Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FM System on the Way!

I received more wonderful news today! Aiden's audiologist called to tell me we are getting an FM system!!! The one we're getting has the new Dynamic FM platform, which from my understanding after a great seminar I just attended, allows for optimal speech recognition in places with a lot of background noise, yet will automatically mute itself if speech is not present in the FM mic. This saves the FM user from hearing "air noise" and static, yet still allows for the user to hear the world around them. As I sat there in the seminar last Thursday, I was in awe learning about these, not even thinking I'd be told, in less than a week, that Aiden would be getting one!

What is an FM system (aka - auditory trainers)? All in all, they consist of a transmitter (that I would wear) and a receiver (that attaches to the hearing aid or CI). This allows for my voice to be directly transmitted to Aiden's hearing aids. Go here and here to read a quick overview. For more detailed info., search FM systems on the ASHA website to view studies, publications, and abstracts on them. There are also different types. This mom did a great job at explaining the three types. We are getting a personal FM system for Aiden, since it will be used at home or when we're out and about in places with a lot of noise.

Why an FM system? People with normal hearing can usually understand speech when there is background noise. Background noise, to people with a hearing loss, makes trying to hear that much harder. Hearing aids amplify all sounds. And in our household, with Aiden's older brother & sister (who both LOVE their music, have friends who "live" at our house, and are VERY loud in everything they do), background noise is a huge thing. But background noise, at home, is so much more than this too. It can be the washer or dryer running, the dishwasher, the air conditioner kicking on, the humming of any appliance, the water running as someone washes their hands, the tv from upstairs--noises, as a hearing person, I never was too aware of, until Aiden. Background noise is terrible too at places like a grocery store, the mall, anywhere there is a high traffic volume.

What an FM system will do is help drown out these "unwanted" noises and provide optimal listening capabilities, which will then in turn allow for optimal speech recognition. Some of these noises are great, as we do our listening walks throughout the house, but when we're speaking to Aiden they're not. (The FM system will work with his cochlear implants as well. Even though CIs have the capability of drowning out background noise, an FM system works to drown it out even more).

Distance is a major obstacle with hearing loss too. Right now, we are supposed to talk to Aiden within his "hearing bubble", which is six inches from his ear. Sorry, but I cannot have Aiden 6 inches from me at all of his waking hours ... I've tried, it doesn't work! An FM system will transmit whatever I say, from wherever I'm at, directly to his hearing aid and then on to stimulate that auditory part of his brain! So now, while I'm trying to get laundry folded, I can still sing "Wheels on the Bus", with him in the adjoining room, and hearing me. Ugh ... now that I say that out loud, I guess I'll really need to watch what I'm saying when I'm using the FM ... especially when I'm just in one of those moods! : )

How can you get one for at home use for your child?
  • Start, by talking to your audiologist. They should have some ideas of where to start.
  • Talk to Early Childhood Intervention/Parent Infant Advisor. Some states have an ECI program that automatically provides one to families, for home use, that have a child with a hearing loss. This is state by state though. I'd be interested to hear from you if your state does or does not provide this. I think they all should. Texas does not.
  • School districts provide them for the classrooms and some allow you to take them home. From what I've read, a lot of districts do not want you taking them home. Again, why wouldn't we provide our children with the best possible resources at all times of the day?
  • Visit your local Rotary Clubs, Elks Club, Masons Group, Lions Club etc. These clubs fund raise all the time to help children in need. There is a scholarship application you have to fill out (your audiologist should be able to help you fill this out).

We thank our wonderful audiologist for the constant encouragement to get the FM system, the education on the benefits of one (I never realized what they were all about), and for all of her follow up to help this happen! You are wonderful!


Anonymous said...

I am so amazed at your constant learning experiences! You are such an inspiration! God put you here to educate people and although you are not in the classroom anymore, you are such a teacher and I am sure there are people out there that will appreciate all your hard work! I am so happy for all the great news you and Mike have received...God is Great! Your Binky Boy WILL be able to tell you one day that he appreciates everything you have done for him!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

HI Tammy,

Yea! You're getting an FM! I'm sure you'll find it a real boon :0) We have a "home" FM too, and Children's Hospital helped us arrange funding for it through a local charity.

On a side note, I can well understand why the school doesn't want students taking them home... they're expensive! That's not the school being selfish, but prudent. After all, students don't bring home their desks, gym equipment, computers, etc. that the school has to pay for.

Still, I love having one at home. We don't use it constantly, because that would drive Tate NUTS.

Obviously your Audio and YOU know what's good for your kid, but consider that it might be confusing/disorienting for Aiden to hear you talking or singing in his ear when you are in another room.

Like the bathroom. Especially turn it off when you go in there!!!

(I've had some very humorous reports from Tate when he was in public school, about teachers in the bathroom or conversations in the teachers' lounge!)

We tend to use ours more on outings. Family bike rides, for instance, used to be a bit scary as Tate might not hear traffic noises, or me calling instructions to him, with the wind noises and the bike helmet limiting what the HA could pick up.

We also use it in crowds - like going to the Science Center or Zoo. And it's been GREAT for soccer. Tate often doesn't hear the referee talking or whistling, and definitely can't hear the coach calling in instruction over all the parents yelling our fool heads off :0) But then, I have to discipline myself not to micro-coach him!

You'll get it all sorted,


tammy said...

Leah - thank you so much! I just hope I can help others the way so many have helped me! It's always good to give back what you can!

Julie - Thanks for the great tips! Especially the bathroom one ... that's not one from our listening walks haha! I'm sure Tate has heard some great conversations the teacher's were not meaning any student to hear! ; )

leah said...

Tammy, great post on FM systems! We haven't even started to look into them, but now that Nolan's hearing has taken a bit of a dive we notice he has NO functional hearing when there is background noise. Restaurants, playgrounds, and the bowling alley (yep, we took him bowling, lol) are especially problematic! Our state doesn't offer funding through EI for anything (hearing aids, FM systems, etc). We'll either wait until Nolan enters the school district at age three or purchase one for our own use. Those puppies are expensive, though!!!

Loudest Mom said...

We purchased one for home use, but have really struggled with getting it to work. It seems we have lots of interference here on our hill, so while I think it's a fantastic idea, it only works for us sometimes, which is a bummer.

I hope you enjoy yours- they really are an amazing 'add-on'. I used to test the girls by making them go in the other room and do jumping jacks, or repeat funny things back to me. Silly, yes, but highly entertaining-LOL.

elizabeth said...

I definitely want to see you (and Aiden) before you head to Maryland! I am in the clinic pretty much all day Mondays and Wednesdays... do either of those work? Please email me at: elizabeth@deafvillage.com and we'll work something out!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tammy,

Thanks so much for all the kind words over at Ethan's World today. It's so great to "meet" you as well! I agree with your first comment up there, you're doing such a fine job of educating people and you're only a few months into this journey! That's fantastic!

Ethan uses an FM system at school and I think it makes quite a difference for him. His classroom is totally carpeted, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of background sounds running interference. I especially like that this frees him to work harder visually (he's in a TC classroom) and relax the auditory work a little bit. I can't imagine how hard it is for these kiddos, they truly do inspire.

Your children are darling, Aiden is obviously a lucky little boy to have found such a loving and supportive family.

Take care!

Karen Putz said...

Congrats on getting the system!