Where’s The Ball?

I have struggled to find any downside to what Alice has achieved so far since her switch on. Her language and comprehension have come on infinitely faster than we ever hoped for. At her 6 month post-switch-on review, Alice received glowing reports from her TODs and SLTs. We are happy parents.

After our last appointment at AV, we have been tasked with introducing more verbs to Alice’s vocabulary so she can begin to make sentences from the countless nouns she now knows. In true AV fashion, this involves finding books and games which pose a ‘problem’ (AV are very big on problems). For example, one little book Alice has tells the story of a little boy looking in all the places around Grandma’s farm for some eggs. Behind every door is another animal, but no eggs, so every page is introduced with “where ‘s the eggs?”. Alice, being the bright spark she is, picked this up very quickly and now spends her days wandering around the house looking for things..stopping..shrugging her shoulders..and pronouncing “where’s the ball, mouse, dog, cat mummy, daddy etc.” (delete as appropriate).  I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but there are only so many times in the day you can be asked “Where’s the ball” before you start going mad. The irony is not lost on me. I need to teach her something else to say soon or I think it’s the asylum for me.

I have to say that AV has been a revelation to us. We have ditched all Alice’s other formal SLT in favour of their approach. Everyone we have met there has been an inspiration and the progress Alice has made since starting there has, in our eyes at least, been prolific. Never expect AV to tell you that you are doing brilliantly – there’s always that sense that there is more you could do. They set their sights very high and expect every child to progress well. Herein lies one of the key differences with their approach. Most other SLTs we have met take a much more ‘gently gently’ approach to SLT. AV don’t accept second best. They are the only people who expect Alice to catch up with her hearing peers in very short order, rather than hope that she will. And there’s the difference – hope versus expectation. It’s not for everyone, but for us and, most importantly Alice, it is a blessing.

New Ear

I am not normally one to keep up with the times when it comes to gadgets. I made that mistake once, paying thousands and thousands of pounds for a plasma television just before everybody decided LCDs were better and a quarter of the price. Never again I said to myself.

Mind you, when it comes to little Alice, I would happily bankrupt myself if I thought it would help.

By a twist of fate – probably partly our fault for pushing so hard to get Alice’s implant date brought forward – about 2 months after her surgery, Cochlear, the makers of Alice’s implant, released their new implant and processor – the dynamically named ‘Nucleus 5’. After 5 years of the original Nucleus 24, Cochlear had refined a lot of the teething problems with the old unit and, most importantly, made it smaller – about half the size in total.

Alice is ‘entitled’ (I use that word very carefully) to a new processor, funded by the NHS, about every 5 years. 5 years is a long time to wait.

I had the luck to see and handle one of the new processors last week when Alice was at St. George’s for a new map. Within minutes I was on the phone to Alice’s Mummy saying ‘ we need to find £6,000’. Find it we did – in no small part through the generosity of Papa and Grandma. So in about two weeks time, Alice will have a new, shiny, smaller, better gadget. Nothing but the best. Fortunately, the new processor is fully compatible with Alice’s implant, so no need for more surgery – that would be a step too far.

Managing to convince Alice’s Mummy to part with £6,000 we don’t have was a little tricky. That said, as soon as I pointed out that it would mean Alice would have a spare speech processor, should Mummy  ever choose to lose it again, she was sold.

All very exciting

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