Following Shay’s hearing journey: from Softband to implant at age 11

Michelle and her daughter Shalynn, 11

Michelle and her daughter Shay, who wears a Softband.

By Michelle Robinson

When my daughter Shay was around one year old, I noticed that she was not reacting to loud noises like other children, so I decided to take her to have her hearing checked. Her family and I found out that she had moderate hearing loss in her right ear and that she had had it since birth. Although doctors did a hearing test when Shay was a newborn, we were not informed at the time that she failed it.

A short time after learning of Shay’s hearing loss, we made an appointment with our local ear, nose and throat specialist. The specialist confirmed that she had moderate hearing loss and nerve damage to her right ear. She needed a hearing aid. Shay received her first among many hearing aids at the age of two. In the years that followed, she has had several hearing exams, but due to her young age we were uncertain about what she was truly hearing.

When Shay was nine and a half I took her in for a routine hearing check, where we found out that her hearing loss was much more severe than we had thought. We learned she couldn’t hear voices and typical speech patterns. It turns out a normal hearing aid was not working for her at all.

My heart sank with this news. Shay not being able to hear out of her right ear was a huge concern: she was struggling in school because she couldn’t hear the teacher; it was difficult for her to ride her bike or play outside because she couldn’t hear when a car was coming up behind her.

The doctor explained to us the process of bone conduction, and he said he believed Shay would be a perfect candidate for the Baha System. We made an appointment right away with the Michigan Ear Institute. Doctors there confirmed that she has severe mixed hearing loss (a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss) in her right ear, and that a normal hearing aid would not work for her. We discussed the Baha System and decided that it would be our best option.

After doing some investigating I learned about the Baha Softband, normally used for very young children. Shay has had the Softband for a little over a year now. It was like night and day: finally, she could hear! I’ve included a video of her hearing with the Softband for the first time with this blog. After a little more than a year and after seeing the difference it has made in her life, we knew it was time to replace the Softband. This December at the age of 11, Shay will have implant surgery to start her new life with the Baha Connect System. She is so excited to keep hearing better!

Michelle Robinson lives in Cheboygan, Michigan, U.S., and is the mother of 11-year-old Baha recipient Shalynn Robinson.

Children’s language development: What your child should be able to say and hear at age two

Baha Softband child

What’s normal hearing for a one- or two-year old? Sometimes it can be difficult to assess where your child “should be” in terms of speech and hearing.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA), these are the general guidelines you should follow for your child’s development.

For example, a toddler should be able to put two words together (“more cookie,” “no juice,” “mommy book”), say more and more words every month, and point to pictures in a book when named.

What can you do to help their language development? For example:

  • Talk while doing things and going places. Point to familiar objects (cars, trees, birds) and say their names. “I see a dog. The dog says ‘woof.’ This is a big dog. This dog is brown.”
  • Use simple but grammatical speech that is easy for your child to imitate.
  • Expand on words. For example, if your child says “car,” you respond by saying, “You’re right! That is a big red car.”

If you suspect that your child may not be hearing properly, contact your local health care professional for a hearing assessment. The sooner you get the evaluation, the better.

Early intervention is the most important thing you can do for your child. Hearing is crucial to the development of their vital speech and language skills. Even minimal hearing loss can lead to learning and behavioural problems that can limit your child –both throughout school and beyond. The sooner your child can hear and use spoken language, the more likely they can overcome the disadvantages of hearing loss to realise their full academic and social potential.

Baha-5-Sound-processor-FM-radio-compatible

Read also: Has your child heard 30 million words by their fourth birthday?

November 9 is Microtia Awareness Day

butterfly-microtia-ear_highres_blue

November 9th is the first ever Microtia Awareness Day in the US, and is dedicated to spreading hope and knowledge concerning the congenital birth defect, which is named efter the Latin terms for little ears.

Approximately one out of every 8,000 babies are born with Microtia – a malformed outer ear – either on one or both sides. Children born with microtia will usually have a functioning inner ear, but as the outer and middle ear are affected, they will have conductive hearing loss. For children with microtia a conventional hearing aid is more than likely not an option, however they may benefit from a Baha solution that doesn’t require an outer ear to sit on and can bypass the problem and send sound directly to the inner ear.

The Ear Community Organization founded Microtia Awareness Day in 2016 and was submitted by the Tumblin family. Melissa Tumblin founded Ear Community in 2010 after stumbling through the hurdles and challenges of finding answers for her daughter when she was born with Microtia. Since then, Ear Community has brought over 6,500 people together from around the world at the organization’s events making it possible to share experiences and resources. The community is made up of not only children and adults with Microtia and their families, but teachers, advocates, and medical professionals from around the world who foster awareness and assistance for this amazing group of people. Board members either have the condition or a family member who does, so they have close personal experience with the obstacles from a myriad of perspectives. The Registrar at National Day Calendar approved Microtia Awareness Day in October.

Mark the calendar for Microtia Awareness Day for November 9th and think of the number 9 as the shape of an ear!

microtia-awareness-day

Download the Atresia/Microtia folder here

Quick guide: How to attach and remove your child’s Baha sound processor

If your child has a Baha System, there are some things you need to know – and also eventually train other caregivers, such as teachers, grandparents or preschool personnel. Here’s a guide on how to correctly take their sound processors on and off.

How to snap the Baha sound processor on and offhow-to-put-the-baha-on

Does your child use the Baha Connect System? The Baha sound processor is designed to “snap” onto the abutment. Attach the sound processor at a slight angle and tilt it into place, taking care to keep any hair out of the way. The tilt technique reduces pressure on the abutment and prevents discomfort.

To remove the sound processor, gently tilt it until it snaps off. Never pull the sound processor straight out as doing so may damage it.

If the snap coupling should break, send the Baha sound processor for repair.

How to attach and remove the magnet

how-to-attach-baha-attract-magnetIf your child has the Baha Attract System, there is an external magnet with a sound processor attached which is simply placed on the head, over the internal magnet. You do, however, need to attach the Baha sound processor correctly to the magnet.

  1. Holding the magnet flat in your hand, tilt the sound processor with the buttons positioned upwards and gently snap it into place
  2. Attach the Baha Safety Line to the sound processor
  3. Place the magnet and sound processor over the implant behind your child’s ear, with the arrow on the magnet pointing upwards

Tip: The less hair underneath the magnet, the more firm the device stays on.

When taking the device off, grasp the sound processor with the magnet still attached, and gently pull it away from the head. Place one finger under the sound processor and gently tilt until it releases.

 

How to fit the Baha Softband

If your child is wearing a Baha Softband, you need to know how to fit it correctly. Children tend to push the band up on top of their head, like a hairband, but the best results are achieved when wearing the band on the forehead and the sound processor as close to the ear as possible.

baha-softband-instructionsThe Baha Softband is fitted with one or two snap connectors and a safety release (C), which are designed to open if the softband should catch on an object. Never use the safety release to open or close the softband.

The bilateral version has two sliders: one for adjusting the total length and one for adjusting the distance between the snap connectors.

  1.  First, adjust the length of the softband (B)
  2. Attach the sound processor to the snap connector (A)
  3. Place the Baha Softband on the head and adjust it to fit comfortably. A rule of thumb is that you should be able to insert one finger underneath the band.
  4. Turn the volume on the sound processor up slowly

Baha-Softband-tips-childrenAll done! Off you go!

Read also: Six Softband tips

10 Halloween tips ‘n tricks for kids with hearing loss

children-costumes-halloween

Halloween is celebrated all over the world on 31 October. It’s thought to have originated with the medieval Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. Halloween became a major holiday in North America in the 19th century, thanks to mass Irish and Scottish immigration.

Nowadays the focus is less scary and more fun for children. To avoid any mishaps, here are some tips to help your hard of hearing little ones have a safe and fun Halloween:

  1. Before purchasing a costume, double check that the mask, hat or other headgear fits comfortably and securely around your child’s Baha sound processor(s)
  2. Apply any makeup, hairspray or glitter before putting on your child’s sound processor
  3. Make sure the sound processor is functioning properly before you leave the house
  4. Attach the sound processor securely with the Baha Safety Line
  5. Pack a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra sound processor batteries, and a mobile phone for the outing
  6. Consider using the wireless Mini Microphone for extra safety
  7. Decorate costumes with reflective tape for trick-or-treating
  8. Guide young children from house to house always keeping at their side or holding their hands, particularly at crosswalks
  9. Instruct your kids not to eat any of the candy until they come home and have had the treats examined by an adult
  10. Have fun!

How to use the Baha Safety Line

Sixten-Baha-Attract-children

Kids love to play, run and be active, and the Baha sound processor shouldn’t be a hindrance. On the contrary, it’s a natural part of your child’s life, helping them to hear, learn and communicate.

baha-safety-line

The Baha Safety Line is an indispensable accessory for active children! While a number of studies of the Baha Attract System show that the SP Magnet has extremely good retention – as it is designed to firmly remain on when running, going up and down stairs or during exercise routines – we recommend always using a safety line for extra security. The little tool both prevents the sound processor from hitting the ground should it come loose, and helps children to easily put it back on themselves.

Insert the line into the attachment point and fasten it to your clothing as shown below.


Read also: Five-year old Sixten uses Baha Attract with a safety line

Baha 5 sound processors are tamper-proof for your child’s safety

attract-magnet-children

Are you a parent or caregiver to a child with a Baha 5 System? Here are some tips on how to handle the battery door in your child’s sound processor!

All Baha 5 sound processors are equipped with tamper-proof features to prevent accidents from happening. Batteries, for instance can be very harmful if swallowed. You can rest assured that Cochlear has taken great measures to prevent your child from being able to open the Baha sound processor and taking out the battery.

It’s very important however that you check the sound processor on a daily basis to make sure that everything is working correctly.

baha-5-battery-door-children

The Baha 5 Sound Processor has an optional tamper-proof battery door specifically designed for children.

To unlock the sound processor, carefully insert the tip of a pen in the small hole on the tamper-proof battery door and gently open the battery compartment. To lock the device, simply close the battery compartment until it is completely closed.

You must feel two clicks when you close it – if not, you should replace the door immediately. If the little “pin” (circled in red) is broken, the tamper-proof door won’t function as designed, and there is a risk your battery-door-pinchild could open the door. Contact your local Cochlear representative to order extra tamper-proof battery doors.

Tip: Make it a habit that every time you change the sound processor battery or start the device, to make sure the door is firmly locked by lightly trying to open it – to test that the tamper-proof is functioning.

See also: How to change the battery in the Baha 5 Sound Processor

baha-5-power-children-lock

The Baha 5 Power and the Baha 5 SuperPower sound processors have a built-in locking mechanism in their battery doors. You lock and unlock it using the tamper-proof tool provided in the sound processor box.

To lock the battery door, as shown in this instructional video, place the locking tool into the battery door slot. Slide the locking pin up into place. To unlock, slide the locking pin down into place and gently open the battery compartment.

Should the battery door break, you can change it yourself, like this.

See also: How to change and charge the battery in Baha 5 SuperPower

What to do?

If your child still somehow should manage to swallow a battery, contact your hospital emergency department immediately. Don’t try to make him or her throw up, and avoid food and drink.

Not sure? Warning signs that a child has swallowed a battery include: excess dribbling, trouble swallowing, vomiting, coughing, choking, and unexplained chest infection.

baha-support-app

Psst: Download the Baha Support App to keep all instructional videos and tips in your smartphone!