It was two days before the PSLE listening comprehension exam when CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ Primary student Lynette Tay had a scare.
Her cochlear implant, a surgically implanted electronic device to aid the hearing-impaired, had stopped working, leaving her mother with little option but to rush to the hospital for a replacement.
“We went to get a replacement the next day from the hospital but it also broke down,” said Mrs Tay, 46, Lynette’s mother.
Mrs Tay eventually got the cochlear implant to work, but 12-year-old Lynette shared that she felt “anxious” during the listening comprehension for fear of the implant turning off again.
Born deaf, Lynette had her first cochlear implant surgically fitted into her right ear when she was only about a year old.
Subsequently, she had to undergo intensive training that taught her how to pick up sounds and react to them accordingly.
Although the cochlear implant in her right ear now allows her to hear clearly, Lynette shared with CatholicNews that she still faced complications over the course of her primary school education.
She often had to play catch-up at school as she would sometimes “leave lessons early or skip the entire school day to attend check-ups at the hospital”.
She also “missed school for a full month” in Primary 5 because of surgery to fit a cochlear implant into her left ear.
With little time to revise for exams, Lynette shared how the school staff and classmates rallied around her.
“Sometimes when I cannot pick up what the teacher is saying, my friends are always there to tell me what she said all over again.
“When I was worrying about my cochlear implant going off during the listening comprehension, my classmates would encourage me by saying, ‘It’s okay it’s okay’. They gave a lot of moral support and I’m very grateful for them.”
Lynette also praised school principal, Mrs Tan Wai Lan, for helping her to cope with her condition.
“Mrs Tan was always happy to help and give her permission if any special arrangements were needed for me to sit for my exams,” shared Lynette.
When asked for her advice to other kids who might be going through a similar situation, Lynette said: “Just because you have a special condition, it doesn’t really make you less smart. It depends on how hard you work and how much you want it.
“It also doesn’t make you a lesser human being, it makes you that much more special and different from others.
“You have to work hard and... have hope, hope is important in getting you through trying times.”
Lynette had an impressive PSLE aggregate score of 257.
As for what she aspires to be in the future, Lynette, who aims to to move on to CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ Secondary, flashed a smile and said: “I prefer something language-oriented, but I’m also a one day at a time person.”
By Jared Ng