Hearing Tests & Hearing Aids
Sooo a baby in a hearing aid might be the cutest thing I have ever seen.
All babies are given a standard hearing test when they are born. Most of the time it is not an in-depth test but merely a pass/fail. The test has to be completed when they are fully asleep, and if there is anything abnormal on the test, you are to follow up with ENT/Audiology.
When Nolan was born, and they took him to get his hearing test done we were under the impression that they would be testing both his normal ear and his microtia ear; however, when they brought him back, we realized that they only did the test on his normal ear. He passed, and we were BEYOND thrilled that we knew he had normal hearing on his left side.
We were told to follow up with ENT/Audiology, and this was the very first appointment that I made. We initially met with both ENT/Audiology when we had his lip and tongue tie cut the second time. We made an appointment for a few weeks later to get the hearing test done.
This time the test would be for both his left and right ears and would be an in-depth test to ensure that both of the hearing nerves were normal and functioning.
We took Nolan to get his Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) Test done when he was ten weeks old. Just like in the hospital this ABR test required him to be fully asleep. The appointment was scheduled for 2 hours and Joel and I kept thinking, "There is NO way this child is going to sleep for a solid 2 hours!"
Once we got there, it was a sigh of relief to find out that the test itself took about 40 minutes but they allow for 2 hours so that he would be able to come in and out of sleep and they would still be able to get what they needed.
They hooked him up to a bunch of wires and attached him to a computer for the ABR test. They would play different sounds and test his hearing range from high, to middle, to low frequency. They then register the brainwaves to see how/if he would respond.
At first, Nolan was having no part of napping and thought that it would be more fun to smile at the two Drs trying to perform his hearing test. We finally were able to get him to fall asleep, and he did fantastic! Even Joel was able to fall asleep (seriously... sitting up in a chair he snoozed for a while during the appointment).
We were amazed to find out that while Nolan did not have an external ear or ear canal on his right side, he does have a fully functioning hearing nerve. This meant that we would be able to get him set up with a Bone Anchored Sound Processor (BASP) and he would be able to hear on his right side!!!
BASP's are hearing aids that press against the bone to conduct sound. The sound waves vibrate on the bone and then pass that sound around the ear canal and directly to the hearing nerve. There is no surgery to be done. You just put the device on a soft-band and place it around his head.
We made an appointment for the following week to come back to get a demo hearing aid. Thankfully our ENT/Audiologists office is a testing site for hearing aids, and they can offer a FREE demo with a device.
This is a huge benefit that not all parents get. We are especially thankful to get to trail the device because... get ready for this one... insurance does NOT cover this type of hearing aid. They actually consider this an optional device, and they are costly.
A BASP aid was initially designed to be an implant only device. Babies are obviously not big enough to have an implanted hearing aid, so they created the soft band you see in the picture to be used until children are 7-8 years old. Because of this insurance companies do not cover BASP's as they cover implantable devices. **Insert eye roll**... but I will move on.
When we got to the office, we were SO excited for him to get fitted for the device. We decided to demo the Ponto 3 Superpower. This aid is made by Oticon Medical with the most complex range of sound on the market (from what I understand).
A prescription for a hearing aid is a lot like a prescription for glasses. The Dr. gives an exam and then programs the device with a specific prescription for Nolan. Over time we will have to get it adjusted and make additional changes as he grows (truthfully I am fascinated by the technology).
As soon as we connected the Ponto to the soft-band and placed it on Nolan's head, he stopped, focused in, and you could tell he was hearing better. He did not smile or cry, but you could tell he was listening on the right side for the first time in his short life.
To ensure that it was working the Audiologist needed to make him react to sound to ensure he was hearing through the Ponto. First, she clapped loud. He jumped. Then smiled.
Then she shook a bucket of legos. He jumped. Then screamed. And we had to take the device off him to calm him down. While he was upset, we were jumping for joy. He could hear!
Over the last few weeks, he has been wearing the Ponto on and off. Still, when you put it on him, he focuses in, and he is now starting to "talk" more when wearing it. When he coos and babbles will sometimes scare him, but it is incredible to watch him correct his volume and respond to sounds.
We are so in love with him, and we are thankful we can get this hearing aid on him at such a young age. We hope that we can get him his own device quickly so that it becomes his normal daily accessory, and he will be used to wearing it by the time he realizes that it is even there.