Monday, 10 October 2011

Trains, Planes, Monkeys and Magic Ears!

Spring is upon us and it has been two weeks since Isabel’s switch on and everyday I notice something new with her listening.  When she hears knocking or someone clapping or banging on a table she will search around until she can find the source of the noise and then will look to me with a very proud “I found it’ look.  Which of course then leads me to clap excitedly and tell her what a great listener she is.  This look has changed in just a week from being an 'is it ok Mummy?' look to one of confidence and genuine interest.  Progress!!

Isabel's first Spring!

We have noticed that there are some sounds that Isabel will respond to right away and others that we need to repeat a few times before she looks around.  She is currently responding right away to ‘Eee” (as in the Monkey says “Eee, Eee, Eee”) and ‘Shhh’ (as in ‘Shhh the baby is sleeping, shhhh’).  These sounds form 2 of the 7 Ling sounds, which for those who don’t know, are seven sounds spread across the speech frequency range of hearing, from ‘mmm’ at 250Hz to “sss’ at around 4000Hz.

The 7 Ling sounds are ‘mm’, ‘oo’, ‘or’, ‘ar’, ee’, sh’ & ‘ss’.  Each of the sounds are linked with an object to help attach meaning and identification.  Most are pretty obvious, like the snake says ‘ssss’ and ‘mmm….the ice-cream is yummy…mmm.’

Really starting to look around when she hears things!!

At the Shepherd Centre we are currently learning songs associated with these sounds….aside from all the normal nursery rhymes that I have sung to Isabel since she was born (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Incy Wincy Spider, Galoomp went the little Green Frog etc) these are two new songs that are part of our daily routine now.  The first is ‘The Aeroplane Song’ (Aah, aaah aaah, aahh, Aeroplane flying high; Aaah aaah aaah, way up in the sky) and then “The Train Song” (I’m a train on a track, I’m a train on a track, And I’ll go and go and go and go and STOP; I’m a train on a track, I’m a train on a track and I’ll go and go and go and go and STOP; And I’ll gooooo….And I’ll goooo, And I’ll go and go and go and go and STOP! Oooo Ooooooo!).  So you see there is a lot of repetition, which is crucial in learning for any child, but even more so for a child with Cochlear Implants. 

The headbands I have made to help keep Isabel's processors on.  She still definitely pulls them off and puts them in her mouth all the time, but at least this way they don't just fall off themselves!

I recently heard from a professor, who had just written a report on the importance of early intervention for children with severe hearing loss and he gave the statistic that it takes a child with ‘normal’ hearing around 300 repetitions for them to learn a new word….for a child with a Cochlear Implant it is around 900 times!  So you can understand why with all of these new songs there is A LOT of repetition!!

I went shopping with my mum today and it was the first time that Issy was out of her pram and in her Baby Bjorn carrier without a pilot cap or hat on.  It was her public debut with her processors in full view I guess. The lights on her processors were flashing away and she smiled at every passer by.  It was really interesting to see the different reactions of people.  Some didn’t notice, others stared at Izzy and then gave me a look as if to say “Oh I’m so sorry”….this mostly came from other mothers.  Then there were those who stared, but tried not to, but kept looking and then turning away and then when I passed by would whisper and then properly turn around and gawk.

I had actually thought about what I might feel when people stared, whispered or asked questions about what was on my baby’s head….I was so worried that I would get upset or become really over-protective and angry….but when it actually happened today I didn’t feel any of those things.  I can honestly say I felt really proud.  Isabel has been through so much and she is still one of the happiest, most smiley, social babies I have ever known.  She laughs out loud all the time and will stare someone down until they look at her and then gives them the biggest grin….making even the crankiest person smile back.  She is not worried at all….in fact she loves when people look at her as it gives her the chance to try and win them over….which she does….every time!

Such a happy little girl!

I had a conversation with a friend’s three year old over the weekend.  It went like this…
”What are those on Issy’s head…..”They are her magic ears”….”But why does she get to have them?”….”Because inside her ears were broken so we had to get her some magic ears so she can hear us talking to her”….”And what are those cuts?”…..”They are where the doctor put the magic ears in Issy’s head”.  “Wow!….why does the light flash on the magic ears?”….”So that we know they are turned on and that Izzy can hear us”….”Well, we better make sure they are always flashing then!”.

Adorable!  I wish every conversation I had were as easy as this.  Children are so wonderfully accepting!