I’ve had the first month completed, and it has been like nothing I have experienced before. Speech therapy only went so far..and now I am training myself to HEAR. Wait.. What do you mean HEAR? Yeah, that was a new concept for me too, as wasn’t I already hearing things? After the first session four weeks ago though, I understood. Speech therapy taught me how to speak, and get as close as I could to the sounds of speech, vowels, consonants, blends, and digraphs. Added benefit, was that I learned to read in quick order too, after all, it was nothing more than Phonics. But I wasn’t strong enough to consistently recognize what I heard, and filled the gaps using lip reading, logic, guesswork, and context. I was pretty successful at it, and fooled many people into thinking I was hearing, with a French or British accent.
What speech therapy didn’t do was train me to hear those components of speech. Really. Why not? I suspect that at the time, in 1975, that what we know as Auditory Verbal Therapy was not in existence, or so new, no one really knew anything about it. What AVT does is train you to distinguish and identify sounds, whether in speech or environmental sounds around you. It is a long process, and really has only become widely used in recent years, and is not unlike the process a child undergoes in their first years of life. I imagine that had I had this training, I’d have surpassed even my own successes.
So hear I am, implanted 18 months, learning to HEAR. Wow. It has been illuminating, discovering what I could distinguish and identify. For example, the LING sounds of: ah, mm, oo, ee, sh, and s basically are the foundations of the families of sounds. The others are off shoots, and part of those families. My daughter and partner are my listening coaches and I’ve learned that some sounds and words are more easily identified by one over the other. I also noticed I am very inconsistent, even with the almost daily practice using some iPad apps. Yet in four weeks, I have made some progress. It isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, yet I have learned much about my listening style and coping strategies. Strategies that I must now learn NOT to rely on, and in fact, forget about them altogether. I was chastised by both my coaches that I was using memory, logic, and elimination far too much. They were trying to trip me up on purpose, strictly to get me to just LISTEN. Of course, I thought I was listening.
Being told I was using my memory forced me to acknowledge that I rely far too much on the coping strategies I developed years ago to handle conversations, both face to face or on the phone. The end result was that my brain dictated what I comprehended, and I filled the rest in on my own. My therapist said I was clearly a strong lipreader, and had strong coping skills. Skills that certainly help, but were not useful in HEARING.
I practice my homework when I can, but I have also found several apps on the iPad that have augmented my practice. They are:
For children: for speech practice
And for fun, to test your hearing:
I encourage you to try these apps, and get a sense of what AVT is, and possibly an understanding of what it is like to be Deaf, and what is truly involved for me to be able to succeed in the hearing world.