Saturday, October 31, 2009

FINALLY! Ava has her new processors!

Ava picked up her new Nucleus 5 processors yesterday. They are very sleek and much thinner than the Freedoms. The reason Ava was able to get the upgrade was because she was implanted with the Nucleus 5 back in March as part of the study. Now that the N5 processors have been released, she was able to upgrade so that her internal implant now matches the external processor. Here are a few pictures to show the comparison of Freedom vs. Nucleus 5 processors:

In addition to being much smaller/thinner, the new processor has:

-improved water resistancy - IP44 and IP57 ratings
-remote control - the screen on the Freedom processor which was used for programming and troubleshooting, etc has been replaced by a remote control which has a much larger screen and is also in colour - this is a fantastic feature as it also features a trouble shooting program and takes you through a step by step list of how to troubleshoot-the remote is also used to adjust volume and sensitivity levels- the remote is also used to test the processors to make sure they are working properly
-the coil headpiece is now detachable from its cable
-two batteries instead of three

However, the processor is only using disposable batteries for the time being as the rechargeable battery has not received FDA approval - it is unknown as to when the rechargeable battery will be approved - we have been using the rechargeables with the Freedoms and have never used the disposables - it was so much more convenient. The disposables apparently have a life of 38 hours. So for Ava, the batteries will last just over three days as she wears her processors about 10 hours/day.

For some people, this upgrade may cost thousands of dollars. Do I think it is worth it? Depends on what the cosmetic difference is worth to you. All in all, the technology of the N5 processor as a hearing device to my knowledge is probably not much different then that of the Freedom. If it were us, we probably wouldn't pay to upgrade at this time. Ava was doing remarkably well with her Freedoms, having met or exceeded her targets for 6 months post activation.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Sunny Farm Day, Language Explosion and Walking!

A Sunny Farm Day

Today we took the girls to Downy's Farm during its annual pumpkin festival. I took my older children there every year when they were small. The farm is fantastic. They have a giant corn maze, huge pumpkin patch, petting zoo, farm animals, hay rides, fresh pies, haunted house, make your own scarecrows, to name a few things. Can you imagine Ava's surprise at meeting the farm animals up close for the first time! She was awestruck and speechless. It was hilarious. She met two cows, sheep, goats and geese.


Ava's implants have been activated for nearly 6 months. Not only has Ava started walking this month, but there has been an explosion in her expressive language and receptive language. Month by month she has added a word or two to her vocabulary. This month, not only has she amassed another 8-10 words, she also can speak those new words much more clearly. She has also put two words together for the first time "don't touch" (but does not say this clearly) and she wags her arm and shakes her head no when she says it. Today she said "sock".....(pronounced as "saw") and she said this with the "s" sound. I was so shocked! I understood that many hearing children don't use the "s" until they are nearly 3 years old. I could almost swear I heard the "ck" sound at the end one time but it was pretty darn close. Her receptive language has really taken off too......she seems to understand everything....."go get the ball" , "do you want a book?", "give the cow to mommy", "kiss the baby", "gimmee five", "where's the ______ . Her favourite book is "Brown Bear" by Bill Martin Jr. She wants us to read this book over and over and over! At the end of that book, there is a compilation of all the animals in the book on one page. Tonight, when I asked her "where's the white dog", she pointed to it as well as correctly pointing to every single animal on that page. There is one other book she really enjoys and that is "Where's Spot" by Eric Hill. She doesn't have the patience for any other books yet except a couple counting books (one cat, two babies, three dogs, etc).

At the same time, we have noticed a change in her personality. Let's just say she is well on her way to entering the "terrible twos". She is starting to throw little tantrums if I have to take something away from her or if she doesn't get what she wants when she wants. And she is into EVERYTHING. She loves emptying and dumping things....her clothes out of her drawers, the pots and pans, the pantry. She is like that cartoon character-the tasmanian devil - causing a whirling mess everywhere she goes. So I allow her one cupboard in the kitchen that she is allowed to rummage in. She enjoys singing and doing the actions to the "head and shoulders, knees and toes" song.

In comparison to my 4 older hearing children, I can see how Ava is making huge strides in all aspects of her development. Being a deaf child with cochlear implants has not in any shape or form limited Ava's development or potential. She really is just a regular kid but special in her own lovable ways. Who could ask for anything more than that?