Thursday, November 12, 2009

Within Normal Limits!

Remember to leave your comment here to be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Nelle & Lizzy! I will be closing the contest sometime after school tomorrow and announcing the winner over the weekend!


Today? Today was one of those rare days. One of those days that don't seem to come around as often as I would like.

It was a good day. A really good day. And all because of him.


It started out like any other day. We dropped the kids off at school and then headed over to the therapy center to do speech and physical therapy. When we got there, Seth's speech therapist mentioned it was time to do a speech and language evaluation with Seth today. The last time we evaluated him officially was six months ago, and we did an unofficial evaluation right around his birthday.

I was nervous. I may have mentioned that Seth has been obsessed with cruising, crawling, and climbing, and not so interested in listening and imitating and learning new words. It's a normal phase, but it has been really, really frustrating. I was feeling lots of pressure because I was worried that I hadn't been working hard enough with him at home, and that he would have lost ground since his last evaluation.

Oh, and now would probably be a good time to mention that this month marked Seth's hearing half birthday! He has officially been activated and listening for six months now. I can't believe it's already been 7 months since his surgery. (He spent one month after surgery healing up before he had his initial stimulation).

This might be a good time to remind you all of that day, May 5th, 2009, when Seth heard with his CI's for the first time:

Is that not the coolest thing you've ever seen? I mean, I might be biased, but the way that baby boy turned and smiled at me is something I will never, ever forget. This is a baby I thought would never be able to hear my voice. 

So we went through the evaluation, which took the entire session. At the end, she sat, totaling up all the values and then looked up at me, smiling.

Then she told me that for expressive and receptive language, Seth is completely age appropriate. No delays! Not only that...he hit a home run on the listening evaluation and scored 14 points above the level he needed to be age appropriate, which put him roughly around the 24 month level.

Yeah, my jaw was on the floor. Even with the rut we've been in, he still managed to stay age appropriate in all areas and excel in others! What a rockstar!

Then, we headed into physical therapy, where there were several therapy students interning along with our normal therapist. Our therapist spent pretty much the entire thirty minutes detailing how bad off Seth was when he came in for therapy and all the strides he's made. She talked about his hypotonia, and his terrible core strength, and how he could barely lift his head when he came to her.

Then she said that since his first birthday he has done nothing but amaze her, that many times she notices a difference in him from one day to the very next, and that the muscles in his feet and ankles are so much better than they were last month that she's rethinking her decision to put him in orthotics! She says she thinks he's compensating on his own and that while he's still borderline, if he keeps progressing like he is right now, they won't be necessary. We have been about to order his orthotics every single week for probably two months now, and it keeps getting pushed back for administrative and insurance issues, and it turns out he might not even need them! She was also raving about how stable he is now and how far he has come with his sensory disorder...he was literally sitting and playing in the rice box, and for those of you with sensory kids, you probably know how crazy that is.

I could not be more proud of all the hard work he has put in.

After that, we headed to the audiology department at our children's hospital for his mapping (cochlear implant programming). Seth hasn't been in the booth for four or five months, and we decided to put him in today and see just how well he hears.

And, well, knock me over with a feather.

Let me show you a picture.


That's an audiogram. On the left, you'll see the level of sound, and across the top, the frequency (low to high from left to right). On the outer right side you'll see the levels of hearing from normal to profound, and their corresponding decibel levels.

All those letters scattered across it are speech sounds. It's called the speech hear and understand speech you need to be able to hear all those sounds. If you picture the audiogram like an ocean, if you have normal hearing, the water level will be up high, around the 10-20 decibel mark, and you'll be able to hear everything that falls below that line. Leaves rustling fall at about 5-10 decibels. A baby crying is 60. A dog barking is 70 decibels. An airplaine is 100-110. Wherever your hearing threshold falls, you can hear all the sounds that fall below it (meaning they're louder as you go down the page).

Seth's natural hearing was somewhere between 90-110 decibels. It's marked on the chart by the bubble with the letters NH on the right (Natural Hearing) You can see that according to the chart, without amplification, Seth could hear a jet plane. Of course, having Auditory Neuropathy complicated things and made his hearing fluctuate, but for all intents and purposes, his was a profound hearing loss.

After Seth received his hearing aids, his hearing improved to the level of about 60-70 decibels. That's marked by the bubble marked HA for hearing aid. They gave him access to environmental sounds like the dog barking and loud crying or shouting. On good days, he might have caught the bottom of the speech banana, but as you can see, he was missing a ton of sounds.

Today, Seth tested in the booth. See that bubble with the letters CI? That's where he responded to speech sounds today. 10 decibels. TEN DECIBELS. If you follow that 10 decibel line across to the right, you'll see the bracket it falls under.

Normal hearing.

Normal flipping hearing.

My deaf baby has normal hearing.

I knew it, I knew he could hear remarkably well, but something about hearing that number just makes it hit home for me. My son, who I thought would never hear me tell him I love him, can hear birds chirping. He can hear leaves crunching. He can hear the secrets his brother and sister whisper to him.

Not only that, but he can talk. He has over fifteen words, talks about apples and puppies and going bye bye. He says his sister's name and when he wakes up in the morning he calls out mine.

Just six months ago, Seth was just learning to sit up. He could not roll over. He was hearing well for the first time in his life. He had no words and very limited babbling.

And now, he talks. He climbs. He crawls. He listens. He laughs.

Yeah, today was a good day.
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