A new type of babbling

Fiona has been babbling in a new way lately.  She is repeating syllables over and over again. (example: mamama)  Also, she is combining different syllables and sounds together in a string. (ex: mamawawababa)  This is really great to see!

This type of babbling is called canonical babbling and usually starts at the age of 6 to 10 months of age.  Since Fiona’s hearing age is 5 months then she is right on target for where we would want her to be.  If you’d like to learn more about the types of babbling babies go through here is a good link.

Here is a video of Fiona babbling:

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen this adorable video of two twins babbling back and forth together.  If not, its a must see.  😉

Recent Booth Testing Result and a Great CI Animation

Mark here today. It’s been a while since I’ve posted – partly I’ve been pretty busy at work, but mostly because Eliza has just been nailing it on the blog lately. I really couldn’t be happier with our decision for Eliza to stay home with Fiona to focus 100% on therapy, it’s really been paying off dividends!

In fact just last week Fiona had her latest booth testing and she heard ALL 6 Ling sounds in the 20-30 dB range! Ling sounds are the basic building blocks of speech, including OOOO, MMMM, EEE, AHHH, SHHH and SSSS. This is an incredible result and at a DB level that is well inside the speech banana of normal hearing.

Speech Banana

Speech Banana

Hard to believe how far Fiona has come in just 5 months! While it’s certainly a team effort, Eliza’s relentless focus on therapy day in and out is paying off handsome dividends! What a great mom!

Anyway, love-fest aside, I found this great “step by step” overview of how Cochlear Implants work today. It’s a complicated device, so I’m always looking for easier ways to explain how they work. This is one of the clearest explanations i’ve seen so far (and has fun flashing animations!)

Check it out if you get a moment:

Anyway, short update today. Hope everyone is doing great and enjoying their summer!

Fiona says mama!

Big week!  Fiona said mama for the first time!!  She actually started saying it at my mom and dads house while they were watching Fiona.  I guess she was asking where I was.  🙂

I was able to capture it on video!

As you can tell I’m one proud mama because I freak out a bit on the video. 🙂  I couldn’t help it.

Now Hear This! What If You Were Deaf?

Nickelodeon has a show tonight called “Now Hear This! What if You Were Deaf?

It’s a premiere of their show Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.  There will be kids who have cochlear implants and/or hearing aids.  There will be kids who communicate with ASL and/or spoken language.

Unfortunately we don’t have cable but maybe we can view it another way after it airs.  It’s at 8 pm (EST) on August 5th (tonight) on Nickelodeon.

If anyone catches it, let us know how it is!  I’d be interested to hear!



Want to Eat?

Fiona is really starting to pick up receptive language skills!  For example, when we say “Fiona, do you want to eat?” she knows what we are asking her.  Here is a video of Fiona walking to her highchair because I’m asking her if she wants to eat:

A huge part of therapy is receptive language skills.  Receptive language is the ability to to understand or comprehend language heard or read.   Some examples of receptive language skills that Fiona has mastered include:

  • Alerting to her name
  • Localizing to noisemaking toys
  • Understanding what baby, dog, mama and daddy mean.
  • Understands what “open it/close it” mean
  • Understands what “shake it” means

Cute Video

I wanted to share this adorable video of a 4 1/2 year old Chloe describing her cochlear implants.  I hope that Fiona will be just as proud of her cochlear implants as Chloe is.  🙂


Brrrr cold!

This past Tuesday in Auditory Verbal Therapy we concentrated on the function word “cold” among other things.  Fiona basically holds something cold and then we describe it and say its cold and go “brrrrrr”.  Other function words that we’ve done in the past are open, round and round, in, out, push, pull, etc.

So we’ve been working on that this week.  We’ve practiced with ice cream, frozen veggies, cold water, etc.  So, I didn’t think Fiona would catch on so quickly!  At the grocery store the other day I handed her some frozen foods and didn’t mention anything to her.  She immediately said “brrrrrr”!  I was so impressed!

So I got her saying “brrrrr” on video this morning while eating yogurt:

Name Calling and Word Update

Things are going great with Fiona and her two processors.  She is definitely localizing sound with both ears and learning how to say new words.

Here is a list of words/sounds that she now says and knows their meaning:

  • uh oh
  • on
  • off
  • up up up
  • more: mmmm OR um
  • out
  • woof woof woof: (mmm mmm mmm)
  • horse click: (her lips open and close like a kiss x 3)
  • open (“O” and kiss noise)

I feel like I have to be a detective when figuring out toddler speech.  And that goes for any toddler not just DHH.   For example here is Fiona saying open:

Name Calling:

Here is a fantastic video of something we appreciate daily – the fact that we can call Fiona’s name from a different room! (she was discovering a new chair from grandma Underwood)

In other news:

A new challenge we are facing is that Fiona is taking off her implants regularly.  So we are having her wear caps most days instead of headbands.  Since cochlear implants are so fragile we don’t want Fiona to break them.  For example, last week Fiona tore this cord in half!

photo (13)

Since you can’t see her adorable processors with her caps on, I wanted to show everyone her new stawberry skinits.  These are special stickers that you can order for various electronics.  (http://www.skinit.com/)

photo (10)






Fiona’s new Niadas

Fiona has been wearing her new processors the niadas (on both ears) for 10 days now.   We haven’t been able to tell if she can localize sound yet but she is starting to say “w”, “v” and “y” babble. Its too soon to tell what exactly she can hear with her left ear.  The audiologist will tweak the processor over the next month until Fiona can hear all sounds from the speech banana.

The niadas are lighter weight and shaped for behind the ear wear.  We intend on having Fiona wear her niadas during the day and then her neptune during bath time.

Here are Fiona’s niadas in princess pink.

Niada with Battery on

Niada with Battery on

Niada with Battery off

Niada with Battery off

Even though the niadas are designed for behind the ear, there is an option to wear them on the body.  There are 3 different mics that could be used.  2 of the mics are on the processor while 1 is on the headpiece (where the magnet is).   We are currently using the headpiece mic since its harder for Fiona to get the other mics near the opening of her ear.  The other mics are currently disabled.  She would have to wear the processors on her ear if we were to use those mics.  She loves pulling her ears and we could see her throwing the processor off immediately.

The black dot is wear the mic is located.

Headpiece. The black dot is where the mic is located.

This past week and a half have been dedicated to figuring out the best way for Fiona to keep these suckers on her head.  We ordered 2 long cords (for body worn) and 2 short cords (to wear on her head).

With the long cords the magnets kept falling off and getting caught on furniture.  We bought a spibelt and put the Niadas inside her belt but the belt kept slipping down and the magnets would come off.

We tried these two options for body worn:

Clipping them onto a harness.

Clipping them onto a harness.

Spi Belt (for runners)

Spi Belt (for runners)

I got frustrated with body worn since they kept falling off and I didn’t like staring at SO MUCH CORD!!  So I wanted to try the shorter cords and make headbands instead.  This worked much better and she doesn’t pull it off her head!!  Well most of the time 😉

Head bands:

Elastic bands that I sewed on.

Elastic bands that I sewed onto a headband.

Side view

Side view

Front pic

Front of headband

Front pic

Front of headband

Using clear goody hair elastics that I ran thru the headband.

Using clear goody hair elastics that I ran thru the headband.

So this is working for Fiona so far!  She’s been doing great with them.   We are so happy to have both surgeries behind us and to have our house back to normal again. 🙂

This is what normal looks like…

Mr. Potato Head glasses are so cool!

Mr. Potato Head glasses are so cool!

Yep! Was worth hearing Fiona laugh.

Yep! Was worth hearing Fiona laugh.

Activation Day! (Round 2)

Today was Fiona’s activation day for her second (left) ear. While the day had only a fraction of the fanfare of her original activation day, it’s still an important milestone as she now begins her life with full stereoscopic sound.

Eliza had a great post on this a few weeks ago with Two Ears are Better then One, but the net of all this is the benefits are far greater then just redundancy of hearing. Two functional ears are critical for localization of sound, something we take for granted in our day to day life. In addition, the overall quality of the sound is greatly improved by having both ears working in concert.

The procedure ran very similar to the original activation day, with the first hour spent mapping the new processor frequencies, and then the second hour testing her reception of sound. The procedure was complicated somewhat further by the fact that we had to turn on and off her existing processor to make sure she was picking up sound properly from the new ear.

As you can see here, the new setup has more wires to tangle up, which is something we’ll need to get acclimated to.

Two processors

Two processors

Umm, toy pie!

Umm, toy pie!


We’ve also switched to the Advanced Bionics Naida processor on both ears, which you can see clipped to the back of her shirt in the above picture. These processors are actually designed to be worn over the ear (hence the ear-like shape), but Fiona is too young to wear them in that configuration right now. Instead, clipping to the shirt is far more manageable until she’s old enough to manage the processors on the ear herself.

We also have lots of new Advanced Bionics gear to go with these processors, as you can see decked out below.

Fiona1 (3)

We’re facing a new challenge with the amount of exposed wiring, and Fiona loves to tug the ear pieces off her head. Eliza is on the case, though, already designing elaborate headbands and shirt tucking contraptions. I think she may have a career ahead of her in CI clothing!

Anyway, we did shoot some video today. At the start we didn’t get much of a response, but towards the end we were starting to see some glimmers. This is not unlike her first ear, though, where we saw the biggest improvements in the weeks following her activation.

This video starts near the end of the activation process when we started seeing some glimmers. What’s really interesting, though, is when her right (original) processor is turned back on around the 3:33 mark – Fiona has a clear reaction and almost instantly starts humming. She’s normally a very vocal girl, but was dead quiet during most of the left ear activation. When the right was turned back on, it was almost like flipping a hearing switch. Pretty telling, and surely a sign to come for her left ear down the road.

And finally, here are some more pics that have nothing to do with the activation, but are just so darn cute because it’s my daughter, enjoy 🙂

Learning to program

Learning to code just like Dad…

The most flexible you'll ever be Fiona, enjoy it now!

The most flexible you’ll ever be Fiona, enjoy it now!