After months of testing and waiting, we finally got Alvy’s hearing aids on the Monday before Christmas. He’s been in them about 10 days now and so far everything is going well. When the audiologist put them in for the first time he responded immediately by squealing and flapping his arms up and down, the universal seven month old version of, “Oh awesome! I like this!”
He wears them most of the day, except for when he’s in the car, sleeping or nursing. For the most part, he leaves them alone and has only tried to eat them a couple of times.
They came with a whole goody bag of stuff, including a small stuffed animal who wears a pair of hearing aids that look exactly like Alvy’s. It has been great for teaching Evie about Alvy’s “hee-eeing aids” (as she calls them) and has reduced her two year old curiosity to a minimum.
For those of you who are new to my blog or missed the original post, we first discovered Alvy’s hearing problem during the newborn screening test at the hospital when he was just a day old. When they first rolled the machine for the newborn screening in I thought it was a formality. My baby was perfect, he didn’t need this silly test.
When the technician told us he failed my heart sank into my stomach, I felt sick.
When Alvy was a month old we went to the audiologist for a click auditory brainstem response (ABR). After the test was over the audiologist came into the testing room with a big stack of papers and a folder, that’s when we knew for sure.
She explained the extent of the loss and then further explained that since he wouldn’t be still while the test was in progress, it would need to be repeated for us to get a clear picture of exactly what his hearing loss looked like.
When he was five months old we took him to the hospital for a second ABR, this time performed under sedation. That day we had an official diagnosis of mild sensorineural hearing loss, a type of loss similar to the deterioration adults with normal hearing will experience over the course of their lifetime. Hearing aids were our future.
I want to explain to everyone what Alvy’s hearing loss really is. He can hear most things except high frequency sounds which he only hears at a whisper – this translates to English language sounds like S, F, TH and means that without hearing aids his speech will not develop normally.
Unlike conductive hearing loss which can be corrected, sensorineural hearing loss will never get better. For now, the loss is mild but that doesn’t mean it can’t and won’t get worse in the future as his hearing naturally deteriorates.
Like glasses for people who have trouble seeing, the hearing aids are adjusted to amplify only those specific frequencies that he needs help with so as his hearing changes the aids will need to be adjusted. This means we will be visiting the audiologist about every six months for retesting and every couple of months to have his ear molds refitted as he grows.
As far as our future goes, we really don’t know. He may need speech therapy but that will all depend on how well he responds to the hearing aids. We caught it early but getting the aids took longer than the audiologist would have liked due to circumstances beyond our control (go ahead and ask me how I feel about the chloral hydrate shortage, I dare you).
Alvy’s hearing and education will be a big part of our lives from here on out. We’ve already been introduced to Texas Hands and Voices (a non-profit group dedicated to helping families of kids with hearing problems) who conveniently have a playgroup every month for deaf and hard of hearing kids at a park just down the street from our house. Though he’s too young to play now, it will be good for our whole family to meet people who face similar challenges. Jason and I have also agreed that learning ASL will be extremely helpful as Alvy grows and we are introduced into the deaf and hard of hearing community.
How do I feel about all this? At first I was in a bit of denial but I’ve had several months to process it and to free myself from any guilt I had surrounding it. He has a mild disability and you know what? That’s okay. It is just one of the many things that make this little boy unique. It may not be exactly what we were expecting when we decided to have a second child but kids are great like that – constantly keeping you on your toes.
His hearing aids will make him different than all the “other kids” and that is something he will have to learn to manage. He has already shown us how strong he is and this minor disability will only make him stronger as he grows. I am so proud to be his mom and am excited to watch him grow and become his own person, hearing aids and all.