Sonya Loves Her New Cochlear Implant Charms!

While perusing Etsy for cute cochlear implant accessories for Sonya, I came across Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms. In case you haven’t encountered her, Hayleigh Scott  designs little charms and jewels for hearing aids and cochlear implants. She has a gazillion designs, from tube twists to decorate the wire in between the coil and processor, to tube treasures, which decorate the tube between the hearing aid or processor and ear mold, and all types of charms which can stick on the processors, the coils, etc.

owl charms

I purchased two owl charms for Sonya, who loves owls and who has an imaginary owl friend. I did this because I thought they were sweet and also because I recently lost Sonya’s cherished owl barrette. “What about Little Hootie?!” Sonya demands each morning before leaving for camp. Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms seemed like a good replacement.

I received the custom ordered charms in just a couple days. Did I mention that they cost only $2.99 per charm? The Cochlear Bling charms attach to Sonya’s processors by way of adhesive. The charms are sturdy and seem likely to hold up to a toddler’s abuse.

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I was so impressed that I contacted Hayleigh the shop owner to thank her, and learned that she started this business when she was just TEN. Hayleigh, who has worn hearing aid since she was 18 months old, started designing charms at just five years of age. Today, she is a college.

Not only is she a child business phenom, she is very generous. Hayleigh donates 10 percent of her proceeds to organizations which support the deaf and hard of hearing.

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Hayleigh and Oticon President Peer Lauritsen in 2010 when she was honored at the 2010 Oticon Focus on People Awards (given to young people who are working to eliminate negative stereotypes).

She was super kind and generous with her time and let me interview her via email:

What inspired you to start Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms?

When I was in preschool I went to a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. I noticed how my parents, as well as many other parents, grew their children’s hair out to cover their ears. It was strange to me that a community of people who were so alike were still ashamed to even show each other their “disability” or hearing device to each other let alone to strangers. I did not like this and thought that we should show off our hearing devices by decorating them.

When I was five, I started drawing pictures of charms for hearing aids. My mom didn’t understand the drawings at first. It took time for me to interpret them to her, but by the time I was eight years old, we had created them and started the process of getting a patent for my designs. I did research to ensure that nothing like this existed for kids and adults. With my parents help, I applied for a patent from the U.S. Patent Office for my designs.

I opened an online store Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms (which has hundreds of items not on Etsy), as well as my Etsy site a few later.

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Hayleigh and her twin sister Vienna and sister Sarah create “Sister Sets” together: bracelets and necklaces that compliment the charms. You can find them here.

Wow! I am so in awe of you! How do you manage to do all of this?!

My mom, dad and my sisters help me. My twin sister Vienna makes necklaces and my sister Sarah makes bracelets so that we can make “sister sets,” which are charms, bracelets and matching necklaces. My mom helps me paint the audiology displays and package things to be mailed and my dad often drives them to the post office.

hayleigh older

Where do you plan to take your business? 

I am looking to grow my business so that my designs can work with the growing diversity of hearing devices. This would allow me to service more people and impact more of the deaf and hard of hearing communities worldwide. There is also continual growth in development of new designs for each established product (Charms, Tube Twists/Cochlear Coils, and Tube Treasures/CI Bling).

I am definitely planning to purchase more of these cuties. Here are a few I am eyeing that I know Sonya would love:

Mermaid Friends

mermaid friend charms

Bob the Builder

Bob the Builder.jpg

And of course, unicorns!

unicorn charms

Thank you, Hayleigh! You are amazing!! 

Should Your Child Wear the Aqua+ with CIs When Playing in the Water?

Summer is at its peak. Soon Sonya will spend her days at the amazing CampedUp in Manhattan, where the second half of the day, weather depending, often involves water games. When not at camp, Sonya loves to play in the many wonderful New York City playgrounds, many of which involve fountains.

While we tried to get Sonya to wear the Aqua+ sleeves when she was a baby, we found the silicone covers to be too bulky and uncomfortable. She simply won’t wear them.

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Sonya wearing the bulky Aqua+ covers when she was a baby

Our choice was either to have Sonya be without sound or allow her to keep her CIs on without the added protection and take the risk of damaging them.

The good news is, three years later, we have consistently exposed Sonya’s Nucleus 6 devices to water, and have had no issues. If the devices drop in the tub, or get significantly wet, we simply put them in the Zephyr dryer overnight.

zephyr

At a Cochlear “Back to School” event in New York City, the question of whether it was necessary to wear the Aqua+ was raised to a Cochlear employee who interestingly shared our sentiments. She discussed the fact that the Nucleus 6 processors are incredibly water resistant and  The Nucleus 7 are even more so.

According to this Cochlear employee, the Aqua+ is only necessary if the child is swimming laps, or has prolonged exposure to water. Simply playing water games, splashing in the pool or even taking a bath or shower is unlikely to affect the processors.

The bottom line is that ensuring that your child hears the many beautiful sounds of water in all of its forms far outweighs the risk of damaging the processors, which is unlikely anyways (and should be covered under the five year warranty).

So in Sonya’s words (a la Paw Patrol…) Ready Set Get Wet!

P.s. Sonya loves wearing her waterproof Rubyband headband when at the pool. You can find them here. You can also purchase swim headbands which fit the Aqua+ from Headbands for Sophia, another cochlear implant headband brand we love.

Sonya wears RubyBands Swim Band
Sonya wearing the Rubyband waterproof headband found here on Etsy

Cute Hairstyles for Cochlear Implants

When Sonya was born, my mother-in-law jokingly told me that we should shave her hair at some point to ensure it grew back thick. It’s a Russian tradition, apparently. We didn’t follow her advice, but at three, Sonya’s hair is curly and a bit wild (just like her).

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As you can probably imagine, I struggle to tame her locks every morning and given time constraints we usually go one of two routes: A top knot or pig tails:

I am especially fond of the pig tails because they enable me to do her hair while she wears at least one processor. Top of head placement (and wrapping the hair around into a little bun) seems to work best as her hair doesn’t interfere with the placement of her coils about two inches above her ears.

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We succumb to bribing Sonya with her favorite TV show Creative Galaxy, so that she allows me to comb through her tangled curls in a somewhat timely manner.

I would love to try new hairstyles for Sonya, however. Here are some ideas I love, which I think could work with her cochlear implants.

a) BANGS. I would love her to sport bangs, but her hair might not be straight or thick enough. Plus, I recently did this to myself only for her to ask me “Mom, why did you do that to your hair!?”

b) BOB. Again, not sure Sonya’s hair would lend itself to this style, but a baby with a bob is just so sweet.

bob

c) BANGS IN ELASTIC + PIG TAILS. This is so cute and easy looking, and I think would work!

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d) BANDED PIGTAILS.

banded pigtails

e) FRENCH BRAID. There is no way Sonya would have the patience to sit through this (and I am probably not skilled enough) but I do love it.

French braid

f) CROWN BRAID. Again, probably not enough hair and questionable whether the implant coils would work. But maybe I could motivate her to sit still enough to try by bribing her with Moana…..

crown braid

In other news, I have recently discovered HeadbandsforSophia on Etsy, which sells adorable headbands that are narrower and elastic and might lend themselves to additional hairstyles. I just ordered these to try.

Would love to hear your input! Vote on your favorite style and I will try it on Sonya and post the result! Do you have another option I should consider? Please leave it in the comments section below!

P.s. We also love Rubybands and wear them constantly and I wrote about hats and other accessories here and here.

UPDATE:

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Sonya opted for two french braid pigtails with barettes and to my surprise she actually let me do this! Sometimes I need to give her a little more credit.

 

 

 

 

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