Tuesday, February 09, 2010
After much discussion with Elizabeth's audiologist and her ENT we have decided to try an FM unit to help Elizabeth hear in noisy environments. The FM unit is comprised of a small hearing aid/tube that is placed in her ear and a microphone that the main speaker wears around their neck. The FM unit allows Elizabeth to only hear the speaker not the environmental noises or her peers. Elizabeth's hearing impairment is quite unique, Auditory Neuropathy is a difficult diagnosis as no type of hearing test can really determine how much she hears or does not hear, the difficulty with AN is related to the static/distortion that interferes with hearing (think a static radio signal) and this also fluctuates day by day. The use of hearing aids is not helpful because they amplify the distortion/static.
Elizabeth has very acute hearing at home but when we are in a noisy environment her hearing is limited. Most often in a noisy environment we touch her to get her attention and then speak to her close face to face.
We have been using her FM unit for the past couple of months and do notice her being more attentive and not needing a physical reminder. Her teacher at school notices she is more attentive at circle time and during gross motor time she will follow directions without being asked again. I have used it when we go out grocery shopping and it is amazing, normally I have stop, yell her name or go and get her when she wanders off but with the FM unit she comes immediately and follows directions to get items with me only whispering.
The FM unit still is a bit fiddly as it falls out a lot and just recently she lost the ear piece. We are very thankful our insurance approved this as it very costly and we even were approved for damage/loss which I think we may need to use more than once. Hopefully one day they can find other ways to treat and test AN that do not include a cochlear implant because at the present that is the only way to remove the distortion.