Monday, October 30, 2006

The Journey Begins

Ethan's surgery was September 19 and he was "activated" 3 weeks later on October 10th. They gave his wound time to heal (and it looks great now) before turning it on. He has been hearing for 3 weeks now but his brain has not yet been able to make sense of the sounds so we are not seeing a response yet. This is totally normal we are told as the neural pathways have yet to be formed and his brain literally doesn't know how to interpret sound yet. It's pretty fascinating stuff. I put a link in the links section to a great page that succintly describes how an implant works if you are interested. It's hard to tell people what it is and how it works because it's really a mouthful. I'm going to just start saying "he was born deaf and this device helps him hear"!

I wanted to point out that the implant looks rather dramatic on Ethan right now due to his size and lack of hair. Adults wearing implants can really go unnoticed sometimes because their hair covers the magnetic coil and they don't have a blinking light on the ear level piece. I rely on that light to tell me that it's all working but with time I would imagine that I'll not need that extra reassurance.

It's going to be a long slow road to sound, but God has blessed us with this opportunity and we'll have to return the favor with lots of patience and hard work. The research shows that the success of a cochlear implant relies heavily on the aural and speech rehabilitation process. Most children who are implanted are involved in Auditory Verbal therapy, so I've included a link that explains what that means. Basically, we're going to be emphasizing listening skills for years to come, a quality that will serve him well throughout his lifetime. The majority of the focus for now is on listening and speech production is taking the back seat. Lots of parents report that it took 18 months of listening before their child started to speak, others report first words after just 6 months. Our guy is such a signing maniac that it will be interesting to see how long it takes him.

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