Author Archives: Eliza Isham

Baby Reese!

Hey guys,

Long time no write! I can’t believe it took me 4 months to announce that we had our daughter Reese on March 7th. She’s a beautiful, happy and healthy baby and we love her so much!


Reese passed her newborn hearing screening at the hospital and she also passed her ABR. We wanted to make sure that we tested for all levels of hearing loss (mild, moderate, severe or profound).  And oh boy we could definitely tell she was hearing from week 1! Hearing babies startle at the tiniest noises!

Fiona Update:

Fiona continues to improve her articulation.  We still attend AVC once a week and the Myofunctional Center once a week.  It still seems that she has a mild case of speech apraxia.  For example:

  • Fiona would add a “p” before “t” with words that end with “t”:  mat is mapt, hat is hapt, cat is capt
  • Fiona would add a “d” at the ending of “n” words. bean is bean’d, on is on’d, moon is moon’d

Fiona needs to practice these words over and over to master them. Jenny said that its like learning how to play an instrument for the first time. Fiona needs a lot of practice to perfect these speech issues.

Speech sample:

Here is a video of Fiona doing her favorite thing. Asking mommy 500 questions a day. I love that she is so interested in learning about everything. Any parent can tell you how exhausting it gets to answer question after question but I wouldn’t change it! She will ask questions throughout an ENTIRE movie.

Fiona asking questions

More pictures:

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Merry Christmas!

Hi everyone! I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and give a family update. For those that don’t know yet we are expecting another girl in March.  We are extremely excited and can’t wait for her to arrive. We think that Fiona is excited too but I imagine it will take some time for her to adjust. In regards to the baby’s hearing (since this is a blog about hearing loss after all) we don’t have reason to believe that our 2nd child will be deaf. We did genetic testing when Fiona was a baby and they said her cause of hearing was not genetic. But you really never know – we will see how that newborn hearing screening goes at the hospital!! 🙂

There was a video of Fiona on my Facebook feed this morning showing her talking a year ago.  She was repeating family names back to me. I thought it was interesting to see the change and so I recorded an updated version today.  Here’s the two videos to compare:

Last year. Dec 21, 2015:


Also, here is a video of Fiona singing Jingle Bells:

Here she is practicing using “is” in sentences:

We hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas and a great start to 2017!! Crazy. 2017.




I wanted to post a few videos to show progress in Fiona’s pronunciation of words. As you can see it’s a lot more clear. We still have a lot of work to do but that will come with age and lots of practice.  Right now we are working on “k” sounding words in therapy.  She used to use “d” for “k” sounds and sometimes still does. Ms. Jenny had us use a popsicle stick to keep that tongue from touching the roof of her mouth. Try it at home. Pronounce a d and then a k. See what happens.  Fiona needs to be taught how these sounds are produced with much repetition and practice.



Practicing M words:

The very difficult “k” sound mastered. (This took 2-3 weeks of practice):

Daddy Finger song:


Talking up a storm

Wow, its been 3 months since I’ve last updated.  I feel like a lot has happened since then. Fiona’s language has gotten a lot more complex and her speech is sounding more intelligible. We’ve had a few family members and friends point out how much they can understand her.  That is HUGE to us since in the past only a few have been able to translate Fiona’s chatter. Thanks friends and family for pointing this out.

I think there are a few things going on which have helped. 1) The language is clicking with her.  It just took time.  2) Fiona seems more confident  3) The Myofunctional therapy is helping so much with articulation.

Ms. Jenny has been teaching Fiona tactile cues which help her to remember how to position her mouth for certain sounds.  This technique is called PROMPT therapy.  For example Jenny will close Fiona’s lips for the “m” sound while also putting a finger on her nose.  If you try this at home you will notice that the “m” sound is a nasal sound and so you can feel the vibration in your nose.  Also, Ms. Jenny will have Fiona look at her face so that she can mimic the shape of her mouth.

I wish I had some videos of Fiona talking but I haven’t had much luck.  Here are a few examples of what she’s been saying:

  • After finish the train go to the playground.
  • This is a baby duck and a mommy duck.
  • Can I taste your water?
  • I want a wet paper towel.
  • I’m sorry you fell down dog.
  • Be careful of the truck.
  • I had so much fun!

Ms. Lauren from AVC helps us so much to focus on language goals each week.  Each week she will assess Fiona’s current language and show us what to work on for that upcoming week. For example: this week we are encouraging Fiona to use 2 adjectives to describe a noun.  We will also try to expand on more prepositions used in Fiona’s language. (under, on top, behind)  I can definitely see how focusing on a few goals per week really helps. For example: Fiona said today “a big tunnel slide.”

We are so thrilled that Fiona is starting to get there. I just can’t believe it!  Sometimes it felt like months would go by and we weren’t seeing any progress.  What we didn’t think about was this whole time Fiona’s brain has been mapping all of this out/figuring it out piece by piece.  We just couldn’t see it yet.  Speech and Language are SO COMPLEX!!!



First Myofunctional Session

The word Myofunctional is quite a mouthful!  Fiona had her first 30 minute session with Ms. Jenny yesterday at TIMS.  The session went well!  We sat on the floor for the first 15 minutes and played games so that Ms. Jenny and Fiona could get to know each other. Fiona is pretty shy when meeting someone for the first time but she warmed up quickly.

Ms. Jenny taught us 10 different exercises that we will practice at home.  Basically we are waking up the muscles in Fiona’s mouth and building awareness of these muscles. This includes the tongue, lips, inner and outer cheeks, roof of mouth, and gums. Some examples: practicing puckering the lips, massaging Fiona’s face, and raspberries.

We will use more visual and tactile cues in this type of therapy.  We will practice in front of a mirror so that Fiona can see how her mouth should move for certain sounds.  Sometimes we will point to certain areas of the face and lead by example to show how her mouth and tongue should be placed.

Anyways, there’s your update!  Thanks for reading!  🙂

Articulation Therapy

We have been working so hard on Fiona’s articulation in the past several months.  But even after having Fiona listen and pronounce a sound or word over and over again she still can’t grasp it.  She replaces two consonants “n” and “h” for other consonants that she struggles with.  Examples: playground (hup-pah), diaper (hud-yah), pretzel (hubble), turn (hunch), I love you (I nuh noo).  She can pronounce a “p” but usually at the middle or end of a word/sound and never at the beginning.

Fiona’s Auditory Verbal therapist recommended that we schedule an evaluation with Sharon Wexler at the Institute of Myofunctional Studies.  Sharon specializes in oral/motor/articulation therapy.  Which basically takes a look at the mouth muscles to see what’s going on.  Fiona and I met with Sharon this morning.  She was fantastic and even met with us for 3 hours.  It was a very interesting discussion and she was very thorough in identifying and explaining everything to me.

Sharon believes that Fiona has dysarthria which is a condition in which the muscles you use for speech are weak or you have difficulty controlling them.  Fiona has a reverse swallow (tongue thrust) and not much lateral (horizontal) movement in her tongue.  This also could be a reason why Fiona used to choke on her food often.  She isn’t using her tongue muscles correctly in regards to eating and speaking.

Fiona could possibly have apraxia as well but we won’t know that until later on.  I’m not going to even touch that since we aren’t sure if she even has it.  But if you are interested in learning more I’ll share this link.

So it totally explains why Fiona uses the “n” and “h” sound to replace consonants. Sharon explained that these two consonants don’t require much tongue strength at all.   It also explains why Fiona has a difficult time pronouncing certain sounds.

Fiona will start going to The Institute of Myofunctional Studies for 30 minutes a week.  She will continue with AV therapy for an hour a week at AVC.  At TIOMS she will practice strengthening her oral/motor/mouth muscles and also work on articulation.  Sharon’s goal is to have Fiona pronouncing all English sounds correctly before Kindergarten.  We will work on the intelligibility of Fiona’s speech first.  Then we will work on her swallow pattern later on.

Sharon doesn’t seem concerned with Fiona’s speech in the long run.  This is just another step we need to take to get Fiona where she needs to be.

Our new daily/hourly motto is “Fiona will get there.” 





2 years hearing!

happy birthday

Today we celebrate Fiona’s 2nd year hearing birthday!  2 years ago today her right cochlear implant was turned on for the first time.  To reflect back on this amazing year of hearing I created a top 10 list of our favorite hearing moments:

  1. When Fiona started pronouncing daddy’s name correctly. Dadda instead of haha.
  2. When I turned off the music and Fiona passionately yelled “Turn it on!!!”
  3. Fiona saying “I love you.”
  4. Fiona using actual sentences.
  5. Listening to Fiona sing ALL DAY LONG.  Favorites are “wheels on the bus”, “daddy finger song”, “if you’re happy and you know it”
  6. Fiona using her words to communicate to her teachers at school!
  7. Watching Fiona try and count to 10.
  8. Fiona pronouncing the word dog with an actual “d” instead of “h”.
  9. When Fiona tells me to stop talking.  This is especially funny since with auditory verbal therapy we are supposed to narrate everything.  She’s caught on.
  10. Watching Fiona enjoy dancing to music.  Almost every morning she requests that we listen and dance to “Et-tannah” which is Madonna.


Here are some pictures of Fiona being herself:

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Of course I can’t finish of a profoundly strong blog post without a video.  Here are some Fiona dance moves:

Thanks for reading!! Here’s to another great year!!

Some Songs

Hi there!  We’ve had a great couple of weeks with Fiona’s speech.  There’s been several times when I’ve heard her say full sentences.  Here are a few examples:

  • I got a doggy! (showing me a valentine dog she got at school)
  • See you later mommy.
  • It’s a purple bow.
  • This is mommy’s pizza.

Sometimes when this comes out of her mouth I have to stop myself and think, woah, did she really just say that?  I just can’t believe she is talking.  We’ve worked so hard to get to this point its so nice to hear sentences!

Fiona’s pronunciation still needs a whole bunch of practice but learning how to talk is hard!  For example she uses the “h” sound a lot in place of the “p” sound.  We’ve been practicing speech babble at home.  (Having her repeat sounds like “pah pah” or “pie pie” over and over until it sounds correct). She gets bored of this game easily and sometimes yells NO!!! when we work on it.  She can be stubborn but works hard for ice cream cone stamps.  haha!!

Here are a few songs.  You’ll see what I mean with pronunciation.

Grandma and Fiona have been practicing this one a lot.  The wheels on the bus:

If you’re happy and you know it.  They do this song a lot in school and her teacher says “boom boom” when they stomp their feet.


2 minutes of chatter

I got a really good video of Fiona talking before lunch time.  She says a lot in this video.

We’ve been drilling the word please at home and I think she’s getting the hang of it. She’s a little under the weather – please excuse the crazy hair. 🙂 Sick kids don’t have to brush their hair.