Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sweet Miss Natalie - 11 Months

Yep... Natalie is 3 weeks away from not being our little baby anymore! (sniff sniff) When we decided on cochlear implants, I was really hoping and praying that she would get them before she turned 1 so that she could hear us sing happy birthday to her. We are all excited for that

Tuesday I head up to Chapel Hill for another audiology appointment. We could have chosen to have Natalie treated here in Charlotte, but they are so much more experience up in Chapel Hill and they have their own cochlear implant audiologists. The last visit was 3 weeks ago which went by way to fast. It is just such a long day. The visits will eventually get farther apart so that will get better. This will be her first booth testing appointment since she was activated, so we will get to see her first real audiogram with her officially hearing.

Below is an example of what an audiogram is.  From left to right is pitches (or frequencies) and the other column is decibels. Getting a real good audiogram will enable us to map her properly (A mapping is a reprogramming of the cochlear implant, to readjust the electrical stimulation limits of the electrodes as each user’s brain adapts to sound and fibrous tissue grows over the internal implant.) 

Normal hearing is between 0-25 db. You can see on the chart a picture of a greyed area called the speech banana. You have to be able to hear above the speech banana to develop normal speech and language. Some kids can achieve that just fine by wearing hearing aids. Natalie was too profound which is why she has CI's. We tested her several times and she couldn't even hear 120 db of sound! 

So, Tuesday will be a good day to see where she is at on the audiogram. Very exciting! She will have booth testing each visit from here on out. 

And some more pics of this cutie:

It is fun to listen to all the sounds outdoors.. including the sound of the buggy!

um... still cute with just 2 teeth

Nat with Miss Jenni (her audiotry-verbal therapy teacher)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Auditory Verbal Therapy

When Natalie was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at 6 weeks, we were immediately introduced with a group called, NC Early Intervention Program For Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. We were assigned a parent-infant educator who comes out to our house weekly for 1 hour sessions doing auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) for Natalie.

Many people asked us at the beginning if we were learning sign language and the answer was simply no. We want Natalie to learn to listen. We don't want her to rely on lip reading, signing or cued speech. We want to force her ears to work with her cochlear implants. (later on down the road we/she may like to learn sign language as another form as well.)
pointing to her airplane

As of January 24th, her hearing age was 0 (like a newborn) so we are coming up on 1 month of hearing! We are seeing great progress already. One of the first learning to listen sounds we work on is the airplane  "ah-ah" sound. We have been doing this since she was a baby, and although she probably never heard anything even with her hearing aids on, she was able to make that sound just as a normal baby sound. (she is definitely saying it a lot more now.)

I took this video with just my digital camera so it is kind of grainy. Hoping to get a new video camera soon.

With the AVT we really try and get the "ah-ah" sound in a lot. Whether we sing it, say it as we are feeding her, etc. Trying to find ways to sneak it in. The other kids even know it and will get the toy airplanes out and practice with her. Well, it has paid off. She is really understanding so well. We can now say the first part "ah" ---- and she will finish it off with the other "ah." It has been so wonderful and exciting to watch her progress.


We have many, many learning to listen sounds. This week our goal is working with a top and saying "round and round" in a long sing-songy voice. The goal will be to have her hear what we are doing, and hopefully repeating back to us the same pattern or duration of sound. Other goals are to be able to have various learning to listen toys out (train "choo-choo", airplane "ah-ah", cow "moo", and when we say the sound to see if she grabs the correct toy.  Of course this will come with a lot of practice and age.

and yes, all the learning to listen toys do taste good!

 She really is doing so well and it has been exciting to see the baby steps of learning to listen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cochlear Implant Headbands

Babies and cochlear implants can be sort of tricky. Keeping the ear piece (sound processor) on her ears that is. I had heard about joybands from a friend (you can check them out here) but wasn't sure if that was what we were looking for. 

I googled cochlear implant headbands and came across a woman's blog that is a hearing blog for her daughter. Her daughter wears these headbands and after seeing them I wanted some for Natalie. After getting in contact with her (thanks Melinda!) we were able to find out who she ordered hers from and get ours as well. We have a white one and a pink one. We love them! They fit so nicely on Natalie's head, there is a place for the processor to fit in with the elastic, we can wash them if needed and I have been able to put cute flower clips attached to the headband. Win-Win! So far, Natalie doesn't seem bothered by the headband and has left it alone. 

what a cheeser!
As a side note, we take off her "magic ears" at naps, bedtime, and long car rides where we know she will fall asleep. She is supposed to wear her CI all waking hours and I always feel sad to take them off. I want her to hear as much as possible. 
Name Pancakes compliments of Grammy

Natalie with Big Sister Sophie

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Clap, Clap, Clap!

Natalie is making great progress. She is hearing clapping just 10 days post activation. It was exciting to video the changes she is making. You can notice from the video that although I am on her right side making sound, she turns to her left and follows it all the way around. It will be exciting when she gets her 2nd side activated in a few months.

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