Sixten was born in Sweden as the second of three boys. What set Sixten apart from his brothers was that he was born without external ear and ear canal on his right side, a condition known as atresia/microtia. As a result, he had a hearing loss that could not be helped with regular behind-the-ear hearing aids.
His parents, Susanne and Jonny, first heard about the Baha System from their hearing care professional when Sixten was about one year old.
“Our doctor told us there was a hearing device suitable for Sixten and wondered if we wanted to test it,” recalls Jonny. “Not that long ago apparently, it was thought that hearing in one ear was enough. But now research has advanced and now we know that unilateral hearing loss is a bigger handicap than previously thought.”
In Jonny’s and Susanne’s mind, communication itself is primary, how it is done doesn’t matter as much. If there was a way to help Sixten hear and to communicate – they wanted to do it.
Used Baha Softband before surgery
Sixten began to wear a Baha sound processor on a Baha Softband from when he was one and a half.
“We are as sure as can be that Sixten is helped by the Baha device,” says Susanne. “We clearly noticed a difference in Sixten’s mood – he perked up and was more attentive when he had the Baha Softband on.”
By the spring of 2013, Sixten’s parents were convinced he was hearing well with his device and decided to take the next step and get an implant. The surgery went well, but a few months later Sixten dislocated his abutment after falling down from a table. When they went in to see their doctor about it, he recommended switching to the magnetic Baha Attract System.
Susanne and Jonny thought it sounded perfect for their son. So in the summer of 2014, Sixten got his new Baha Attract System.
“In the very beginning, we decided to try the Baha Softband because it was easy – no surgery,” says Susanne. “When we felt sure that he was being helped by the Softband we decided on the abutment. After he had his little accident and we heard about the Baha Attract, it was an obvious choice. Nothing is protruding through the skin and the sound processor stays put. If it had been available when Sixten was younger, we definitely would have gone with it.”
Doesn’t fall off
During our four hour visit with Sixten and his family, the little guy is not still for a second. He hangs upside down, gets thrown up in the air by his dad, runs around and wrestles with his older brother – and the sound processor stays in place. When it does get knocked off – after some especially boisterous wrestling – it’s caught by his safety line and Sixten just pops it back on.
“We’re just so relieved that he is so confident with it, and that he’s able to play just like other children,” says Sixten’s father.
According to Sixten’s parents, while both the Connect and Attract systems provide significant hearing benefits, the biggest advantages of the Baha Attract, compared to the Softband and the abutment, are how it looks and that it’s care free.
“It’s nice not to need the daily care,” says Susanne. “The skin is intact and he has no problems with infections.”
Can’t hear without it
Sixten is clearly fond of his Baha sound processor and doesn’t want to be without it for longer periods of time. As soon as he doesn’t have it on, his parents and teachers notice that he starts getting agitated, even a bit difficult, and tired from concentrating to hear.
“Previously he could be without it for maybe a day,” says Susanne. “But now he wants to have it on all the time. He says he can’t hear without it. If it falls off he instantly fixes it himself. He always has the safety line on so it won’t drop on the floor.”
“Here – try it on!” Sixten’s older brother listens through the magnet and sound processor while blocking his ears, to get an idea of how bone conduction works.
Magic Mini Mic
The family also enjoy the benefits of the wireless accessories, particularly the Cochlear Wireless Mini Microphone.
“The first time we tried the Mini Mic, we were outside and I had it clipped to my collar and Sixten could hear me even though he was far away, and he just cried ‘Mom, it’s magic!’”, smiles Susanne. “He uses it also to watch TV.”
“And Sixten – what do you think about your Baha sound processor?”
“It’s great because I can hear! It’s good to have a hearing device.”
“Is there anything you’d like to have?”
“Yes! Battery doors with T-Rex on them!” exclaims Sixten with a big grin.