"But it's expensive."
"My copay is too much."
"I am having trouble getting off of work for the appointment."
"I don't have enough gas money."
"I am overwhelmed with my other children."
"I have meetings and am just too busy right now."
All of these are sentiments spoken when parents or adults put off their annual cochlear implant and hearing aid evaluations. While I realize not all of you are the parent. Some of you reading this may be the recipient. Some of you may be the parent who has a child with a cochlear implant; some a child with hearing aid. Some of you may be the daughter and your father has hearing aids or cochlear implants.
I'm going to share my daughter's recent evaluation for speech and hearing and encourage you to MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT. If you can't afford it, let me know. If you don't have gas money, let me know. If you are overwhelmed with your other kiddos, ask for help. If you have meetings and are too busy, well that's just silly.
Here's the deal. You cannot afford to miss these appointments. Didn't you fight for your child to have hearing? Didn't you advocate for your parent to get those hearing aids? We are all not yet at the finish line, folks. We've started the race, but we're in the middle. We are pacing ourselves right now. The finish line is something of a dream. We have to accept that we're going to be in the middle of the race for a very long time. Become okay with exercise.
On Friday, we had our visit at Texas Christian University's Miller Speech and Hearing Clinic. Yep, we're in Nashville, but my 11 year old's optimal hearing, speech and academic performance (another blog coming) is of the utmost importance. Our speech pathologist was at Vanderbilt. She decided to pursue her PhD at Vandy and we were the only patient she was allowed to keep. We are so grateful to Vanderbilt for this gift. Dr. Emily Lund is her name and she's a mix of genius and kindness. She looks at Lexi's speech as it relates to LEXI'S intelligence, not just simply reaching general milestones. She wants Lexi to reach HER milestones; milestones set based on how Lexi would perform had she never been born deaf.
So when Dr. Lund accepted a position to lead the Miller Speech and Hearing Clinic at TCU, we followed. Thankfully, there was this incredible Audiologist on staff also, Dr. Tracy Burger. So we fell in love with the program, their students and became kind of a case study for those to follow in Lexi's footsteps. Again, stay tuned to this blog and I'll go further in August on the academics!
The point is this...as much as I'm blown away by Lexi and her hearing. I mean, she's deaf...and she can hear. You, me, we can get wrapped up in that for a lifetime. It's MIRACULOUS. It's BIBLICAL. This is stuff Jesus walked the earth and did... restoring sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. And even now, God is using these amazing surgeons, audiologists and speech pathologists to do His miracles.
Can I get caught up and that and think "we're good. We've reached the finish line!" OF COURSE I CAN! The fight to help someone hear is exhausting. The fight for devices, insurance, paying off the copays, finding all the right resources and the right audiologist. Praying and believing a deaf child can hear...witnessing the first sound. It's all like finishing a race!
But y'all, just like the day your child is born, it's JUST THE BEGINNING.
Lexi's hearing evaluations revealed that she needed tweaks. She had a little too much hearing at the 3000 MHz (megahertz) or FREQUENCY. She could hear at 15 dBs there. So Dr. Burger couldn't really give her more "volume" because she would hear sound of a cotton ball falling at that level. At that point, Dr. Burger adjusted that frequency and then was able to give Lexi a little more access across the board. Here, it goes way above my pay grade. The deal is... she can now HEAR BETTER.
We also learned of the importance of both ears vs. one ear. With both ears, she can hear speech in noise at 96%! With one ear, it went down to 64%! It's difficult to hear with one ear. It's important to check your hearing once a year. It's important to follow up with insurance to find out what your benefits allow in terms of your hearing technology.
-- Every 5 years on average, you can qualify for new cochlear implant processors
-- Each year, you should see your audiologist and speech pathologist
-- Have them test you aided in quiet and "speech in noise"
-- Take all of your equipment, back up processors or hearing aids to your appointment
-- Ask a speech pathologist to give your child a NON-VERBAL IQ test to determine where he/she would be had he/she never been born with hearing loss/deafness
-- Ask that they consult with Dr. Emily Lund on possible academic tests to identify "gaps" areas of need once you know your child's natural intelligence from the non-verbal IQ test
-- Find a local tutor -- preferably someone who is dedicated to excellence in literacy -- and any areas of concern or gaps (likely reading comprehension and language based areas), go ahead and put some tutoring to it.
-- classroom placement in the front and near the FM system
-- the student with hearing loss needs to be able to see the teacher speak during instruction; reading lips provides validation for what the child is hearing
-- PRETEACHING -- I will do a separate blog in August before school. I'm getting it on your radar now. Meet with all their teachers and discuss getting materials, chapters, etc ahead of time for COMPLEX VOCAB SUBJECTS such as Science and Social Studies. These are words they wouldn't already have heard. Kids with hearing aids or cochlear implants are usually taught to think about vocabulary intentionally. So, when a new word is introduced, they may pause and think about it...missing the rest of the information. Simply, briefly introducing these words ahead of time (before they hear it from the teacher) can really minimize that hard thinking.
-- MENTAL FATIGUE AND LISTENING BREAKS - (2) 15-20 minute hearing breaks throughout the day will really help with mental fatigue (more coming on a future blog.)
For a CHECKLIST for teacher/students....