Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hearing Aids

So, Ryan has been wearing his hearing aids for almost a week now, and I figure it's time to update since I'm sure you all are wondering if we are seeing any improvements.  Well, there's good news and bad news.  Bad news first:  they don't really seem to be doing anything.  But, I got that out of the way first because the GOOD news is that it really isn't shocking and it actually makes the choice to move forward with Cochlear Implants even easier!  The audiologist warned us that he probably wouldn't hear anything with them, even though they are turned up to the highest setting.  It means that his ears just don't have the ability to process sound.  So the next question is, will his brain have the ability to process sound?  The Cochlear Implants will basically bypass the ear and bring sound straight to the brain.  This was the whole reason I wanted to see a neurologist before we went down this road, and the fact that she was super optimistic about all of his behaviors while lacking the sense of sound is very encouraging. I told the audiologist how hopeful the neurologist was about the CIs, and she said that's great news.  Of course we won't know for sure what will happen until we actually try them out, but we are very encouraged that he will be a candidate since the hearing aids don't work and his ear anatomy is normal.

I have been reading up a lot of Deaf culture and the Deaf community, and I am very aware that there is a bit of a stigma associated with having a Cochlear Implant.  Some people may question our choice to have Ryan get them, but this is our reasoning.  1) He is a perfect candidate.  If there was anyone telling me that we could go through with this and it might not even help at all, I'd definitely reconsider.  But in doing our research and talking to as many medical professionals as possible, everyone seems to agree that he has a very good chance of hearing with the implants.  2) He is starting out young.  The best success rates for hearing and oral language seem to be with either post lingual adults who lose their hearing later in life after they have already acquired language and children who never had hearing or language and get the implants early on.  Ryan fits into the latter, and that is a huge advantage for him.  So, as long as his overall health permits it, we'll move forward the sooner the better.  But we're definitely keeping his lungs and heart at the forefront of our priorities, so if the doctors don't think he can handle that major of a surgery, we'll wait until he can.

We've also been asked if we are going to teach Ryan sign language, and the answer is yes.  Some institutes that provide therapies for CI recipients I've read will discourage their patients from learning ASL because they want them to focus on the oral speaking.  We are not of this mindset.  We taught Dani baby sign language from early on even though she is hearing because it's just another way to communicate your wants and needs.  We want to encourage Ryan to communicate in any way possible, and I don't think that learning ASL will prevent him from speaking orally.  Of course, there is still a ton of research to be done on our parts, but for now the plan is to finish up the 6 months hearing aid trial, start the road to CIs, and continue to teach and learn ASL along the way.

Thank you so much for your prayers and good thoughts as we continue along this journey!

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