Saturday, August 15, 2009

Can you hear that?

Because neither Rachel nor Simon were talking at the age of 2, as parents we were concerned and contacted the county and our pediatrician for assistance. That really is where all of this started. In the back of our minds, we had questions about whether Simon was autistic, but it was in the background. The pediatrician referred us not only to the county, but to a developmental pediatrician and for the twins to both have a hearing test.

So, we took them for hearing tests at the beginning of April, and we'll just say it went poorly. Simon SCREAMED the whole time and they weren't able to get any measurements on him. Rachel wasn't much better. And she had recently been sick so she had fluid in her middle ear which impacted the results they were able to get. We brought Simon back (and planned to bring Rachel as well) about 2 weeks later to try again, and didn't get any better results. Things went so badly that the recommendation was to have them sedated for the ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) test battery -- something that I was vehemently opposed to. I didn't want them sedating either one of them, especially when I was confident that their hearing was just fine. I was in such a state at the time that I was on the verge of just shutting down. The audiologist seemed to recognize that I was having a real problem in talking to her and she volunteered to talk to the speech pathologist with the county (I believe to get her to convince me to do this test). I approved this communication -- and the overall result was that we would wait and redo these tests in 3 months for both of them to see if we can get a better response. In the meantime, their teachers would watch to see if there was any hearing impairment which would require testing to be more immediate. If the testing results were still the same, then I would consider the ABR tests for both of the twins. It was a compromise, which, at the time, I felt was fair.

It's been 3 months since that decision was made, and last month I was reminded that we still needed accurate hearing tests results. I know I agreed to this compromise, so, even though I dreaded it, I contacted the audiologist and scheduled the appointments -- Simon was for August 14 and Rachel was for the 26th. After scheduling the appointment, I discussed with the speech pathologist ways to prepare Simon (in particular) for this test to make it as painless for everyone as possible. It was relatively last minute, but we made the attempt.

Well, yesterday was the 14th, and the aforementioned speech pathologist volunteered to come with me for Simon's hearing test. She had spoken with the audiologist prior to the visit about trying to test his hearing without putting anything into his ears FIRST to see if they can get the results they needed without upsetting him too much. However, as we were approaching the building, Simon seemed to recognize exactly where we were heading (he has an unbelievable memory for things he doesn't like) and became agitated. By the time we entered the building and the office, he was near hysterical. By the time we were called in, he was GONE. It took a while, but the audiologist was able to observe him during the behavioral testing and was able to get consistent results which allowed her to form an opinion about his hearing. His hearing is fine in the upper levels with a mild questionable hearing loss in the lower tones, but this shouldn't affect speech development. So, no sedation was necessary. However, she does want him to come back in 3 months.

And, much to my surprise, they were able to test Rachel as well. She didn't have any of the problems that Simon had -- she went into the sound-proof booth relatively willingly and was intrigued by the toys that were available for her to play with. She responded to all the sounds and voices presented to her indicating that her hearing is just fine. Additionally, since she had previously tested with fluid in her middle ear back in April, when they repeated the tympanogram this was also perfectly normal.

So, now we don't have to go back there for another 3 months for a repeat test for Simon, and neither of the twins need to be sedated for the ABR test. It wasn't a pleasant experience, but it's over -- that's the important part -- and neither of them have significant hearing loss which will impair their development.

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