Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Rockin' Right Along
Last Thursday was a very busy day. We started it off with a trip to Hopkins for an audiology appointment. I am glad to announce that it is our last audiology appointment for three months! YIPPEE!
My baby rocked it out in the soundbooth! When they played the first tone though, Aiden looked right over at the rabbit, which I have to admit is a bit "Chucky doll" like, and started to scream. (FYI about the soundbooth - tones are played at different frequencies and when Aiden responds to a sound, they reward him with showing him that scary rabbit in a box playing an instrument. I keep him distracted by showing him pictures in a book or playing with some toy so he's not just watching and waiting to see the rabbit). We thought he'd shut down after that and I'd have to reschedule, but he manned up and we finished the soundbooth WITHOUT showing that scary rabbit anymore!
Aiden's left ear has not only caught up with the right, but surpassed it by 5dB! So Aiden is hearing at 15 to 20dB across all frequencies and his speech awareness threshold is at 10dB - in both ears!!!!
Yep ... 10dB! This is the same baby who had NO RESPONSE on his ABR at 120dB! This is the same baby who couldn't hear a jet airplane (without his CIs), if he was sitting right next to it. This is the same baby who I worried and fretted (and truly continue to do so) over for the past year wondering if he would truly hear my voice one day.
and now he's hearing my whispers of sweet nothings. my whispers of I love you.
AMAZING. JUST SIMPLY AMAZING.
After the soundbooth I talked to our audiologist about my concerns with Aiden's expressive spoken language. He will imitate the /ah/ and /m/ sounds, is starting to babble a little bit more (ba-ba's, na-na's, a-ba's, "mar" for more) but still not as much as we thought he would by now. She explained how important the receptive (listening & comprehending spoken language) part of learning to speak is; that with everything we "feed" into Aiden's little brain, it is more important right now that he is comprehending what we say instead of him just constantly repeating what we say. The better the receptive base, the better the expressive spoken language. She also reminded me that hearing babies hear and take things in for a good 9 to 12 months before their first words ... and Aiden's only three months hearing.
She continued, "For example, we know Aiden understands when you say "airplane" because he'll sign airplane", and as soon as she said it, Aiden looked at her, smiled, and signed airplane and belted out a good "aaaahhh" (without her signing it). We just laughed and clapped! One example of how we know Aiden is not only hearing us, but comprehending what we are saying to him.
After our Hopkin's appointment, Aiden and I headed down to the Baltimore Harbor to have lunch with a family from Texas. I "met" the mom through the Yahoo group CICircle. They were in town to have their youngest son's second CI reimplanted by the same surgeon who performed Aiden's. This was going to be the little boy's third surgery on this ear and they had almost given up hope until finding Hopkins. This mom and I talked via email for a few weeks before their trip. Being from Texas, I was so excited to meet up with them. The one thing I did not know, until the night before, was that this little boy's mom and dad were both Deaf as well (I found this out as she called me through relay). All this time I have been communicating with hearing moms of deaf children ... I guess I hadn't really even thought of what I'm missing out on, until now anyway.
As I was very excited to meet them, I was nervous at the fact that 1) my signing abilities are next to none - except for the handful of baby signs we use with Aiden (well I can fingerspell, but that doesn't make for the easiest of conversations); and 2) I couldn't believe I had just then realized the very few contacts I have with Deaf parents with D/deaf children. I have to admit that I was relieved when my Texas friend communicated orally and was a great lip reader. She helped me through conversations and signing with her husband AND made me realize I needed to learn a lot more signs.
What an experience it all was. Absolutely wonderful. Both mom and dad are part of the Deaf community and I was intrigued by their life story and the decision they made to get their two youngest boys bilaterally implanted (their oldest child is hearing) although neither mom nor dad have any type of aided hearing (mom is possibly considering a CI herself but wants to take care of her kids first). It tore my heart apart for her that she didn't have a lot of support from friends and family within the Deaf community who were anti-implants. She has been through a lot, but fully believes in what she wants for her boys and keeps trucking along. I admire her for her strength and perseverance.
We are going to meet again this summer when they fly back up for activation. I can't wait! I found my visit with them to be heart warming, a tiny glimpse into Aiden's world, as well as into the Deaf community ... I can't help but imagine everyday what it would be like for him without CIs or truly, what it's like to be Deaf. It's nice to meet and befriend people who are there. Thanks for an enlightening time!