Friday, December 9, 2011

Hearing Test Results!!

Yes, I know I am running behind on the blogging already!  But on Monday, Eric had a booth hearing test. 

The tests go like this:

Brad or I hold Eric on our lap with one audiologist in front of him.  The other audiologist is outside the booth with the microphone.  She talks or plays noises and makes the toys inside the booth light up in the direction the sound is coming from.  The audiologist inside watches Eric closely for responses and shows him the flashing toy even if he doesn't seem to hear the noise.  Pretty simple.

Last time Eric was sleepy so we did not get to test him very long.  This time was MUCH better.  Brad held him this time, so I got to watch through the window.  She starts at lower volumes and works her way up.  I'm not 100% sure how low, but it's not low, it's fairly loud.  I want to say they start at 60 dB.  I assume that is because of Eric's level of loss.  We know from his behavior that we would be wasting our time testing at regular everyday noise levels.  He simply doesn't respond to them.

We started with speech.  Moving from 60 dB up to 85 dB.  90 dB is the level at which we could be damaging the hearing of other two people in the room!  After we tested the speech, we moved onto just tones, but at different frequencies.  Sounds are more easily heard at lower frequencies than higer frequencies, so again, we start low and work our way up.  This is where Eric started to get tired so we only got to test at 65 db and 250 Hz. 

And...  Drumroll please...

Eric had definite responses at 85 dB for speech and 65 dB at 250 Hz!!  I know that doesn't exactly help much in real life, BUT it was amazing to see my son HEAR something.  He was so cute, he'd turn his head and wave.  = )  And to know that his ears do function is reassuring as well.  They say almost no one is totally deaf.  That if you could get enough volume, every Deaf person would hear at least a little.  But as a parent, you still wonder.

Our first Deaf event!

Last Saturday, we went to our first event in the Deaf community.  It was sponsored by the Marion Downs Hearing Center, Colorado Hands and Voices, and Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind.  It was a fun holiday party.  There were craft projects, cookie decorating (Kaitlyn had two!), Christmas carols and stories, and Santa visited!

As you can tell, Kaitlyn was not excited about Santa.  We had to pry her off of Brad and I had to go up with her.  The funny thing is,that no more than 30 minutes before this, she saw him outside as we were coming in and she was pretty excited!

It was a nice time, but it was a small event and there were not that many people there.  And all of the ones I spoke with were professionals.  I have emailed a little bit with a "Guide by your Side" through Hands and Voices and she was there, so it was nice to meet her in person.  And there were quite a few children there with cochlear implants.  The first ones I have seen in person.  I know Eric is going to be fine, but it is reassuring to see other children that are older.  Talking (and some signing) and seeming like every other kid in the world.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How the little man has grown

We got Eric's 6th pair of earmolds recently.  Yes, 6 pairs in less than 6 months.  Some have lasted over a month and others have been almost too small the day we received them! 

Whenever they seem too small, we have to take Eric to visit his audiologist (another one of the people we love!) so she can make the ear impressions.  It takes about two weeks for us to get them.  They come in little plastic bags wtih a sticker dating them.  I have kept them all and have written the date range they were worn on each of them. A little silly I guess, because I'm not sure what I'll do with them.  But today I'm showing off comparison pictures!  This is his right mold that was made before he was 2 months old and the current mold that he's wearing now. 

And this is how he looked then and now wearing them!  If you are wondering, the string is just a holder so they don't get lost when they fall off.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hearing Clinic

Yesterday we had a Hearing Clinic appointment at The Children's Hospital and officially found out that Eric is indeed a canidate for Cochlear Implants (CIs).  We have been wanting Eric to get CIs since he was diagnosed with his hearing loss, but we still had the possibility of the doctor saying "I'm sorry, Eric cannot recieve a cochlear implant."  But I was nervous for nothing and our goal is for Eric to recieve bilateral cochlear implants sometime close to his first birthday.

We want Eric to have implants primarily because with his level of hearing loss, he will not learn to speak.  We know that sign language is a wonderful language (that we are already learning as well) but life will have situations where Eric will be disadvantaged by his inability to speak.  What parent wants their child to be disadvantaged in any way?  In this case, there is something we can do about it.  There is a lot of controversy regarding CIs in Deaf culture.  Many people who are against CIs think that parents want to "fix" their child and something is "wrong" with them. I don't think that's true at all.  I don't think any parent feels that way.  We are proud of our of Deaf child!  He will always be Deaf and he will know all about Deaf culture.  If the day comes where Eric decides that he never wants to put his implant on again, we are ok with that.  But we have given him the opportunity to make that decision.

Our entire family will be involved in Eric's implants.  We are not changing Eric.  We are all changing.  We will all learn sign language.  We are all on a journey.


Hello!  We are beginning a blog to easily keep our family and friends as informed as they'd like to be on our family's journey with Eric's hearing loss.  We will share progress reports and also websites if you'd like to read more.  I can't believe how much information we have learned the 6 months since Eric was diagnosed!

This is an overview from the Children's Hospital of Colorado on Hearing Evaluation in children.

And to get everyone up to speed, this is what has happened since Eric was born in April 2011:

Eric did not pass his newborn hearing screens while we were still in the hospital.  We returned for a follow up hearing screen almost two weeks later and Eric did not pass again and we were referred to an Audiologist.  At this point we were nervous, but optimistic that Eric still had fluid in his ears.

We couldn't get into the Audiologist until almost a month later.  In mid-May Eric had his first ABR.  He slept the whole time, just like he was supposed to.  Except that Brad & I could hear very audible sounds coming from the earbuds stuck into Eric's ears.  And he never even flinched.  That's when I started to get worried.  At the end, she sat down and said, "I have difficult news, Eric definitely has a severe to profound hearing loss in both ears."

We scheduled a follow-up ABR for June 1st to verify the results.  This time she manually tested higher decibel levels than the standard test will allow.  Still, no response at 90db across all frequencies.  Step one: Hearing Aids (HAs).

That same day, we met our CO-Hear (Colorado Hearing Resource facilitator) for the first time.  She gave us TONS of information and spoke to us about the Early Intervention programs that are available to us.  Early Intervention is a state program for children with all disablilities to help them and their families.

On June 10th Eric recieved his HAs.  Just one day after he was 2 months old!  They looked big on his tiny head.  In Eric's case all sound must be amplified to at least 90 db and the HA maxes out at 140 db.  The biggest thing I dislike about the HAs is the feedback.  You cannot put anything near Eric's ears or the HA will start squawking LOUDLY.  Annoying when you have a two month old that you carry around.  And a little sad, because he also doesn't seem to notice the noise.

In Mid-July we met with the Family Intervention group.  They came to our house to evaluate any needs Eric may have beyond his hearing loss that Early Intervention could/should address.  That was an easy appointment.  Eric did well, no obvious issues and now we will be assigned a speech therapist.  I know, a speech therapist for a 3 month old baby!

On August 9th we met Michelle, our speech therapist for the first time.  We love her.  Because of Eric's age, Michelle is training us how to stimulate communication with Eric, rather than training him to communicate with us.  Language is one form of communication, but it is not the only one.  Also, we are learing what to look for to tell if the HAs are working.  Michelle meets with Eric every week.  Three times a month at home with Brad and I, and once at daycare so his teachers know what to do as well.

 On October 3rd Eric had his first hearing test in a booth.  It was not the best test.  The earliest a child will usually respond at all is 6 months, and Eric was just a few days shy of that.  And by the time we got in and ready, he was tired.  With his HAs on (aided), we got a possible response at 75 db.  So if that was truly a response, that's really loud in his ears!

On November 1st Eric had an MRI to see if he has the physical components to be eligible for a Cochlear Implant (CI).  They also took blood to test for common genetic causes of deafness.  I was happy they opted to do this while he was already sedated for the MRI.  I didn't really want to be part of them hurting my baby trying to draw his blood!

And that's it up until now!