Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Audiometry

This month has been SOOOO crazy with Jordan's appointments in addition to a slew of additional appts for her school district assessments AND I now work two days a week AND Shannon is doing his mortgage work along with taking classes toward his master's degree. Yikes.
Today was the day Jordan went in for her vision and hearing screening with the district nurse. Many of you may not know that I am a teacher of the deaf (really I'm just a mom but my credential and master's says I'm a teacher of the deaf so two days a week now I'm both a mom and a teacher). Most of my schooling was in the area of specialized instruction for deaf/hard of hearing children with some speech pathology courses and some audiology courses. Because of this, I was particularly interested in Jordan's vision and hearing screening today. When I talked to Shan and asked him what they did, what type of equipment they used he chuckled and said something like, "You're gonna love this. Are you sitting down?" He proceeded to tell me that they told her to turn around and then the nurse rang bells and made different sounds with various toys. If Jordan could hear them then she passed. I nearly fell out of my chair. I was at work so I asked our nurse why on earth that would be their protocol. She said it is a very antiquated way that schools used to check hearing. No one uses that method anymore according to her. She told me they now use an audiometer, which is what I was expecting from our local district. She let me take hers home to test Jordan myself for peace of mind.

Here's a sideways picture of the audiometer. It kept rotating sideways when I posted it - sorry.
It presents tones through headphones at various frequencies and decibels so an actual audiogram can be made. It also isolates each ear so you can tell the hearing in each ear independently.



Being an audiology student and teacher of the deaf, I can't tell you how many textbooks I've seen with cute kids holding blocks up with their headphones on, waiting to hear the tones.
I love learning about the intricacies of the middle and inner ear and how perfectly things must work together for information to reach the brain. It is truly fascinating stuff. To be able to give my own children hearing tests was SO fun and to see them with their own little blocks in hand was really so cool.
When Jordan was born I requested a Newborn Hearing Screening. They said no (not in so many words but basically they resisted). I persisted and basically said that I didn't want to leave until they checked her hearing. With everything else I needed to know she could hear. She failed. We took her to an ENT then an audiologist who did an ABR - Auditory Brainstem Response test which measures the brain's response to sound. She got no response. I was devastated to say the least. I went home several times after various audiological appts and stood in front of my textbook shelf and cried. I couldn't make myself pull those books down to look at them as a parent. I couldn't face the thought that of all disabilities she could be deaf. I knew the challenges from my schooling and my job. I knew what deafness would mean for her and for our family. After more tests were done it was suggested that it was simply fluid and that once she got tubes put in her ears that she would hear fine. Thankfully at four months she got tubes and we found that her hearing was fine. I was beyond relieved. Since then I've worked very hard to make sure her tubes are in place and that her hearing, despite fluid, infections and tubes is managed. She failed her last brief hearing test in one ear at the ENT's office so I was relieved to be able to test her myself.
One more quick note is that I offered to also test my neighbor and her daughter. Her daughter came back within normal limits but my friend showed a significant high frequency loss. She has suspected it for a while but hadn't had time to go get it checked. She's relieved to know now and to be encouraged to get a full work up. I also gave her handouts describing the type of loss that showed up on her chart tonight. What a fun toy this is. Anyone else wanna try it? :)


4 comments:

Mark, Allison, and Tessa Joy said...

Jen! I loved reading this entry (I enjoy all your entries, but this one in particular b/c I could totally relate!) I took Tessa to the ENT earlier this summer and they did a hearing test on her as well. She didn't pass. As her mother, I was confident that this testing system was ridiculous and was also confident that my daughter was just fine. The test? Sit in a room full of all different pictures and ask a toddler to sit still enough so she could turn toward little beeps...it's supposed to be all about her reaction time. Whatever. Anyway, today we were in Costco about 4 isles away from the toy section...Tessa says, "what's that noise?" I didn't hear it. She asked again. I listened carefully and it was the sound of a horse galloping. We walked over toward the noise and sure enough, a toy rocking horse that "gallops" and "neighs". How neat is that? If I lived closer to you, I would borrow that "fun toy" of yours! :)

NerdyMom said...

I just wanted to say Happy Birthday to Jordan!!! What a big girl and it's amazing to see how she's grown since I met you guys online. Have a wonderful celebration!

leah said...

Oh, my! I can't believe anyone uses bells to test a child's hearing anymore. You're a good mom, to insist on a hearing test for your baby- a lot of parents are convinced their baby can hear, but don't realize that deafness can come in many different levels (our little guy has a moderately severe rising to mild loss at the moment). He appears to "hear" but misses the details important for learning language- I'm definitely grateful for the newborn hearing screening program!

Jennifer Gray said...

Leah - you are SO right about kids appearing to hear (like your son). It's tragic when a hearing loss goes undetected until sometimes middle elementary school. Thank for your post. Have we met online before? Where are you from? Do you have a blog? Email if you'd like at graysfour@cox.net