Progress Report

I’ve been doing auditory verbal therapy since October, however I had been forced due to illness and bad weather conditions, plus holiday closures, to not travel for my sessions for the past month and half. So what did I do to keep things going?

It wasn’t easy, headaches and illness made me disinclined to wear the processor. But when I did, I continued working on my iPad on the Auditory Verbal Therapy app, Hear Coach, Bitsboard Pro, AB’s ABLE app, along with a few preschool listening apps. I also spent time listening to music. There were also times when I watched movies without captions, on CinemaNow (on the PS3), which made me focus on the dialogue.

My coach though, has been too tired most nights to do his part when our son was in bed and finally asleep (usually after ten p.m.). Incredibly though, our son has filled in the gaps. Part of the AVT training is training the brain to listen for sounds, so by listening to our toddler, and trying to understand him, I was actually getting coaching from him. I’ve picked up on his new words, his new attempts, and our nap and bedtimes focus a lot on vocabulary with his books. I’m trying to teach him the word mime right now and it’s funny to see and hear him say mineinstead.

So when I finally went back last week for a session with a friend along for the ride, I felt guilty that the practice had been so sporadic, that my use of the processor was minimal. Despite that though, I was still getting 100% on the review of what we had been working on, and my biggest issue, as my friend noticed, was second guessing my first instincts the more we practiced. It was amazing to me that she picked up on that because we’ve only known each other about three years or so I think, and while she knew me fairly well, we spend more time chatting online than in person.

My friend came away with a better understanding not only of how things are for me, but the work it takes for me to understand speech and the sounds around me. She also began to understand why I seemed so antisocial at times at the gatherings we’ve attended. A side benefit for her as a parent, she gained a better understanding of how hard it is for our children to develop speech.

So after observing for awhile, she willingly participated in a couple of exercises with me. One was a themed phone exercise of scheduling an appointment to see a professor regarding an essay grade. She went into another office and we used the office phones to do the exercise, and we both had an “agenda” to refer to. Generally with my hearing aid, these phones aren’t good enough for me to use as they are the older models. However, with the cochlear implant, I’ve done these exercises with my therapist, daughter and now my friend and each time, I’ve managed to get about 97-99% of the conversation. Granted knowing the context makes a huge difference, but so does knowing the person’s voice and speech patterns. I had never held a phone conversation with my friend, so this was our first one. Not to toot my own horn or sound too braggy, but I must, because there was only onesentence she had to help me work through and decipher. Needless to say, I was pretty pleased when she said I blew her away.

During the drive there and back we delved into a lot of the issues I have, and my experiences. We talked about what I’ve learned in the past few months, as well as some of my posts and my frustrations with some of my friends about their view of me. She said that more of my friends should come and participate at my sessions because it would illuminate the issues better, and perhaps dispel some of the misperceptions people had of me.

For me, I went home happy that despite not really working hard in the last month, I still made progress, and am now starting to pick up other softer sounds of speech, like p, b, ch, and blends. It made me realize just how much my toddler is actually helping me, because ironically, he is trying to say much of the same speech sounds I am trying to learn to hear. Funny where you find a coach in the most unexpected of ways, and I certainly never anticipated how much coaching I would be getting from my two and half year old. Timing certainly is everything, and I think starting the AVT when I did, turned out to be perfect timing because that’s when his own speech started to explode.

So for those of you newly activated, remember to look around and realize where your training is coming from in addition to the active work listening to audiobooks, or the various apps, sites we have available to us to use. Realize that in listening to music and familiar songs,in watching television and movies, with or without captions, in listening to our children or grandchildren, that we are actually learning to actively listen on a daily basis to the world around us.

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