Dutt, head of cochlear implant programme, Apollo Hospitals, who operated on the boy.