Speech Therapy – Then and Now

In my latest post I discuss the importance of speech therapy BEFORE Sonya could hear with CIs

When Sonya was just four months old, she began speech therapy at the Center for Hearing and Communication in New York City. At that time, Sonya was wearing hearing aids, but did not yet have cochlear implants (she wasn’t implanted until she was seven months old). While the hearing aids certainly stimulated Sonya’s auditory nerves, her hearing loss was so profound that they didn’t do much for her. Regardless, we continued to make that hour long schlep each way downtown so that she could receive speech therapy.

You might ask – what’s the point of speech therapy before a child can actually hear? Believe me, I asked myself (and our therapists) this same question. While the idea of a speech therapy session might seem ridiculous at such a young age, I learned and now can attest to the fact that the time spent at the CHC before Sonya could hear was critical. It accomplished the following (and I am sure more):

  • Helped lessen the trauma of the upcoming transition to sound. It acquainted Sonya to the therapists, toys and games that she would one day hear – thus easing a transition that otherwise could be quite traumatic. Sonya bonded with her therapists at an early age. We played with balls that chimed, airplanes that would one day be associated with the “ling” sound “aahh,” and toys that moved and played music. These were toys that were visually stimulating, and would interest her even further (without scaring her) the day her cochlear implants were activated.
  • Helped to increase Sonya’s attention span. Early speech therapy sessions also helped to prepare Sonya for the future “work” she would have to do. Focusing on a single activity for an extended period of time helped her increase her attention span, which would be critical for future speech therapy lessons.
  • Served as therapy for me too. At times, Sonya’s speech therapy sessions were really my therapy sessions. An opportunity to discuss my own fears and concerns as I processed Sonya’s hearing loss. Confiding to Sonya’s therapists, I sought advice from sleep training a child with hearing loss to how to inform relatives and friends that Sonya was born deaf.

It wasn’t an easy time to say the least. I talk a bit about what it was like to travel six hours a week with an infant in Manhattan here. It was taxing on Sonya too. She didn’t get on schedule as easily as other babies. We didn’t have as many playdates (if any those early months), which was hard on me as a new mom. But I am so grateful we did it.

Today, at two and five months, Sonya is thriving in speech and school. The below video was taken a month ago. Sonya will continue to do speech therapy throughout her school years. It’s still not easy, but seeing our efforts pay off is a huge motivation to keep it up.

Come to a New York Comedy Show and Support Hearing Healthcare!

The Center for Hearing and Communication’s 31st Annual Comedy Night celebrates laughter and benefits hearing loss healthcare.

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On Wednesday, April 19th at 5:30 p.m., the Center for Hearing and Communication will host its 31st Annual Comedy Night at Caroline’s on Broadway. Since 1985 CHC has brought classic New York Comedy to thousands of people of all hearing abilities. Real time captioning, infrared listening system and sign language interpreters ensure our audience never misses the punch line, providing access to live comedy that can’t be found anywhere else.

CHC, a not for profit hearing health agency, provides life-affirming hearing healthcare to over 20,000 annually. We are committed to improving the quality of life for infants, children (including my daughter – born with profound hearing loss and who now wears cochlear implants) and adults with all degrees of hearing loss as well as children with listening, learning and auditory challenges. 

Tickets are $75 and include two drinks.

If you find yourself in New York City and would like to attend – please let me know! I would love to see you there!

xo

Missy

The Sweetest Dance

If you follow this blog, you are likely aware that when I learned my daughter Sonya had profound hearing loss and would need cochlear implants, the belief that she would not hear music as we do was one of the most distressing aspects of the diagnosis.

Now that Sonya is two years and five months (and has had cochlear implants since she was seven months old), I still don’t know what she hears when we play music. I do know one thing, however: she loves to dance!

Not only does she love to dance, I see her interpret music in her dance. She seems to hear the dynamics and the tempo. She is also an amazing mimic as she attempts to plie and arabesque. I don’t know exactly where she learned these moves. I am not exactly a great dancer.

I can’t get enough of the joy that radiates from her as she dances. I hope that other parents who have children with cochlear implants find some comfort in it too. We know so little about how the brain interprets sound electronically versus acoustically – especially for children implanted so young. Sonya’s love of music and dance shows us that at least for her, cochlear implants are not yet adversely impacting an appreciation for music.

If you are interested, check out my earlier posts on Sonya and music:

On Music

Suffering from Music Loss

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