Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants

As I mentioned in the previous post, we met with an Audiologist last week to get impressions taken for Hattie's hearing aids.  She did a great job and slept through the whole appointment!  She will get her actual hearing aids next week.  We are looking forward to this appointment to begin her time in her hearing aids.

We have decided that we would like Hattie to be in the hearing world.  There are different opinions on what is best for a child (listening/verbal route or sign language).  I have learned, in the short time that we have been immersed in this new world, that you have to make the decision that is best for your family.  Because we do not have anyone else in our family who is deaf we want Hattie to benefit from hearing and speaking like all of us.

We are blessed to be living in a world where technology is ever changing and improving.  An option that we have for Hattie is the placement of cochlear implants. This is an internal and external device that she would wear that will actually allow her to hear and speak.  Before we get that, however, we will do a trial run with hearing aids to determine if there is, in fact, any hearing with them.

Hattie has profound hearing loss, which means that she has virtually no hearing at all.  Because of this we do not expect that she will have sufficient hearing with her aids.  However, we will still have her wear them every waking hour to stimulate any functioning part of her auditory nerve.  If appropriate, at about 6 months of age she will get a CT scan to ensure that the anatomy of her inner ear developed properly so the cochlear implant can be placed.

The FDA has approved implantation at the age of 12 months.  Right now doctors are trying to show the benefits of implanting a child earlier to help with speech and language development.  It depends on the ENT physician, but a lot of children are able to get implanted at 9-10 months old.  Children that are implanted early usually can have normal speech, but require early and intense speech and developmental therapy.  We are very hopeful that this can be the case for Hattie!  Until then we just take one day at a time and enjoy being her parents.

Some people have asked us if you can tell that she is deaf.  Right now, besides not being startled by loud noises, the answer is no.  She babbles and squeals like hearing babies and has been smiling at Mommy and Daddy more and more.  We are told her babbling will most likely stop around 9 months because she won't get "rewarded" by hearing herself.  Because of this, we try to reward her now by being very animated when she talks or smiles so she'll continue to practice.  She is so much fun and our hearts fill with love more each day!

Smiling at Daddy

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