Tuesday, February 26

How To Swim With A Cochlear Implant On

This video gives us hope for those hot, humid days in mid summer. Many times we have sat and wondered "How can Drew swim with a his cochlear implant on?"

At first we figured it couldn't be done. We thought that we'd have to just keep a close eye on him, maybe communicate solely through sign because he wouldn't be able to hear a thing in the pool.

I know Cochlear's Nucleus Freedom Implant is "water resistant", but certainly that doesn't mean it can withstand a furious game of "Marco Polo". We figured swimming would be a difficult task to endure.

Then we came across this video, which has me ready to do a giant cannonball - Greg Lougainis style - right now!

The video states several times to proceed at your own risk (to the equipment), but I think this could definitely work. We will most definitely be shopping for the FoodSaver to protect the implant and some flashy swimming caps, to get Drew ready for some big-league splashing this summer.

Note: Another accidental benefit of having bilateral cochlear implants pops up here. We'll have him wear just one in the pool, and if for some reason it is damaged, we have the other to fall back on until we can mortgage our house to pay for a replacement.

Happy Swimming!

Sunday, February 24

Karen Katz Books

Drew is a big fan of Karen Katz and her lift-the-flap book series. Drew's Dad and I also enjoy reading these books with both of our children.

This Baby's Box of Fun is filled with three of our favorite Karen Katz books, all of which we find very useful for common auditory objectives with infants and toddlers. This would include identifying basic commands, understanding the spaciality of body parts and general literacy principals.

Do you have a child that often will not sit still for an entire story? With the lift-the-flap books you can take the story wherever you child wants it to go. Is he interested in lifting the flaps or simply turning the pages? You can narrate everything your child is doing. With Drew we often find ourselves leaving the story to say, "Drew, you're lifting the page up, up, up. Oh, look, there is the baby's belly button. Now, can you put the page down?" These words have helped Drew to learn the difference between up and down, and have helped him understand basic commands, "lift the flap up" and "put the flap down."

We really enjoy using these books to work on the spatiality of body parts. We know that learning body parts is a cognitive skill Drew should be acquiring at this age (17 months). After reading the story on a particular page, we will cease with the story and ask Drew, "Where are the baby's eyes?" We will give Drew a few moments to respond. If he responds correctly we reward with lots of clapping and a high-five. If he does not respond correctly or at all, we will take his finger and point to the baby's eyes. All of these actions are done while auditorally enforcing what we are doing.

General principals of literacy can be achieved by asking the child to turn the page rather than lift the flap. Children will learn that you turn the page after you have completed reading the story on the current page.

We hope that you will enjoy reading these stories with your child. Please feel free to share other ways you have used Karen Katz books.

Friday, February 22

A Work in Progress

As the readership of Turn on My Ears! increases my email inbox has been expanding. Common questions include: What type of therapy is Drew participating in? How often does Drew attend therapy? What activities are you doing with Drew? How do you find time to be "Mom" and "therapist"? Some of these questions I will answer in future posts, but some questions have made me think of ways I can use the blog to help with therapy, both for Drew and for other children with hearing loss.

I've decided to start a Book of the Week club, to help describe the way we are using books as therapy for Drew. You will notice the addition of this section (and I've added a few of our favorites) on the right side bar. I will discuss different children's books we are working on with Drew and the specific activities we are doing in order to achieve specific results. I will add each book to the "Book of the Week" section with a brief description of how the book is helpful for developing listening and speech for a child with hearing loss. If you click on the book in the side bar, you will be taken to where you can review the book and purchase if you would like to do so.

I hope that this weekly addition, beginning this Sunday, will help generate comments where we can all share additional ideas or ways to use books in order to help our children learn to listen and talk! I hope this will turn into a wonderful forum for us to share therapy ideas through reading. Read with a child. It's the most important 20 minutes of your day.

Thursday, February 21

Do All Babies have CI's?

I was having a conversation with my daughter over dinner the other night that took a funny turn.

"Were you ever a baby like Drew," I asked her, curious of her answer.

"Yes. I was a baby. Now I a big girl," she said. Then she continued the conversation, taking it in a direction I never imagined. "And I wore CI and CI hat like Drew, when I was a baby."

I sat looking at her, thinking about the innocence in her answer and began to smile. She was so sweet and really thought that she used to wear a CI, a hat like Drew and that all babies apparently wear CI's, and then out grow them!

So, we had a conversation about how she never needed a CI because she could always hear with her ears, that Drew's ears did not work and that Drew will have to wear a CI when he is her size and even bigger. I wish everyone had the innocence of a child.

Wednesday, February 20

Upcoming Events

Drew's Dad posted information on the Bilateral Implants: Updates and Controversies Conference that will take place in May in Columbus, Ohio.

In addition, there are several other upcoming events.

Deaf Initiatives is holding one of their "Navigating Your Childs Future" workshops at the Alexander Graham Bell School in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, March 8th. This class will teach innovative techniques to help parents work with their child who is deaf or hard of hearing to develop the literacy skills necessary for their academic and personal success. Participants will learn appropriate activities that can be utilized to support the development of critical reading skills such as phonemic awareness and phonics. Registration is open and only $10. The best thing of all is that child care is provided free of charge!

The 62nd Annual Ohio Speech Language Hearing Association is holding its annual convention from March 6-8 in Columbus, Ohio. Topics include Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Assessment and Treatment, Language and Literacy, Teaching Listening and Spoken Language and Trends in Pediatric Cochlear Implants, just to name a few. If you would like to attend, you can register the day of the convention.

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will be holding its annual convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from June 27th - 30th. Registration is now open. This convention has so much to offer including short courses, exhibitors and product demonstrations.

Sunday, February 17

The Fun Never Ends!

Comments heard in our house recently:

"Can Drew hear everything?"

"Does he understand everything?"

"Can you believe that he heard that?"

"Can you believe he just said that?"

"Did you just see how he noticed the difference between speech and music?"

This list goes on...

It just seems to us like Drew is hearing really, really well and his progress is showing just that. He now understands that there are different kinds of "balls." When we ask him to find the soccer ball, he will. Football? No problem. Basketball? That one isn't hard either, although Drew makes us laugh as he walks around saying, "Eddie," while holding the basketball. Eddie is the name of our dog, who put a big hole in Drew's basketball chewing on it one day.

The list of words Drew uses expressively has grown so long now that it is too hard for me to remember them all. The funniest thing he does is say "no" while he is doing something he knows he is not supposed to. Drew was coloring the other evening while I helped his sister make Valentine's for her class. I heard him saying, "No." I wondered what he was doing, so I turned to look as he was saying "no" again, and putting the crayons in his mouth! He is quite a little character.

Drew is constantly mimicking our language. He has even added the /s/ sound. He was mimicking me as I went through all of the ling sounds while we were driving in the car yesterday. I was surprised that he repeated /s/. I loved watching him work out the sound. He listened to me say it three times, and then softly repeated it. The only ling sound he not said is /sh/.

We're watching him grow. Watching him learn to talk. And we're having a lot of fun!

Wednesday, February 6

Language Assesment

Drew had his bi-weekly therapy with his teacher through the Regional Infant Hearing Program yesterday. My Mom took him to the appointment, as she does every time. Drew's teacher is excellent and always sends me a detailed report of the session, and my Mom will always let me know how Drew did and tell me exactly what we will be working on in the coming weeks. The report I received this week was excellent:

Auditory Objectives/Materials Used:
Detect Ling sounds with conditioned response/Hoop and Box of Chips
Discriminate 3 environmental sounds/2 each: Wrist Bells, Drum, Tube
Discriminate Ling and/or LtoL sounds/Ling objects and cards, bus, plane, firetruck and monkey, sheep, cat w/matching bags

Child’s Responses:
1. Detected all twice. Imitated /oo/.
2. Discriminated each one once.
3. Would not attend with Ling objects. Used two items at a time w/bags. He discriminated the bus, firetruck, monkey and cat by looking at the item or the bag. He looked at the cat upon hearing the word rather than the sound.

Language and Speech Objectives/Maerials Used:
Imitate Ling and/or LtoL sounds/Finger Puppets, Ling objects, bus, plane, firetruck, monkey, sheep, cat
Associate words/phrases with actions/Little People: mommy, daddy, baby w/chair, bed, tub, car, swing, spinner

Child’s Responses:
I didn’t use the finger puppets. See below for a list of imitated and spontaneous utterances.
Spontaneously used a lot of phrases with the correct objects (see below). He did put daddy in chair w/ “sit down”, put grandma in swing w/ “swing grandma”, and pushed the swing w/ “push, push”.

Cognitive Objectives/Materials Used:
1. Match object-to-picture/Objects w/matching bags
2. Attend to a book/Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? with doll

Child’s Responses:
1. He cooperated with this and put the objects in but did not demonstrate any clear matching.
2. This was the last thing we did and he was tired and ready to get down.

And probably the most exciting piece of the report...

Spontaneous Utterances:

ahhhhhhh upon seeing the airplane
owl upon seeing the owl (new)
thank you when I gave him things
roun-n-roun upon seeing the spinner
eeeeeee when playing w/slide
hi when Grandma walked in room

Imitated Utterances:

sit down
buh, buh w/bus
aa, aa, aa, w/sheep
dat for cat
heyo for hello w/phone
ee, ee w/monkey

Drew is making tremendous progress and we feel like we are on the verge of a huge language explosion! He is using acutal words and putting them with objects. Ball is by far his favorite, but he has also used eat, Dada, PaPa and even Mama appropriately! Last night while playing he correctly made a gallaping noise with his tounge when asked, "What sound does a horse make?" He also has an excellent "quack" now when asked, "What sound does a duck make?" This morning he followed this direction: "Drew, please put the diaper in the diaper champ." I was amazed. I get so excited when he does these things. We enjoyed some nice hi-fives after he accomplished that task. (He loves to give hi-fives!)

I also completed a language assesment for Drew. Drew's Dad and I responded to a series of questions on things Drew can do both expressively and receptively. At sixteen months of age, hearing age of seven months, Drew measured at twelve months of age in both categories. Although, I have to say I peeked at the next level and he is doing many of the things in the 14-16 month category, like attempting to imitate "thank you." I believe that when we next do this assesment, in six months, that he will be very close to being age appropriate for his lanugage development.

I know that there are a lot of parents reading this blog, many of which are parents of children newly diagnosed with hearing loss. Some of you have even introduced yourself! I have had a lot of questions regarding early implantation, insurance coverage, simultaneous implants, etc. I really feel that Drew is doing so well because his deafness was caused by Connexin 26 and because he was identified early, implanted early and implanted simultaneously. If you feel like hearing aids are not providing your baby with enough amplification and feel a cochlear implant is in his or her future, be persistent! While having simultaneous implants in all children is not possible (given the geneology of the loss, malformation in the cochlea, known balance disorders), implantation under 12 months of age is possible and the results are amazing. I am so thankful that we put together a team for Drew that believed in getting him implanted as young as possible. The results are truly amazing.

Saturday, February 2

Why Cochlear?

Drew's Dad and I have been playing around with Blogger and were experimenting with the survey feature, hence the "Which brand of C.I. Did you Choose?" question on the sidebar. It's a little coincidental since Amy recently left a comment asking why we chose Cochlear as the brand of implant for Drew. She is trying to decide which brand to choose for her daughters upcoming surgery, so I thought I would share "Why Cochlear?"

  • Cochlear is the brand that our surgeon and audiologist have worked with the most. Therefore, the surgeon has inserted the most Cochlear arrays and our audiologist has the most programming experience with the Cochlear brand. We took this in high regard. We did not feel that it would be good to choose a brand of implant that they were unfamiliar with. We know that our implant team has a lot of relationships with Cochlear, as has been evidenced in the audiologist from Cochlear attending Drew's mapping sessions, on occasion.

  • Cochlear is the brand of choice of Dr. Jacques Herzog and all other surgerons we met with. We hold Dr. Herzog's opinion in high regard, and that weighed on our decision.

  • We liked the bodyworn processor and were aware of the impending babyworn launch. We thought that having the microphones on Drew's ears was vital for developing sound localization, so we were very impressed with the Snugfit for chilren, to help keep the processors on their ears. We liked the rechargable battery option for both configurations (I do not know about the battery options for Med-El or Advanced Bionics).

  • We like Cochlear's Customer Service and their commitment to future techonology. When we discovered that Cochlear has a commitment that all current recepients of their product can take advantage of new product introductions we were thrilled. Knowing that processor and software upgrades will be available for their current paitents is wonderful. In fact, we are awaiting the current software upgrade that will program the internal device such that we never put a processor on the wrong ear again. Yeah, no more tears!

Ultimatly the equipment and customer service can only do so much. If you do not have appropriate mapping or therapy post implantation, the recepient is not going to excel with his/her implant.

So the question is, readers, which brand of implant did you choose (for yourself or your child), and why? Let's help Amy out with this difficult decision.

Friday, February 1


With a capital F, U and N! We are having so much FUN watching Drew's language develop, both receptively and expressively.

I was getting ready for work on Wednesday morning and stopped by the kitchen table to say goodbye to Drew, his dad and sister while they were eating breakfast together. I noticed that Drew did not have any milk to drink with his pancakes. I said, "Drew, would you like a cup of milk?" He instantly started vocalizing with his "I want something" whine while reaching for his sister's cup of milk. Drew's Dad and I know he understands that concept!

In addition, the number of words that he is using is growing. He is constantly repeating things we say and is actually starting to use the words in everyday play. Today he said, "ball" and then looked at Daddy and said, "Da da." The other night I was talking about needing to eat something and Drew started saying, "Eat." Ball, Pa Pa, Da Da, I don't and no are all words he now uses regularly, in addition to "uh oh," which he has said for months. He will also say "ahhh" anytime he picks up his play airplanes and "ooo" for the choo-choo sound of a train. The most exciting times are when we are not directly talking to him and he picks up what we are saying. Incidental learning is so important for language development, and we think Drew is doing very well in that area!

We're still working on the /sh/ and /s/ sounds, and those are taking a while longer to come about. Although he is making progress, saying the /s/ sound the other night as we played with a toy snake, we still have work to do in that area.

Each day with Drew is so exciting, as we get to share with him our language. I get chills at least once a day when he turns to look at me after I call his name. I love listening to him babble. And I love the new words each day brings. Now if we could work on Ma Ma...why is that the last word babies say?