Monday, July 23, 2007

Another Skyrocket Day

Ric and I took Aiden to his AV Therapy session today all by ourselves - I don't think that has happened yet! My Mom (who sometimes comes with me) is on vacation, and Noah (who is usally there too) is in summer camp this week. What a big difference in our session - our full and undivided attention was on Aiden and his therapist (which, I guess, is how it should always be - but life just gets in the way sometimes....). And, I don't know if it was because of that or because Aiden is just making such great progress, but he had a FANTASTIC session. Maybe his best yet.

As soon as Aiden's therapist laid out an object, Aiden named it off (or at least its sound) before she could even prompt him. And, when asked to pick an amimal out of a line of about 7 animal cards - he did it every time without hesitation! Not only that, but he was just chatting away to himself (in his own language for now) like crazy. One time during our session, a couple of other people walked through the hallway (behind a closed door behind us) who were talking. Aiden stopped what he was doing, turned around, and pointed to his ear. Wow! I barely hear their voices :>

Other than that, Aiden had a really super day. This was Noah's first day at camp, and I thought that Aiden was going to be really missing him. We kept him pretty busy during the day, so he wasn't bored, but he did walk around the house calling, "moah, moah" a couple of times. I have been taking the kids to a playgroup at the gym that is around the corner from my parent's house (Do those of you who don't live in Canada have this? In our big superstore grocery stores, there is a gym upstairs with weights, classes, cardio equipment, etc. AND a daycare. I think it's one of the best things every invented! Not only does Mommy get some time alone, and some excercise, but the kids get to spend an hour playing with some friends, playing games, and doing "kid friendly" excercises.). Anyway, Aiden ususally goes with Noah and Noah takes care of him while they are there (gets his snack, drink, etc). I didn't know this morning how Aiden was going to fare without his big brother, but I shouldn't have worred - he did great :>

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sometimes a "buh" is just a "bus"

I have to admit, there's one thing I don't totally get about Aiden's AV Therapy. Shortly after "switch on" we spent a TON of time teaching Aiden to say the sounds that are associated with certain items, and not the names associated with them (ie: meow for cat, ee ee ee for monkey, buh buh buh for bus, moo for cow - you get the picture). I realize that he needed to learn how to make all of these sounds to learn the sounds of speech. But, once he got all of those sounds down pat we are trying to get him to CHANGE and now say the real words. It's like, "Okay, you're very smart - great work learning all those sounds. Now, that's not what I want to hear anymore - say this instead." I'm sure it's frusterating for the little guy. It's frusterating for us too. No matter how many hundreds of times I say "cat" when he sees a cat, Aiden still says "meow" every time.

However, we did have a little breakthrough of sorts the other day. There is a school bus yard just down the street from our house. So, everytime we drive by the yard we hear, "buh, buh buh". In turn we say, "Good Aiden, that's a busssssssssssss". Well, we were all driving in the car out to Ric's Mom's house for dinner, and when we were driving by the bus yard, Aiden said, "bus" clear as day! I think we almost drove off the road :> Even Noah was cheering and clapping with us. Now, the cutest thing happens - Aiden still says a clear "bus" most of the time for all busses, and gives himself a little round of applause each time :> :>

Look Who's Talking Now

Some days, it seem like Aiden's progress happens tiny bit by tiny bit. A new word one week, a better vowel sound another week, etc. And sometimes, when you are really paying attention, Aiden's progress seems to skyrocket out of "nowhere".

Last Wednesday was one of those skyrocket days. We were in Belleville for a couple of days and Aiden was up at his usual 6:20 am (that changes when they get older, right?). I went in to get him and there he was, cute as always, jumping up and down in his crib with a big smile. He waved and said, "hi!!" in a big excited voice, handed me his soother and said, "soosie", then "up, up, up". We grabbed a diaper and headed into Noah's where we've been changing Aiden since the change table moved to Ottawa. Noah has a solar system mobile on his ceiling that Aiden likes to watch, so we turned it on and he said, "round and round". When we were finished we turned off the mobile, to which Aiden said, "All done. Bye bye." Going down the stairs it was, "down, down, down". When we got downstairs Aiden greeted Noah with a big, "Moah!!!"

It took me a minute after this exchange had happened to realize - hey! - Aiden just had a little conversation with me (okay, TO me) - USING WORDS!!! The funny thing was that his implant wasn't even on until we came downstairs and saw Noah.

Like I said, some days it seems like the progress is slow. And then there are days when you realize that Aiden's really GETTING IT, and this words are really coming together to help him communicate with us. I just can't wait to see what we'll be saying about him in 6 months time.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Happy summer everybody! As you can see above, Aiden is having no shortage of fun this summer :> And, he is progressing like crazy with his listening and speaking. We had him back at the Audiologist a couple of weeks ago for his 6 month "mapping", and that went really well. I think that Aiden is hearing more sounds - even very quiet things. In the sound booth he heard sounds as low as 25 decibels, which is amazing. What it means is that he hears everything that a person with good hearing would hear.
And, Aiden's vocabulary is improving and expanding every day. He says new words all the time, and is now starting to say a couple of 2 syllable words like ice cream and all done. He even says his own name almost perfectly! (But, if you can believe it, still not Mom or Dad!!!!).
Actually, his new found ability to communicate is both good and bad... It's good, because for the first time he can actually ASK for what he wants (by saying juice, shoes, cheese, up, more, etc.) - which is great. But, it's kind of getting in the way of his therapy sessions. Up until now, Aiden has happily gone along with his therapy and pretty much did whatever anyone asked him to do. Yesterday, I was doing a little session with him and I said, "okay, now give the ball to the girl." (note: he has to pick the ball out of a number of objects, and hand it to the girl doll as opposed to the boy doll). He looks right at me and says, "No!" What do you mean "no" ????!!!! We played for a couple more minutes, and he says, "all done. up. up. up." Okay.... I guess we're done. I guess I should be excited that he is acting just like any other two year old would :>
One cute story to add. Aiden had a follow up appointment today with his Pediatric Surgeon in Kingston. While we were in the waiting room, Ric and I were playing a little board game with Aiden, Noah and another little girl on one of the tables. The waiting room was packed with people, and when Aiden got bored of the game I went and sat beside another woman on the chairs. We got to talking and she was asking all about Aiden. One of her questions was whether he had any lasting consequences of being just one pound at birth. I said, "well, he lost his hearing in both ears." She looked at me very strangely and said, "but he can understand what you are saying to him" I explained to her about Aiden's Implant, but inside I was thinking, "Seriously! You really think so? The fact that he can hear is evident even to someone who he doesn't know his story, watching him for just 5 minutes? Yeah!!!!!!" Yes, Nicole, Aiden can hear :> :>

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Mom? Dad?

One would think that it would be easy to tell if your child can say "Mom" and "Dad" or not. Well, in our case, you'd be wrong! In just the last couple of days, we think Aiden is saying Mom and Dad.... but we're not sure.

Sometimes, when Aiden wants me to pick him up (he can say "up" perfectly), he says "um um" instead of "up up" - which certainly sounds like it could be Mom. Once he said "Mom" SO clearly that Ric and I both turned right around and said, "that was sure clear"! But, he hasn't repeated it.

"Dad" is the same way. He says "da da da", and once said "daddy" very clearly, but not consistently.

Anyway, I guess it's coming!!

Noah is a different story. Aiden has definately mastered saying "Noah". Okay, so it comes out as "oh ah" - but he certainly means Noah. He calls for him when he isn't in the room, or he can't see him. Cute :>

So Cool!

This is SO cool - we recently started tracking visits to Aiden's Blog with a new program (well, new to us anyway) called Google Analytics. We can access the program online ( and it keeps a record of how many people visit our Blog every day, whether they are new or returning visitors and where they are from (actually, only where their ISP's are located - but close enough for the entertainment value!!).

I had no idea what kind of resutls we were going to get, but I have been totally amazed!! I have only been tracking the site for 2 weeks, and already we have had visitors from Melbourne, Madrid, Berlin, Olney (in Buckinghamshire, England), Israel, Seoul, all across Canada, and all across the US (the furthest points being Baton Rouge and Carlsbad). So exciting!! Oddly enough, I have found it very interesting that our LEAST amount of visitors are in Canada.

I wonder what all of you from different parts of the world think of Aiden's Blog. Do you have a hearing loss? Do your children? Is there a Cochlear Implant in your life? Are your daily activites, struggles and hopes much different from our own? Imagine if we could set up a network of friends and visit each other when we are travelling around? :> Very cool.

Whoever you all are, I hope you keep coming back to Aiden's Blog. You have certainly given me a bit of extra incentive to keep my posts current. And, if you have a minute, please leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Where's Aiden's Implant?

You may have wondered where Aiden's Implant is in the pictures that we just posted (see next posting below). It's there - it just looks different than you are used to (unless you have seen Aiden lately). About 2 months ago, we got a bit of a hardware "upgrade" for Aiden's implant. You may remember that we were having no end of troubles keeping the behind the ear mic on Aiden's ear. So, we switched him to a device called a "behind the ear processor" or BTE. There is still a magnet on his head. That cord is attached to the BTE. The BTE is supposed to be worn behind the ear (hence the name) like a hearing aid. But, Aiden's ears are not close enough to his head, nor strong enough to hold it. So, we have it safety pinned to his sholder for the time being - as you can see in the above picture with Auntie Sharon.

When you see a picture of him face on, you don't even realize that it's there - especially if the BTE has been pinned a bit back on his sholder. So, now instead of having a blinking light on his ear, there is a blinking light on his sholder....

This, of course, is not a permanent solution. We make jokes about Aiden having this extremely high tech piece of equipment, valued in the neighbourhood of $10,000 (just for the hardware), and we have it safety pinned to his shirt....

There had been some talk of Aiden meeting with a plastic surgeon to see about firming up his little ear, and tucking it in closer to his head to accommodate the processor, but I think he needs to be a bit older first. I really NEVER thought I would be talking about taking my 2 year old to the plastic surgeon!!! Of course, I never imagined I would be doing a lot of things that I find myself doing :>


Here are some great new pictures for you all to enjoy!
The first is actually the first really great picture we have of Noah & Aiden together - taken on Easter Sunday.
The second is our little Lepricon on St. Patrick's Day.
The third is Aiden & I at the Batawa Easter Egg Hunt one week before Easter.
The fourth is Aiden at the same Batawa hunt collecting his eggs.
The last one I think is particularly funny. This was taken at The Rainforest Cafe in Yorkdale in Toronto about a month ago. They have "thunderstorms" in the restaurant, which are actually pretty loud. Noah didn't like them, and put his fingers in his ears whenever they started. Aiden followed suit... I wonder if that helped?? :>

Sunday, April 15, 2007

We're Back!

Wow. Was it really JANUARY 19th when I published my last posting?! I knew it had been awhile, but I was truly suprised that it had been THAT long. I don't know where the time goes, what with me just sitting around at home bored all the time....

Actually, as you might have guessed, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is so much going on with Aiden (and the rest of us) that I hardly know where to begin.

Aiden is saying so much! In 5 days, it will be 5 months since he was "turned on", and his progress has been remarkable. Here's a sample of what he is saying (all on his own, without prompting from us):

- Uh-oh (when he or someone else drops something)
- Bye-bye (when anyone is leaving. Also, when he hear's "bye bye" he will turn around and wave
- Meow (when he sees a cat - even on TV or in a store)
- Bow Wow (when he sees a dog)
- Brruuum (for a car)
- Aaaaahhhh - with a cute up and down finger gesture (for an airplane)
- Puh puh puh (for a boat)
- Baa baa (for a sheep)
- Hello (when he is playing with the phone, holding it to his ear - which is actually pretty funny given that he can't hear out of his ears :> Kind of sounds like "oh oh")
- Hi (as a greeting)
- Moo (for a cow)
- More (when he wants anything - a very long and drawn out version of the word more. He first said this word to tell us that he wanted more chocolate Easter eggs...)
- Baby (VERY clear!)
- Ball (pretty close anyway)
- Bounce bounce bounce (in association with ball - kind of like "bou bou bou")
- Hop hop hop (for a frog or bunny - a bit like "ha ha ha" - whispered)
- No (when we're playing a game with his sippy cup and he's telling me he doesn't want anymore. Kind of like "oh")
- Mmmmm (for food or eating - or anything that tastes good)
- Yeah! or Horray! (when he does something he's proud of)
- Hoo Hoo & owl (for an owl)
- Eee Eee Eee (for a monkey)
- Ssss (for a sleeping baby)
- Hot (for hot coffee, etc. - not exactly clearly that word but close and consistent - like "ha")

I could probably go on - but I think you get the point! Literally, I think he says something new - or says something he has already said a little bit more clearly - every day. And, given that his therapist says that what they look for is for a child to have mastered 10 words in 1 year, we think that he is a fantastic, brilliant little star. I think I was up to 22 words on the above list at less than 5 months....

Here's a sample of some of his reactions to sound:
- Whenever we are in a store and he hears an announcement, he always gets my attention and points to his ear.
- Actually, any new sound that he hears that he can't identify or see the source of, he points to his ear and looks as us as if to say, "I heard that - what is it?"
- My Mom & Dad's coffee machine makes a very distinct noise when it is finished brewing coffee (a bubbly gurgly sound), and Aiden now knows exactly what that sound means. When he hears it, he walks right over to the coffee machine, points up at it and then points to his ear.

Here are some things that Aiden has just started doing:
- Saying "a-ta" when he wants something or when he is giving you something (I say that to him when I want him to give me something)
- The "ssss" sound. To me, this is just a HUGE milestone. This is a sound that he DEFINATELY did not make pre-implant - not even remotely close. And, before he ever made this sound (about 2 months ago) I remarked to his therapist that when he did make the "ssss" sound I would know that we had really accomplished something. Aiden first made this sound for Ric when we were waiting at Hotel Dieu for Aiden's 8th (that's right, 8th) surgery that was subsequently canceled (long story). Way to go Ric!
- I think that he tried to call Noah - although it comes out as "ooh oohh"
- Aiden clearly understands more words than he can say. I told him we had to find his jacket the other day (like in plain, not accented language - I was really pretty much talking outloud to my self, and he went and go it! I almost fell over :>

So, what's next? Everything that Aiden is doing is so exciting, it seems a bit funny to be wondering what's next, but here's what we're looking out for:
- Aiden is doing so well with associating sounds with things (like meow for a cat), that now we are working on him saying the actual names of things. I think he will say cat or car next.
- Okay, so what did I count above, 22 words that he says? Well, two of them are NOT "mommy" or "daddy" or even anything close. That better come soon little one. Remember who the people are that feed you chocolate easter eggs....

Friday, January 19, 2007

What Is That Blinking Light On His Head?

This is actually a question that we got asked at Costco last week :>

As most of you know, there is a little red blinking light on Aiden's ear level microphone that lets us know that the implant is indeed picking up sound - and apparently makes other people very curious! When people have asked about Aiden's implant, I think I have told every person a different story. I have never known quite what to say before (Do I just call it a fancy hearing aid? Do I go into a lot of detail? Am I talking over or under people's heads?) - but I think I've figured it out! Here's what I'm going to tell anyone else who asks me, "what's that blinking light on his head?" (or words to that effect...)

"It's called a Cochlear Implant. It is like a hearing aid. But, whereas a hearing aid is an entirely external thing, part of this device is actually implanted in his head. Plus, a hearing aid's job is just to amplify sound. A Cochlear Implant goes much further - it actually picks sound up with a microphone (the blinking light part), translates that sound into electrical impulses (using this processor on his back), and sends that information to his brain (through this magnet on his head) which then interpret those impulses and understands them as sounds. It's really pretty amazing."

I hope that helps those of you who have wrote me and said that you also didn't know what to tell people.

Or, you could just follow what Aiden's 3.5 year old brother Noah tells people. Last time we were at Aiden's Pediatrican's office (Hi Dr. Dempsey!!), Noah and Aiden were playing in a little house that it is the waiting room with another girl who was probably 9 years old. She asked Noah what was on Aiden's head. I was just about to jump in and offer an explanation when Noah (as confidently as anything) said simply, "It's a Cochlear Implant, it helps him hear." Seriously!!!!! I didn't even know he KNEW the words Cochlear Implant - let alone be able to use them in a sentance that answered the little girl's question perfectly. I guess I could learn a thing or two from him...

Aiden's Second Mapping

Aiden had his second "mapping" at CHEO on Monday.

The mapping process is actually pretty cool. Aiden's Audiologist unhooks his implant from Aiden's Speech Processor (the part he wears on his back) and hooks it up instead to a laptop. The laptop is equiped with software that can read and change the settings on Aiden's Implant (much like you would change the settings on the graphic equalizer of a stereo). For Aiden's new Map, the Audiologist wanted to change some of the settings, which would increase Aiden's ability to perceive softer sounds (even as soft as a finger tapping lightly on a table). When the settings were first changed, the Audiologist made a "ssss" sound, and Aiden got very upset and cried like he was hurt - much like he did at the time of initial turn on. So, we gave him a break, and tried again with a less drastic change (even thought the first change was pretty small). Aiden adjusted pretty quickly to the new setting, so that Map was saved - and now this is what we use on Aiden's Implant every day.

Aiden's Audiologist has the ability to program 4 Maps into Aiden's Implant. This part is really cool. Aiden's "Map 1" is the new Map that was programmed on Monday that we are to use everyday. Aiden's "Map 2" is a setting that we change change the implant to if Aiden is in a noisy environment. For example, if we took him to a hockey game, we would take his speech processor, click a button, and reset his map to "P2." On this setting, Aiden would be able to hear less of the background noises at the game and be able to focus more on sounds closer to him (like us talking). In noisy enviroments, this is would be a much more comfortable Map for Aiden. Aiden's "Map 3" is a called the "Whisper Map". So, if we are in a very quiet place (like a library - or at home doing his therapy sessions) we change change to P3 and Aiden will be able to perceive quieter sounds with more clarity - and from a greater distance. Aiden's "Map 4" is simply the original Map we had before the changes were made on Monday.

After the Mapping session, Aiden got to have a little time in the sound booth - and he did amazingly well! He clearly picked up sounds at just 25db (which even I had trouble hearing!).

We had a really great visit all the way around this week in Ottawa. On Thursday, Noah, Aiden & I were invited to a playgroup that another Mom with a boy in AV Therapy at CHEO hosted. We had a really great time - it was so nice to meet her and the other Moms that had children with a hearing loss. All of the kids at the group have hearing aids now, and some are hoping to get Cochlear Implants soon. So, they were very interested in Aiden's experiences. I think it is so important to have this kind of support from people that are going through a similar experience as we are - not to mention that it's just nice to have new friends! :>