Neave turned one a few weeks ago on 23 September - a significant milestone in our family - and it feels like a good time to send an update about her progress to mark this moment. Since I last wrote, she has had her second operation and 'switch on' for her left ear in June. So she's now wearing two sound processors, increasing her access to sound and language 'in stereo'. She's even wearing her waterproof ears in the bath now, so is enjoying hearing splashes and water filling the bath.
Neave is now one year old but her 'ears' are only 8 months old, about which I keep needing to remind myself. She is making good steady progress and Mark and I feel that, over the past few weeks, every few days Neave is showing us something new.
In early September, Neave started repeating sounds she was hearing. One of the first sounds she repeated was 'lala', and Lyra was delighted, because this is Neave's name for her. She also makes a sound for the microwave beeping. She's tuned in to both voices and environmental sounds now, which is great. Initially she was more tuned into voices, but now her sound bubble seems to have widened.
She's started waving goodbye and says 'dye dye' for 'bye bye', and she's clapping her hands in response to the verbal instruction 'clap hands'. This feels really significant, as she isn't following a visual cue, but rather understanding the words. You can see her clapping hands on this video: https://youtu.be/3vKtRBJyRaQ
. She also gives her toys a cuddle, when you say 'cuddle' and she repeats the pattern of my voice when I say it (see the cuteness here: https://youtu.be/5Fl3fuqabpA). And yesterday morning, for the first time, she started saying 'up up up' as she was crawling up the stairs. Very exciting! She's also starting to make some animal sounds, which is just wonderful to hear. Her first sound was a roar for lion (see video here: https://youtu.be/bmP76NWKufM), and as a result she had a lion birthday cake, which she appropriately roared to. She's also making pig grunts, 'ssss' for snake (watch here: https://youtu.be/GmTvc7UIeNE), 'mmmm' for cow, 'tee tee' for 'tweet tweet', and says 'du du' for duck.
Her babbling is also developing and I was over the moon on Sunday as she said a nice long 'mamamama' for the first time. And she's said it a few more times since! Her favourite babble is still 'dadadada' though! Her sounds are becoming more varied, which is lovely.
Our wonderful audiologist Surida recently did a 6 month hearing test on Neave's. right 'ear' and 3 month check on her left 'ear'. She's showing behavioural responses to sound and voices at 20 decibels, which Surida is happy with. My understanding is that for hearing people we would hear between 10-15 decibels, and for cochlear implant recipients 20 decibels is considered good. I just found an information sheet online from one of the cochlear implant companies that states, 'Persons with thresholds of 20 decibels or below are considered to have normal hearing'. So, we are pleased with the results. Barbara, our fabulous speech therapist, continues to provide weekly support and she even did a home visit a couple of weeks ago, which was great as Mark was able to participate in the session.
It is amazing to reflect on 'this time last year' and think about how we didn't even yet know the full extent of Neave's hearing loss. Those weeks following her birth were very difficult with so much uncertainty and anxiety about her future. Of course there is still uncertainty, but there is also so much progress to be seen and we are delighting in every single new sound and indication of her understanding. There is much to celebrate and be thankful for. We've seen so much rapid progress in the last 5 weeks, and we are so excited to see the results as Neave soaks up the sounds and communicates with us more and more.
Thanks for celebrating her progress with us!