Update March 2005
Well, it has been a while since I have written about Elijah. I thought I would just give a synopsis of what has happened since May of 2002.
From May of 2002 until February 2003, Elijah continued to make good progress. We went in for regular mappings and hearing tests. His receptive language grew daily and we started to phase out signing. He really understood us! However, after a few months his frustration with expressive language increased. He didn't have the speech skills to communicate with us and I don't think he really understood what he needed to do to communicate.
We continued to go to AVT therapy twice a week. We decided around January 2003 to start signing with Elijah again. He didn't need it for receptive skills but he definitely needed it to help with him being able to communicate his needs to us. If he wanted something he was going to have to sign a word to get it. He, of course, didn't like this, but I could take his hands and get him to sign more than I could make him voice. He soon learned to sign simple words to get what he wanted.
In February 2003, we went in for another mapping and the audiologist decided to do NRT. His new NRT drastically changed his map. The audiologist put in the new map, but told us if it seemed to bother him to go back to another map she had put on. The new map worked well and he seemed to be fine with it.
In March 2003, we went into Calliers as part of their research study. They were doing ABRs to compare hearing children's brain waves to those of deaf children with cochlear implants. We had gone in back in July of 2002 and when they compared that testing with the testing March they were shocked. His brain waves had changed drastically, and his brain waves looked like those of a hearing child at the age of three. We were quite pleased. We also noticed that he was trying harder to communicate with both signs and voice. We had Elijah's ARD for preschool in April of 2003. We decided to put him in the Total Communication classroom in the local regional day school program for the deaf. They had an oral classroom, but we decided to go with the TC classroom. It had fewer children, and we felt it would lessen his frustration. He started on the day he turned three, April 29th. He went to school through May and also received summer services in June. Around this time I bought some videos from Signing Time, that had children signing in them. I think between school starting and us working with him harder at home something clicked. He started to understand that things had NAMES and that if he communicated effectively it was easier to get what he wanted.
Elijah went back to school in August of 2003 in the TC classroom. He had a very good year. We saw an increase in his language development in both sign and speech. He was a bit of a handful though. We had a lot of issues with behavior. The teacher worked very hard with him as we did at home. Most of it was following directions and easing transition time. We had Elijah's ARD in March 2004 and decided he should go to the oral classroom for the next school year. The teacher said he rarely watched them when they signed and didn't use sign much to communicate with them. The small classroom and signing did help during that year, but he was ready for this new move.
Elijah continued to do well at home both receptively and expressively with language. We did a lot of TALKING at home and required him to talk to get things. We didn't just accept one words requests but worked on longer and longer sentences. It took a lot of time and patience, but it was working. We also worked on a lot of listening activities that are AVT gave us.
We were also investigating going bilateral with Elijah. Our ENT wasn't prepared to implant at this time, due to his lack of cooperation in the booth. He couldn't really tell us what he was hearing (he was now 4 years old) and his behavior was also an issue. He also didn't have as big a vocabulary so some of the listening tests were difficult. The ENT said that Elijah would eventually go bilateral just not at this time. It was very frustrating. We had a great summer. Elijah went to Cochlear Camp here in the Dallas area. It was a day camp. He did fairly well, but again his behavior was an issue. I had to go and stay the last day. He didn't like following the directions and that activities changed from day to day. He was a child who really needed and still needs routine. The camp was good for him though and I noticed that he would say, "I hear it," a lot more when were out and heard new things.
I remember one day that Fall he ran in from outside playing in the backyard and said "Momma, I hear it, I hear it, the fire truck." I could hear the sirens in the distance. Elijah started off school in the oral classroom that Fall also. I was very upfront with the teacher and told her he needed routine. I also told her that he had an one and a half hour bus ride, and so he really needed some "run around" time when he arrived at school. I also suggested a behavior chart. It was something his teacher did last year. A list of the day's activities were on it, and he got "happy" face for good behavior and a "sad" face for unacceptable behavior. He had consequences at school(recess time taken away etc…) and at home. This really helped him to control himself. His new teacher was great and started off with the chart. He had some sad faces in the beginning, but soon we had almost all happy faces. The oral classroom has made huge difference. He really started talking so much more. It was a bit frustrating at first his teacher told me, but he was keeping up. We were also continuing our efforts on getting Elijah a second implant. The audiologist finally let us have a hearing aid trial on his unimplanted ear in Sept. 2004. He wore the hearing aid and I do think it did help him localize sound. About a week after he started wearing it, I took off his CI. I covered my mouth and said "baa baa" he repeated it. I also said "Elijah" and he said baa baa….so he was hearing, but not understanding what he was hearing.
Elijah was doing great with his current CI. He could follow multiple step directions… "go to your room, and get your cup" and things like that. He was also doing well with expressive language. His vocabulary was well over 200 words when I stopped counting in the summer of 2004. He was also learning words more quickly. It used to take a week of me using a new word for him to learn it, but now he was learning in just a day or so.
In November of 2004, our audiologist submitted he paperwork to our insurance company for Elijah to get a second CI. The Monday after Thanksgiving I received a letter from the insurance company saying it was approved. I faxed it to our ENT's office and surgery was scheduled for Dec. 22nd!
I now wish I had done a better job of documenting Elijah progress. He was now speaking in sentences of 3-5 words. His vocabulary was ever expanding. We now just had to wait for this second surgery and keep him healthy.