Tom and I were away for two weeks vacationing in sunny Aruba and had a wonderful time. We came back tanned and rested, or so I thought until two days after we returned and I came down with some sort of bug (cold/flu etc.) that kept me in bed for days. Okay, enough whining from me! I know what you really want to know......
Kristina and DJ took Amelia to her second mapping appointment at the House Ear Institute on May 30 and it went very well. Using clever tests and games they were able to get a response from all 12 electrodes this time which is great news. (At the last visit it was only 5.) She also has a new coil on the back of her head and this one is pink. It goes with the pink battery pack behind her ear which is a bit smaller than the old one since it only holds two batteries instead of the previous three. This one fits better and does not put as much strain on her ear. Also her hair is growing in again and will probably soon hide more of the appliances. At the moment it’s a very cute little pixie hair do and most of it stands up on end. It’s all about style, isn’t it?
Amelia appears to be hearing more things all time and is becoming more aware of her surroundings. She’s also much noisier! While before she would often play very quietly and we constantly had to go looking for her, she now makes lots of “baby sounds” while she plays. Sometimes they are soft sounds, but often very loud too. She seems to be experimenting with patterns and noise levels. Just as she used to sign to herself when she looked at her books, she now makes sounds at the same time. We just love hearing her “chatter” like that.
The HOPE speech therapy is still going on twice a week and those dedicated and clever ladies have managed to extend her coverage through the end of the summer. Amelia loves to see them come and is eager to play the games they use to coax sounds out of her. She’s able to produce a fairly good “mmm” now and learning to differentiate between “ooo’s” and “aaa’s” and “eee’s”. She’s not consistent with this yet and she tries to cheat when she has to repeat the same sound too often. She just gets louder and higher as if to say, “There - take that!”.
Amelia does well with patterns of sounds. “Quack, quack, quack” becomes “ah, ah, ah” and “beep, beep” sounds like “eh, eh”. She enjoys it when we sing little songs like Old Mac Donald and the Wheels on the Bus to her, even though we have no idea how much she actually understands. And she has developed a new interest in the toys that produce sounds. She’ll push those buttons over and over until we want to run screaming from the room. The other day I saw her “counting” her ten stacking cups. She touched each one in turn and made a little sound with each touch. Thrilling!
We are all trying very hard to use more words and less sign language in order to force her to focus on hearing, but it’s not easy, just like breaking any other habit. We also want so much for her (and all of us) to continue growing and developing in ASL. We were told to orally “narrate her life” as we go through every day activities. “Time to wash your hands. Wash, wash, wash. Come and sit in your chair. Up you go! Up, up, up. Now take a bite. Would you like an apple? Here’s your apple. It’s a yummy apple. Take another bite. Now drink your milk. Mmmm, milk. Milk is good.” And so on and so on. It’s exhausting, but if it’s best for Amelia, we can do it!