Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An “E” breakthrough?

We have experienced somewhat of an e breakthrough on the speech front! All of a sudden, Blair started saying me correctly (the speech therapist had us practicing it), and she is now moving the long e into other words. We’re practicing sporadically all day every day (now that I’m off school it’s easy!) and trying to break some habits she’s formed, but she is consistently using short and long e – when she’s encouraged. She used to pretty much eliminate the e sound of words like jacket, blanket, and get, basically putting the sound through her nose so that it was basically unintelligible. Now she is saying it! She’s also saying yes instead of a mouth closed mmm that was her previous yes with ma’am.

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Since Blair wasn’t saying any form of e at all, we are really pleased. This is an answered prayer, and we pray that she continues to improve. Ironically, this speech development occurred the same week I contacted Dr. Berlin in Tampa to schedule a visit for an evaluation. I just felt that her speech progress was not going to be sufficient and that we needed to look at other options. We have to remember that even though her hearing tests say that she’s hearing at normal levels, her having Auditory Neuropathy means that the normal level sounds could be distorted or surrounded by static, making them difficult for her to imitate/create in speech.

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Dr. Berlin’s team has the most experience with AN and can give us a good idea if Blair is going to need a cochlear implant. Even though AN patients’ cochlea function properly, there is something about the cochlear implant’s wrapping around the nerve that eliminates the static characteristic of AN. The downside of the implant for these patients is that many are like Blair and can hear and follow directions quite well. Blair is very consistent in understanding what we say to her. She can distinguish rhyming words like shin and chin, mouse and house, kitten and mitten; she follows directions really well; and she’s learning quite quickly. Since the CI takes away natural hearing in the ear in which it is placed, it is recommended that parents of AN kids who do have hearing (AN ranges from profoundly deaf to no loss of hearing level) to wait for speech to begin to develop in order to assess the amount of distortion (we talk like we hear). Since Blair is behind, there is obviously some distortion going on there, but I don’t think it’s absurd to have hope that she can overcome it. It’s really hard to think about taking away that hearing/understanding and replacing it with an implant that will only work when she’s wearing the external processor. However, if that hearing doesn’t allow her to develop intelligible speech, I don’t guess it’s doing her much good.

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I had basically was telling myself to prepare for an implant (not that an implant is bad… it’s just the taking away her hearing thing that’s so hard!) before this e thing happened. She still may end up being implanted, but we’re thankful to see progress still. I’m still waiting to hear back about an appointment date. Please keep us in your prayers.



Unknown said...

Way to go Little B!!!

Amy said...

i will be praying for y'all and for clear direction on which path to take....
way to go blair!! the "e" sound is a great one :)

Julia said...

What wonderful news! i hope her speech continues to improve and it makes the answers more clear to you and Brad. Love you!

mountain mama said...

yay for blair!!
praying for you all!
merry CHRISTmas!