Today was Fiona’s first auditory speech therapy session at the Auditory Verbal Center of Atlanta, the same great center I posted about last month. Now that Fiona has her hearing aids, the plan is to visit the AVC every 2 weeks to help train her to make sense of limited sound, and to train mom and dad on how to grow her skills between sessions.
Since Fiona is just 3 months old, and her hearing aids are of limited benefit, the goal initially is basic “sound awareness”. Training Fiona to respond to limited sounds, and to acclimate her to the therapy routine. After she gets her Cochlear Implants (6-9 months away), the therapy will intensify to a weekly regiment focusing on improved speech recognition and language development, with the ultimate goal of complete integration with hearing children by preschool! Kick ass.
The AVC will be a regular fixture of our lives for the next 3-4 years, so today’s session was primarily informational meet and greet. As we entered the lobby, I chuckled at the “chocolate ears” available for sale. They looked pretty yummy I must say, but in any other context I’m not so sure…
We met our therapist Jennifer, but found out later she will be leaving the center soon, so we’ll be settling in on a new therapist next time. After 40 minutes of extensive Q&A (“does fiona make cooing sounds”, “does she recognize laughing sounds”, “does she mimic your facial impressions”, etc.), we got down to the fun part.
We turned on Fiona’s hearing aids, then Jennifer then took out a series of toys to “clang” behind Fiona’s head, looking for responses.
In this picture you can see her pounding what looked like a pool paddle with a plastic mallet:
The good news is that Jennifer detected slight responses to some of the sounds.
I still have trouble myself differentiating an actual response from random “baby faces”, so I asked for tips on how to differentiate. Jennifer recommended focusing on the eyes (look for sharp movement of the pupils), the eyebrows (furrowing), and abrupt movement of the head. Still, at 3 months old there’s no foolproof way, so you need to keep with it.
She then brought out other toys to try different sounds, including the legendary cowbell! While I (barely) resisted the urge to make “More Cowbell!” jokes, we watched for some time, but did not see much of a reaction. Its possible Fiona was getting tired, though.
So we left the center with homework to get some noise making toys and practice testing her awareness of sound. We must be the only parents in America who are actually SEEKING OUT noisy toys for our child. Should be a fun trip to Toys R Us – I see lots of toy drums and cowbells in our future!
And on that note, I leave you with…More Cowbell!