Sunday, May 31, 2009

Water Fun!

Ben loves his bath. He splashes, gurgles, and tries to eat the wash cloth. But, he can't hear any of it because he has to have is hearing aids off.

So....we had some water fun outside.

Some splashing, no gurgling.

Ben spent most of his time looking at his feet.

I guess toes in the water look different with hearing aids on.

Don't worry Nadine. The aids are in the dryer tonight :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Step Closer

This week we headed up to OHSU to meet with their Genetic Counselors. Our goal is to find the cause of Ben's hearing loss.

After giving our family history (no congenital hearing loss on either side), Ben was given a physical exam. He is right on track with his growth and is meeting all the age appropriate developmental markers. We told the counselors about Ben's ABRs and how his MRI and CT scans were normal.

That's where we were stopped short. The counselors had reports from the scans we had not yet seen. Apparently, Ben's MRI and CT scans were not normal. The doctor noted that Ben has enlarged vestibular aqueducts.

So, what does that mean? It's hard to explain, and we are still learning, but this is what we know so far:

  • Vestibular aqueducts are narrow, bony canals that travel from the inner ear to deep inside the skull. The aqueducts begin inside the temporal bone, the part of the skull just above the ear.

  • A vestibular aqueduct is considered enlarged if it is greater than 1.5 millimeters in size, roughly the diameter of the head of a pin.

  • Scientists also are finding that five to 15 percent of children with sensorineural hearing loss, or hearing loss caused by damage to sensory cells inside the cochlea, have EVA.

  • The presence of EVA can be a symptom of a genetic disorder called Pendred syndrome, a cause of childhood hearing loss. Approximately one-third of individuals with EVA and hearing loss have Pendred syndrome. With Pendred syndrome, the hearing loss is progressive, which means that a Ben could have less hearing over time.

  • EVA may also be linked with balance problems.

  • No treatment has proven effective in reducing the hearing loss associated with EVA or in slowing its progression.

Through my many hours Googleing and reading posts on my favorite cochlear implant connection, cicircle yahoo group, I have found that quite a few kids have EVA and receive cochlear implants. Whew! Although there can be some extra complications, implantation is possible.

After letting our new discoveries sink in for a bit, we are actually relieved. Often, children with congenital hearing loss have other physical or developmental challenges that surface as the child ages. With the findings of the EVA we can let many of our fears go.

Our next step is to have Genetics counselors at OHSU test Ben for Pendred Syndrome. We'll worry about that when the time comes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let the games begin!

Look what Ben found!

These things are so cool!

And tasty?

Mom has her own plan!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Salem Heights

This week I had the opportunity to visit Salem Heights Elementary School. This is where deaf and hard of hearing children in three local counties are able to come together for mainstream education. The school provides sign language services and speech and language therapy specific to the kid's needs. My mom actually taught kindergarten there several years ago.

Quite a few of the kids at Salem Heights have hearing aids or Cochlear implants. I met with several kids who were excited to tell me all about their implants. They took off their processors and coils, proudly showing me how they hear. To these boys, Cochlear Implants and hearing aids are just a part of their lives. As natural as the shoes we put on each day.

I had conversations and played games with children who were deaf, just like Ben. It was enlightening to have a vision into Ben's future. I could picture him giggling with a group of boys or arguing over the rules of a game.

I brought a book about Ben's first day with his hearing aids to show the kids. One fifth grade boy, with an implant and a hearing aid, carefully read through each page of the book. He finished reading and said:

"What is your baby's name?"


"Is Ben going to get an implant too?"

"Yes. I think so."

"He will say: Thank you Mommy for letting me hear."


"He will say it was the best day of his life."

I smiled the whole way home. My baby has such a bright future.