September 5th marked one month since his processor had been turned on. I am yet to see a phenomenal change but he is wearing it all waking hours and that is what is important at the moment.
In the first visit to the audiologist post activation, his ability to detect sounds was tested. For this, the audiologist uttered a few sounds covering her mouth (so as to eliminate any visual cues) and checked if Adith could detect the sounds. This was done using the Ling-6 sounds:
These 6 sounds are used in particular because they cover the low, mid and high frequencies in the speech spectrum and gives a good idea about his hearing levels. He could detect and repeat the sounds aa, ee, oo and sh. For ‘mm’, he said , ‘oo’ and he did not give any response for ‘ss’. Our audiologist was impressed that he could detect and identify 4 sounds with just 2 weeks of hearing through the implants and asked us to continue what we have been doing.
In the second visit, the same test was done again. This time he identified the earlier 4 sounds easily and had trouble with ‘mm’ and ‘ss’. After some tweaking of his mapping, he managed to say ‘mm’ correctly and said ‘ff’ for ‘ss’. This means he could detect some sound but could not identify it correctly. Our audiologist assured that ‘s’ is very hard and his brain probably needs more time to learn it.
Additional Speech Therapy
This year, we started something new – speech therapy at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. This was recommended 3 years back when he was initially diagnosed but we had not done this so far. One reason was that in the beginning, he went to DePaul 2 days a week and had home therapy 2 days/week. I thought this was good enough. Moreover, the hospital was 9 miles away and I was not driving. (I was already taking help from a friend to drive me to the school!). Later he was a full time student at DePaul and received speech therapy 3 times/week. By then I started to drive but felt it was hard work to go to the hospital with a baby (Nivedh). Frankly speaking, this is done by most other moms at school with elder/younger siblings so I cannot really complain but I just could not do it. However, this year, I decided to give it a try. It is Fridays at 9 AM and I leave home by 8 AM with both the boys. After one hour of therapy, I drive him to the school and come back home with Nivedh. It is not easy as the morning traffic is awful but I think it is well worth it. He had only 2 classes so far and I was really impressed with the therapist. There is an observation room adjacent to the therapy room – this way, Adith will not be disturbed by Nivedh’s antics and I get to see the therapy as well.
In the first class, the therapist worked on “learning to listen” sounds and also gave me some work sheets to practice at home. In the second class, she played a board game called “Cariboo” which requires him to listen and follow directions. It is very, very difficult to engage Adith and she did it so well! I was quite happy and actually felt that I should have done this last year. Right therapy in the early years is the best bet for language fluency.
Also, last Friday, during speech at the hospital, the SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) evaluated his listening skills with the Ling – 6 sounds and he identified all of them! Even ‘mm’ and ‘ss’! Sometimes, it sounded more like an ‘sh’ but I think that is because that is how he says ‘ss’ at times and not because he was hearing it as an ‘sh’. I was surprised and thrilled to hear this! I guess it is beginning to click! In spontaneous speech, he says “You are not posed to do it” instead of ” You are not supposed to do it” because he just cant hear the ‘s’ most times. Once he can hear it alright, he would be able to say it in the words. And I think ‘s’ is one sound that comes in very frequently in our speech so once he nails it, his speech clarity would improve dramatically. It would also help with the grammar. Right now, he says “Nivedh want to play with it”. This could be his age but I think its more because he is not hearing the ‘s’ when I say “Nivedh wants”.
Thats all for now! Here is one instance of spontaneous speech. You can see that he says “kye” instead of “Skye”, missing out the initial ‘s’: