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.

Join Cochlear in celebrating National Microtia Awareness Day!

This post was originally written for The Wire, a blog for Cochlear Americas recipients.


November 9th, National Microtia Awareness Day in the U.S., is dedicated to spreading knowledge and hope about microtia, a congenital birth defect which derives its name from the Latin term for “small ear.” Approximately one child in every 9,000 is born with microtia in which the appearance of one or both of the outer ears is affected with a smaller, or abnormally shaped, ear or sometimes, no ear at all. Microtia is often accompanied by atresia, which is the absence or closure of the external auditory ear canal and results in hearing loss in the affected ear.

National Microtia Awareness Day’s purpose is to educate the general public about this rare condition and provide support to families who may have a child affected by microtia. Depending on where families live, medical professionals may be very knowledgeable about the condition and can quickly educate and reassure parents. In other regions, the condition is rare enough that misinformation may lead to unnecessary concerns about their child’s future.

Creating awareness, acceptance and reducing the stigma associated with microtia and atresia, along with medical and technological advances has improved the lives of those living with these conditions. Ear reconstruction and prosthetics may be available options for children born with microtia. Hearing loss in the affected ear may be helped with bone conduction hearing devices, such as Cochlear’s Baha sound processor. Whatever path a parent chooses for their child’s individual needs, they will benefit by the resources and support that’s now more readily available through enhanced awareness.

National Microtia Awareness Day was established in 2016 by Melissa Tumblin, founder of Ear Community. As a parent of a child with microtia and atresia, Melissa founded Ear Community in 2010 to provide information, support and resources for all of those affected by these conditions. Since its inception, Ear Community has brought together over 6,500 people from around the world through its events and its online community to share experiences, knowledge and resources. Cochlear is proud to support the important work of the Ear Community and we invite you to learn more here.

Please help raise awareness and share your support on social media by using #MicrotiaAwarenessDay.

Read stories from children with microtia who have been helped to hear: Paige, Sixten, Eliana, Alana, and more here.

 

 

Happy Halloween from the Baha family!

A jack-o-lantern carved with a face shaped out of the Baha 5, Baha 5 Power and Baha 5 SuperPower.

Happy Halloween from the Baha family!

 

Download these Cochlear pumpkin carving stencils here, and check out 5 tips to enjoy Halloween from The Wire, a blog for Cochlear recipients in the Americas.

Happy Halloween!

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?

Milan from Hungary loves football and his Baha 5 Sound Processor

baha-5-user-milan-juventus

Baha 5 user and football enthusiast Milan Szente shows off his Baha 5 shirt at a recent launch event in Budapest, Hungary.

Milan was born with conductive hearing loss on both ears and has been wearing a Baha solution since he was little. Recently he upgraded from the BP100 to the Baha 5 System, and shared his experiences at the event. It was his very first time talking in front of a big audience!baha-5-small-smart

“I like the new drop-like shape of the Baha 5 Sound Processor, it is very elegant. My friends and family sometimes forget that I wear one, because it is so small! The new technology and the quality of sound are simply great. The accessories for it are very useful and make my life easier.”

Milan revealed that he uses all the Cochlear wireless accessories:

“Currently my favorite is the TV Streamer. I always keep the Remote Control around because it is very important for me. I use the TV Streamer daily, the Mini Mic approximately once a week at school, and the Phone Clip from time to time. When I start University I will probably use the Mini Mic more often, and if I get a job in the future I will use the Phone Clip more frequently – probably while driving.”

Milan enjoys both to play and listen to music. This summer he participated for the second time at the Beats of Cochlea Festival in Poland, an international music festival for hearing impaired people from around the world. He performed on the piece “The beginning” on the e-guitar, his own composition. Something he wouldn’t have been able to do without his Baha solution.

beats_of_cochlea_milan

But what Milan loves most is football – namely Italian team Juventus. He was actually inspired by the Cochlear representative in Central Europe, Antonio Sportelli.

“I am a Juventus fan because I have been inspired by Antonio, since I have met him. Antonio gave me a new nickname, because my name was ‘Milan’ and his favorite club is Juve, so he started calling me ‘Juve’. I am very proud of it. I love the football club because it is very cool and they play very good football. I am also a big fan of my hometown’s club ‘Videoton’. I usually go to matches with my father and friends.”

And his biggest dreams in life?

“I would like to work for Cochlear one day as they “gave me back hearing”, so I can hear now and always! Once in my life I would really like to watch a Juventus match live. I do find the Baha sound processors very interesting, so I would like to visit the Cochlear building in Sweden where they’re made. I would like to become as good in German and Swedish as I am in English (I have a level C1 language certification in English). There’s really no limits to what I can do.”

Read more: The Baha 5 Sound Processor is a Red Dot award winner

 

In the news: study shows fewer people feel embarrassed wearing hearing aids

The stigma of hearing devices may finally be decreasing!

A new study shows that fewer and fewer feel embarrassed wearing hearing aids.

Concerns about embarrassment have long been a major reason why people with hearing loss choose not to wear hearing devices. Many people go untreated years longer than necessary.

At least it is never too late to get help. Malcolm Simon, USA, had hearing loss all his life and didn’t get his Baha sound processor until 80 years of age. And he’s happier than ever!

“It was totally ignored in those days,” says Malcolm. “While glasses were common, hearing aids were not. They weren’t acceptable and people would actually laugh at you. I’d say, ‘Listen, a person has to wear glasses if they can’t see, so what’s wrong with a person wearing hearing aids if they can’t hear?’ Nowadays, I think hearing aids are accepted by everybody. People wear stuff in their ears and over their heads for all sorts of reasons, so there’s no longer a stigma about wearing hearing aids.”

Read Malcolm’s story here

Now a study carried out in Europe in 2009, 2012 and 2015, shows a steady decline in the number of people with hearing loss who indicate they are embarrassed to wear hearing aids.

embarrassed-wearing-hearing-aids-2016-study

 

In the 2009 survey, 56% of people with hearing loss said that they felt embarrassed wearing hearing aids. In 2012, 52% felt embarrassed. In 2015 the figure had dropped to 42%.

”I’m very happy that fewer and fewer people with hearing loss will feel embarrassed to wear hearing aids”, says Secretary General Kim Ruberg, hear-it AISBL.

”But I still cannot understand why people will feel embarrassed about hearing aids. Hearing loss is quite common and nothing to be embarrassed about. And who would be embarrassed of wearing glasses if they have a problem with their vision? Hearing aids help people to hear just like glasses help people to see.  I really hope that within a few years no one will feel embarrassed to wear hearing aids.”

Read more about the survey results

Hearing loss travel tips for the holidays

airport-security-travel-with-hearing-loss

Holiday season is almost here and for the world’s 360 million people with hearing loss, that might mean difficulty navigating crowded, noisy airports. If you’re visiting relatives or planning to travel someplace fun, make a list of what to pack to ensure you don’t forget any of your hearing device essentials.

Here are some simple suggestions for holiday travel with hearing loss to keep in mind:

  • Extra batteries
  • Cleaning kit
  • Dry Aid Kit, particularly if you’re travelling to humid areas
  • Your wireless accessories
  • Spare battery doors (if applicable)
  • Adapter for your charger if you’re traveling abroad
  • Security Control instruction card (either download from here or found in the Baha Support App)

Travcel-with-Baha-Sound-Processor

You also might want to schedule a quick trip to see your hearing healthcare professional before you go. Together, you can determine what adjustments, if any, need to be made to your hearing devices so you can hear effectively while on vacation.

Remember, it’s okay to walk through the airport security check wearing your Baha sound processors. The metal detectors won’t damage them. Do not place them on the conveyer belt or in the plastic bins, as that may generate static electricity. Also, you do not need to turn off your sound processors on the plane when the flight attendant tells you to turn off electronic devices, though you might need to switch them onto flight mode.

Enjoy your trip!

Read more at Healthyhearing.com