Monday, August 20, 2007

Semantics

I would like to start this post by first saying that Ethan's cochlear implant is currently working well and we feel that he is very successful at hearing with it.

That said...

I am a little preoccupied with the most recent speech evaluation conducted by the experts at our center in Cincinnati. This is in no way an indictment of their abilities, they're all so skilled and experienced. I'm just coming to terms with the language used in parts of that report.

The report said "severe language delay".

You guessed it, I'm all whacked out because of the term 'severe'.

I don't write about Ethan's progress in the area of speech because there is really very little to report. I suppose that his current therapist (who has a highly trained ear for the subtleties of language development) might beg to differ, so let me break it down for you.

Ethan has not been making consonant sounds, other than the occasional h or m sound. He has never made the b or d sounds, or any other consonants for that matter. He squeals and screeches and grunts. He is quite good at mimicking patterns of sound, including music. But he's not making much progress with actual speech.

Others his age implanted at the same time not only have the ability to form consonant sounds, they are saying actual words, lots of them. This is what has led his doctors to be concerned about the potential for verbal apraxia. This is further backed up by the fact that his brain shows some damage from the virus in the motor cortex, which is why they believe he has had some gross and fine motor control issues. I used to think his balance, or lack of, was an attribute of the inner ear/vestibular mechanism, but that is unlikely the case given the results of his CT scans.

Ethan's hearing age is 11 months, meaning that is how long he has had the ability to hear. I've never spent much time with a hearing child that is 11 months old, but something tells me that Ethan is not that different vocally. So what's the big deal?

Whatever the case, we can and will jump that hurdle. Maybe we're even jumping it right now with all this therapy.

It's a good thing Rich and I have long legs.

-----------Update 8-22-07------------

I forgot to mention something about the report that those familiar with Ci rehab will find interesting. The report actually encourages us to continue using/teaching sign with Ethan. I found that vindicating on the one hand since it's very important to me that Ethan learn how to sign. On another level, how many Ci therapists are out there urging the use of sign?? Yeah, sort of rare.

8 comments:

slouching mom said...

My kids said pretty much nothing at eleven months, as I recall. At least nothing that clearly resembled consonants or vowels.

Hang in there.

xxoo

Jennifer said...

If it helps you any, I had one of those kids too, and she could hear. She just didn't have anything to say, but when she did...oy, there was absolutely no stopping her. ((HUGS))

Eileen said...

Heather,
Does not sound that far off from an 11 month old. Don't let the "Severe" freak you out. All those tests are based on numbers and fall into ranges and categories and they can be pretty scarey. However, you know Ethan, have seen his progress, will continue to see progress and have him in the right therapies, it makes all the difference. Kids catch up so quickly during the toddler years and age 5. I see it all the time. I know how hard and frustrating it can all be, but it is all going in the right direction. You are an amazing mother Heather and you are doing everthing right for your son. He is going to continue to thrive and knock off those developmental milestones. XOXOXO

PS Stop by my blog.
PSS Love the picture

Laurie said...

Don't give up on Ethan. . .some kids take longer than others. And it could be a programming issue with the CI, too. But, he can't tell you that. . .

Maybe two implants will make a difference if and when he gets approval for it.

Keep on keeping on! You are such good parents for him and I know you will do whatever you can to help him succeed!

Dianrez said...

Even in the same family, kids can vary widely in their language acquisition. First (hearing girl) said Mama at four months and Dada obsessively until nearly 18 months before saying words. Second (deaf boy) signed at eight months and two word sentences at age 3. Third (hearing girl) stayed silent until nearly four and then abruptly turned into a chatterbox that nineteen years later hasn't shut up yet. All were taught standard speech and sign at the usual times. All are either in college now or graduated.

Keep up the input in all language modalities. It'll happen, CI or no. Enjoy him while he's still tiny.

Hetha said...

Dianrez, you make such an excellent point. One that has been made to me before on Ci Circle, but that I tend to forget on ocassion. Thanks for the reminder!

Drew's Mom said...

I know that my hearing daughter, now almost 2 1/2 years old, had zero language at 11 months. And now all of Drew's therapists tell me how advanced her language is. The language really explodes between 15-18 months. It seems like they start repeating new words every day.

Drew's Dad and I say that there are benefits of having an older, hearing child, because in many ways we know what to expect. But then again, every child is different so it is too hard to compare.

I also think there is something about boys...they aren't as fast at things like us girls. :) Our daughter met every milestone early, and Drew, well we're just happy he's making progress! It's amazing how different each baby is.

The good news is that Ethan is in great hands!

dawn224 said...

Eileen's right (In my other life, I'm an SLP), it's all about the numbers and his scores on tests and the book we score a test from give a range of scores that fall in a mild/moderate/severe category.

It might give you some hearts ease to look at whatever standard score they gave on a test and use that as a benchmark for his growth - right now it may look scary, but you're doing such a good job of being his advocate and teacher, that language growth is totally possible.