Wednesday, August 29, 2007

First Day of 10th Grade with new CI - 8/29/2007

Today was the first day back to school (10th Grade) for Nichole since getting her implant this summer. She is exactly 5 weeks post-activation. We got the FM system all set just two days earlier (Freedom FM for her processor and Microlink for her hearing aid - nothing like bilateral FM technology!). Before bed, I asked Nichole to compare/contrast her first school day with her CI versus pre-CI school. She said she could hear everything much "louder". I asked if it was 10% louder, 50%, 100%, etc. Nichole thought about it and said that it is about 75% louder than just her hearing aids alone (and she had the same FM technology back then). She then went on to say that when she is home, she understands all the words that everyone says, but that is not yet the case at school. Nichole felt that once she gets used to the way her new teachers talk, things will be *much* better having the CI.

Monday, August 27, 2007

5-Week Mapping - 8/27/2007

We saw Marilyn for Nichole's 5 week post-activation mapping session. School starts in 2 days, so we wanted to do the fine tuning now. Nichole's Listening Therapist, Dorothy, had sent Marilyn an e-mail summary of Nichole's progress so far, indicating a need for a "tweek" in the map to help her discriminated between d and g. Marilyn set the T (threshold) levels, then had Nichole sit at the computer and run the application to sett all the C (comfort) levels. Nichole likes doing this, because it empowers her (she is a whiz at computers), and lets her fine tune things. After following a discussion thread on CiCircle about FMs, we discussed with Marilyn the setting she would program into the processor for FM-vs-Mic levels. She recommends a 1:1 ratio. So that is what we have programmed into the first three memories. The fourth one has a 2:1 ratio (suppresses the Mic input) in case Nichole is in a class (maybe Chemistry lab) where it is very noisy near her, and she wants to have the teacher's voice over-ride the ambient noise.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Amusement Park Outing - 8/24/2007

Well, we did our annual outing to Canobie Lake Amusement park (in New Hampshire) tonight. Given Nichole's processor falls off so easily, we were constantly putting in on, then taking it off. Got quite tiresome, but better than the alternative of loosing it. We eagerly await the adult version of the snugfit for holding the processor on more securely (she tried the kid's version in Sturbridge, but it was too small).

The highlight of the night for me, was not the excitement of the Yankee Cannonball roller coaster nor being shot into the night sky on the Starblaster, but driving away from the park, in the dark car, with Nichole sitting in the seat behind me, yet being able to carry on a conversation with her! It was one of those moments I never thought I would experience. She couldn't see me or my wife in order to lipread, but she was understanding our questions and enthusiastically participating in the chat. I know I have said it before, but this is really a miracle device!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Listening Therapy

Nichole has been seeing a Speech and Language Therapist in Concord Mass (Dorothy) for post-activation auditory rehabilitation (a.k.a Listening Therapy). So far, she has had three one-hour sessions. Dorothy does a great job making it fun for Nichole.

At her first session back on 8/6/07 (1.5 weeks post-activation), Nichole was scoring 86% when repeating sentences verbatim. Dorothy was amazed. Nichole was having trouble discriminating between f/s and d/b but Dorothy said that will come as Nichole's brain re-wires itself.

Nichole's second session on 8/14/07 (3 weeks post-activation) went very well. Dorothy started with the ling sound check, hearing aid only, then CI only. Nichole missed-identified the e and s sounds with her CI (and didn't even hear the s with her HA).

Ling HA CI
a a a
e e e
u u e
m m m
s nothing sh
sh sh sh

During the word recognition exercise, Nichole got 100% of the "easy" words and 83% of the "difficult" words.

At the thirds session (8/21/07 - 4 weeks post-activation), Nichole was getting all the ling sounds. Nichole breezed through the single word recognition exercise, only having some problem discriminating between f and s. So Dorothy did some rapid rhyming words (just changing between Fat and Sat). Nichole go 100% of the words. Dorothy indicated that if you see an issue with mis-identification of two sounds, you can do the rapid ping-pong between two words just varying the problem sound. If they start to discriminate between them, then it is a brain re-wiring issue (needs time) versus a mapping issue. As the session progressed, we noticed that Nichole does have problem with g/d. She said they sound the same. IF you look at the Frequency Allocation Table (FAT) for these two, they have a lot of overlap. Dorothy felt that a mapping modification would help. The session ended with a verbatim activity. Dorothy read a kids rhyming book (Sheep Trick or Treat) and Nichole had to repeat back each phrase. Out of a total of 87 words, Nichole only missed 7, which is a 92% success rate! Dorothy still is amazed at how quickly Nichole's brain has re-wired (as we are)!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Nichole at IMAX movie - 8/2/2007

Our family does NOT go to the movies together much any more (at least the past couple of years) because Nichole can not understand the dialog (except for one or two random word). Well, I took the family to the New England Aquarium in Boston last night for a private event which included a free showing of the "Dinosaurs 3D" movie in their IMAX theater. We were all curious how Nichole would do, given she was activated exactly one week ago.

The CEO of the aquarium got up to welcome the guests and to give a little speech. We were sitting in the 2nd to last row, way at the top of the theater, and he was standing way down front (so hard to see his lips). He was telling how much money this group (corporate sponsors) raised for the aquarium, when Nichole turned to me and said "wow, 1.6 million dollars is a lot". Way cool that she could understand that phrase he had just spoken !!

As the film started, she gave a few "thumbs up" hand gestures, and after the film finished, she said she could understand a little of the narration.

Here is a snippet from an e-mail Nichole sent her audiologist this morning

"... we went to the New England Aquarium for an event and they showed Dinosaurs 3-D. I could understand phrases that were being said on the film (if I actually concentrated on the narrators voice) whereas before the CI, I only understood one, maybe two words throughout the whole film!!! So, I am really thankful for the CI and your help in mapping it."

Nichole has always had problems understanding electronically produced speech. It is so wonderful that she has the potential to understand it now.