I haven’t written much about Harry’s speech progress in a while. Looking back on my posts there is a lot about keeping the CI’s on with various accessory adaptations but I seem to have subconsciously steered clear of discussing his hearing progress since the infection.
There is a reason for this.
It was not until the end of October that Harry was given the complete all clear from the hospital and we could say that the intravenous antibiotics had worked to save his left implant. The infection was gone and Mapping showed it had not damaged either implant- you can’t even imagine what a relief this was for us. I guess I was waiting for the thumbs up before I wrote about it.
In the last few weeks we have returned to the Cochlear Implant Clinic for sound level reviews. After Harry’s infection the mapping had returned to pre- infection sound levels and we thought this meant the whole incident had not made an impact on his progress.
But 2 months down the road it dawned upon me in a session at Tarayle that Harry had not made any steps forward with his speech since the first weeks of mapping back in October when he said banana and Alice.
Sometimes the progress when it is not a full word is so subtle it takes a third party to point out to me that he has a new sound or word. Often this is the role of Judy our case worker at Taralye. It wasn’t until I started to discuss with Judy what Harry was doing compared to other kids with a similar hearing age, that it became obvious to me he was no longer mimicking my words in our one-on-one sessions at home.
What prompted me was a play date last month with another Taralye child who had been given her implants one month before Harry and was one month older than him. It was so interesting to see the difference between them. When I pointed to a book she repeated first go ” book” so clearly back to me and was able to do this with quite a few words.
Harry has never repeated words immediately – his process takes much longer and requires a lot of repetition of a word before he tries to speak it. I was inspired that after 10 mnths this little girl was speaking so clearly. But it also made me realise that Harry had stopped even trying to copy my sounds.
My immediate response once I had highlighted this issue was to check with the Cochlear Implant Clinic whether there was an issue with the program or Mapping. They rearranged my next appointment to bring it forward to 2 days later so we could check. They are so efficient to ensure the patients are not left without sound for any length of time.
In my mind I was hoping that there was a technical issue because if all the sound levels were okay then what could be the cause of the change in his speech?
It turns out that he was not picking up high frequency sounds in his left ear- which is the one the infection spread through to the electrode. High frequency sounds are the “softer” speech sounds such as “shh” and s sounds. An explanation for this is possibly some remaining inflammation around the left electrode from the infection- but I felt this was more a guess than a fact, as there is no way for the Audiologists to check for this and so few patients get an infection that travels as far into the implant as Harry’s did.
His left Implant levels were tweaked and he was given 4 programs to work through over a week when we were to return.
It didn’t take long for Harry to move along these new sound levels and throughout the week I was scrutinizing his chatter . It certainly increased post clinic visit but I couldn’t detect any new words or babble- just more frequency chatter which was still a great improvement.
On our return visit the levels evened out on both sides so the left side was detecting high frequency sounds better than a week ago. I am not an Audiologist- although some days i think it would help if I had some training in this field. So my understanding of what goes on once the electrodes stimulate the Auditory Nerve is very basic.
I have been told that once the brain is given the information by the Auditory Nerve that there is sound , there are still a lot of steps to then allow the receiver to be able to create speech . Maybe it is just that Harry’s brain is still creating those pathways after recovering from such a massive infection.
What I do know though, and I always take time to remind myself, is that I have never met a CI recipient who doesn’t learn how to speak well , so it will be just a matter of time.
I know I have some Readers out there who know more than I on how the brain interacts with the information given to it by the CI and are further down the track than us . So I invite you to share your knowledge with us.
After all it is a Blog and what is a Blog without commentary ??