Mason Henoch enjoys pointing to his eyes, nose and ears and pronounce those parts just like other children who are nearly two years old.
He seems enthralled with the concept of opening doors or gates, delighted by the possibilities that could be behind them. Similarly, his parents, Matt and Wendy, are inspired by the opportunities available to Mason following two cochlear implant procedures in 2012 at the Cleveland Clinic.
Mason said his first word, "up," about three weeks after his implants were activated in September. He recently began daycare, and his parents are impressed by his progress.
"When he first got (the implants), he was a year behind his peers," Matt said. "He's caught up so quickly. Now, he's somewhere between three and six months behind.
"He's closed the gap, and I'm really confident that he's going to keep it up."
Before the procedures, the Shaker Heights family was unsure how to feel. Matt says the family took into account the ongoing debate of whether it's moral to implant the devices into a child's ears. Once the parents made the decision, it was difficult to see Mason under anaesthesia and to deal with the insurance process.
"In order to get insurance approval for cochlears, you have to go through a three-month hearing aid trial," Matt said. "I understand why they want to do that — it was $80,000 that insurance paid for it. They want to make sure they're not paying for it unnecessarily.
"Although we knew why we had to go through it, it was heartbreaking. We knew the hearing aids weren't doing anything."
He described the process as an emotional rollercoaster, but the family now looks forward to the best part of it.
"We just think it's possible that he's going to have a pretty normal childhood," Matt said. "I think that's really our hope for him. I don't see anything now that I would doubt that."