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Technology check, sound check, wear time
When Oli was initially diagnosed, I remember Frikkie, our audiologist mentioning something about technology being amazing nowadays. In those moments, I genuinely had no idea what he was talking about. I knew what a cochlear implant was but didn’t know when they were used, in the sense of what kind of diagnosis would warrant them. In fact, in my ignorance, I just thought, his loss is profound, that means he can’t hear, he’s deaf.
After countless hours of research online, contacting audiologists worldwide and talking to many parents who have been through a similar journey, I understood what Frikkie meant. There is amazing technology that can give Oli access to sound. There was a lot of advice given from parents who had been through this part of the journey, explaining their everyday life and how that had changed. Remembering to charge batteries, check and change mic covers and sound checks was the very mechanical aspect of it. Keeping the devices on him, making sure they are working properly and giving the brain access to a language rich environment was where our work began.
We were really lucky that Oli has liked his implants from an early age. We did also start slowly with wear time and worked our way up to all waking hours or the idea of “eyes open, ears on”. I think getting aided with hearing aids at such a young age had something to do with it. He didn’t really know anything else.
In the beginning our sound checks meant just making sure he could detect the sounds, which was easy to practice. Then came making sure to provide a language rich environment. This was truly the hard work, you are pretty sick of your own voice by the end of the day. Narrating everything you do, gets exhausting but today we can see how it has truly benefited Oli.
On the Hearing First website, they have a lovely article that lined up with exactly what we were told by both our audiologist and speech therapist in those early days.
– To make sure Oli’s hearing aids or cochlear implants were working properly.
– To be aware of Oli’s daily listening checks and keep track if any of the sounds were difficult for him or that he didn’t even detect.
– Lastly, to work towards him wearing his cochlear implants for at least 10 hours a day.
Today, we manage all these pretty easily as it has become part of our everyday life. As a result, once Oli goes to bed, it often means Daniel and I don’t talk much. This isn’t every night. I suppose you can say when his ears come off at night my voice and my ears also get to rest a bit. And now that he talks so much, it seems his voice and ears, or rather his brain, get to rest too.