Today Charlie and I had a meeting with 2 audiologist, the cochlear implant representative and his hearing therapist. The meeting was set up several months ago to brainstorm ways to tell if an implant is working when a kid is unable to communicate. Normally with an implant the person goes back to the audiologist several times to fine tune the volume or programming so it isn't too loud and distorted or too soft to hear. Char just likes to complicate things. From testing we knew the implant was sending the signal to the auditory nerves but the test that records if the signal was reaching the brain had been negative. When that test was done I was reassured that it is negative in about 10% of people that can hear just fine but it still didn't give us what we were looking for. We didn't know if the signal was making it to the brain and if so did Char's brain even know what to do with that kind of information.
A few weeks ago, during Char's hearing therapy sessions with his Angel's we started seeing more and more responses to extremely loud sounds. At first they were very infrequent responses and hard to reproduce. He might occasionally blink or flutter his eyes when the fog horn or diesel truck horn (thanks Sammy) was blown, or perhaps stop moving his arms when the pots and pans were being banged together right by his ear, or widen his eyes when the synthesizer (thanks Troy) was played at maximum volume. Then we started to see more and more of these but only to loud sustained noises. With this new info the audiologists reprogrammed his implant. Mike the rep, turned the implant on as high as it could go and Charlie gave subtle but definite responses to nearly every test sound. He said some kids cry at this level but Char was all smiles. We were all really excited.
For the next 30 min we discussed how to keep the implant on his head now that he moves his head back and forth so much. The magnet strength was increased to the maximum with the caution to watch diligently for skin breakdown. He may be trying out quite an array of headdresses to keep it in place. Next time you see him you can comment on how good it looks and he might even hear you . :)