Reading His Ears!

This morning when all was quiet and peaceful I realised that our TV volume, 40, was way too loud and after adjusting the volume to 35 it still sounded a bit loud…not sure if it’s our TV or my hearing. I ask Kai if he could hear the TV since his hearing aids (HA) were still in the dry box. His response “yes, you know my hearing is a bit better now”.

I replied “that’s good to know and what about your hearing aids” keen to hear his response. He looks at me quizzically “you know I still wear my hearing aids, but I don’t need it when it is so quiet”.

While having this discussion about his hearing, I quickly jumped out of bed and grabbed his “file” from the cupboard. “Let me show you what your hearing looks like”, eager to see, he scoots over and I show him his recent audiogram. He looks at me as if to say “you kidding me right?” –  kids are really gifted with funny expressions!

I grab a ruler and hold it along the 15dB mark “you see for kids their line should be here, that means that their hearing is okay”. Then we look at the lines below the 15 dB line (plotting his thresholds) and I explain to him why his right ear is better than his left. Then after explaining the speech banana we look at his audiogram again and make noises of all the pictures shown on an audiogram illustration of familiar sounds – the sound of the wind, the sound of water dripping, a baby crying and dogs barking. We also sound out f, s, th, p, h, g, z, v – speech sounds that’s outside his threshold when comparing to his audiogram.

The yellow indicates the “Speech Banana” where speech sounds presents on an audiogram.

We tried our best to make the high pitched screeching sounds to imitate what may be in the 4000 -8000Hz range and we laughed as I struggled to get my squeaky voice out and my low base tones for the 250-500Hz. A special mom-son moment.

After a while, when the laughter and screeching stopped, we paged through his file and looked at how different each “graph” is and I explain to him “and this is why some days you hear better than other days” and he says “mom, so when we go to Natalie again will you ask her to check to see if anything’s changed?”.

Today was a parenting milestone. Explaining my son’s hearing loss to him; why he has good and bad hearing days. Why the TV volume is 40 today and in a week’s time it may need to be on 50, why sometimes he can hear me from another room, but not hear me when I’m walking next to him outside with the traffic noise or why he argues with me that what he’s heard is correct when in fact “new enie” is actually “you ready”, “manlies” is actually “analyse”. Why we don’t have a conversation when he’s riding his bike and I’m walking behind him. Why I don’t call to him to move to the left as another cyclist approaches from behind him, knowing that if I call, he will turn his head to look at me and ask “what”, resulting in him slightly veering off the path and possibly colliding with the cyclist behind him. We have cycling rules – “stop and wait for me at the intersection”, “keep to the left” and “if you feel you are too far ahead of me, then turn around and ride back towards me”.

Before it was just “I can’t hear so well”, “I am hard of hearing”. Today he was interested to know more. Now he understands why when we go to Natalie, she adjusts his hearing aids and why when that happens, he can immediately hear the difference a few dB increases/decreases across the affected frequencies makes to his enjoyment of sound.

“Wow mommy that sounds (the screeching of the train coming to a stop) no longer annoys me!” he exclaimed on our way home recently after having his hearing aid fittings adjusted, and “I can hear so much better with my new moulds”. Our audiologist, Natalie Buttress, our Angel! Her warmth and kindness envelopes us each time we walk into her practice…she is our blessing in many ways!

A significant moment. He is after all only 7 years old…