Monthly Archives: June 2012

A sound start for listening


Week 15 Post Switch On.

We have finished our observation sessions at the Cochlear Implant Clinic now and have our last Mapping Session this week.  Effectively I have now been taught how to teach Harry how to listen. (say that quickly 20 times in a row)

If you read my last post I talked in detail about Harry’s listening and speech development. During my sessions at the CIC we have been looking at his awareness of sound, his understanding of the meaning of words and his ability to discriminate between words and environmental sounds.  Sound awareness is the first step in learning how to listen. A child starts to detect or respond to sounds around him once the implants have been switched on. Initially (being the first 3-4 months) Harry’s brain needs to distinguish between environmental sounds and voices. Environmental sounds such as the doorbell, the microwave ping, the coffee machine, a door knock are all part of his daily life and I am required to point out to him those sounds when they occur and say

“Listen Harry, hear that sound.

  That is a …”  and then repeat the sound if I can a few times so his brain has a chance to interpret and store that info for recollection when he hears the same sound in the future.

There are 6 core sounds referred to as LING 6 SOUNDS which represent different speech sounds from high to low pitch.

With these 6 sounds a child has access to all the speech sounds necessary for learning spoken language


A ( ahh sound) as in aeroplane

M (mmm sound) as in mummy, more

I ( ee sound) as in the  sound of a monkey or ee-or of a donkey

U (ooo sound) as in the  twit-twoo sound of an owl

SH as in Shh the baby is sleeping

The next step is associating meaning to sound. The child will start to associate a sound with its related object and start to recognise familiar phrases.  Sounds are now becoming meaningful to him.

AAA- aeroplane,  Pu-pu-pu-  boat,  Mooo- cow,  Brmm- beep , beep- car,  Baaaa- sheep, 

Cheep, cheep- baby chicken,  Meow- cat,  Woof, woof- dog

To associate meaning to sound it is simply spending as much time as we can , one on one, with no distractions or background noise, repeating the sounds with a toy, a puzzle piece, a book,  whatever we can , to show him that a sound is linked to an object.

At Week 15 we have clocked up the following words that Harry repeats and recognises as linked to an object:

  1. Mumm- mummy
  2. Baa- sheep
  3. Moo- cow
  4. shh- for baby sleeping

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A great celebration

Harry is now One. His hearing age is 12 weeks on Thursday.

What a year. From the thrill of delivering such a beautiful baby boy at 3:06am on 3/06/2011, to being told when he was 7 days old huddled in the airless sound booth at Melbourne University Audiology Dept, that he had no hearing whatsoever, we have all travelled an amazing journey to bring Harry sound and the milestone of his first birthday.

My closest and oldest friend wisely commented when we shared with her our news that Harry had a hearing disability, it was all a master plan. He heard a snippet of Dan’s musical taste whilst in the womb and thought, “A lifetime of listening to the Rolling Stones with Dad, can there be an escape clause.” Thus he was given the gift of modern technology which will allow him to “turn his ears off” whenever he can’t take any more of those geriatric wrinkled rockers.

It is unbelievable what progress he has made with his listening skills and gross motor skills in the last 12 weeks.

It was only a few days after the Switch On that he was able to sit up by himself. From there he has started to shuffle along in a fashion that resembles crawling. Two weeks ago he learnt to get from lying down to sitting up by himself and this week he is working on pulling himself up to standing. And that is just the physical stuff that as a mum I always took for granted that my kids would sit up at 6 months, start crawling by 10 months and then walk by 1. As that is what the books said and that what my girls did. I know now that all the delays were due to the missing 5th Sense. Without the need to turn his torso and rotate his trunk to work out where sounds are coming from, he didn’t develop those muscles in the first 10 months. Once he had access to sound, he was moving those muscles a thousand times a day and is now utilising sound to build his core strength and catch up physically.

We are now about to complete our 12 weeks of listening skills and observation at The Cochlear Implant Clinic in Melbourne. There are 5 stages of listening that every child progresses through in order to comprehend spoken language. Sound awareness, associating meaning to sound, imitation and expansion, auditory comprehension and advanced listening skills. Everyday at breakfast lunch and dinner, I lay a farm puzzle out in front of Harry and we make the sounds of the animals. He is now saying,”Moo” unprompted for the cow and has on several occasions said “arr” for Baa and the sheep. This is imitation and expansion. It also means he has surpassed the stage of associating meaning to sound and it has become a learnt skill he will continue to refine. He calls out “Muummm, mum, mum” when he is upset and tired- unprompted and without any doubt looking for comfort from me.

All these skills are relative to a hearing baby of 6-9 months. So in 12 weeks he is 2/3rds of the way to catching up with his hearing peers. Phenomenal.

On Saturday we had an open house celebration of all our friends and the girl’s friends for Harry. I spent 2 days creating the Australian Women’s Weekly Classic Train cake. From 2pm through to Midnight we had over 150 people come and celebrate Harry’s achievements. Harry took it in his stride and when it all got too much just made it known he was tired , took off his ears and snuggled up in his cot for an undisturbed sleep , whilst chaos reigned outside his bedroom door.

There are many challenges that lay ahead for Harry being Profoundly Deaf, but in this busy world I can certainly see some advantages and I hope he will remain a level headed, smiley soul.

Happy Birthday my darling Harry.



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