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!