After our move to North Carolina, Bob took his son back to New Orleans and spent a week or so there finishing up some repairs on the house before closing. I was in a strange place with two toddlers and didn't know how to get anywhere. It was very stressful! I had taken a full time nursing job so Bob had to hurry back so I could start my job. We spent the holidays away from our family. This was the first time ever for me to not be at my Grandmothers in 30 years and that was very difficult. The boys were also having a hard time adjusting to being away from people they knew. The hardest thing may have been that we left nearly 5 acres with a fenced yard where they could roam around and play. Now, we were in a second story apartment with no yard. I know I was not that happy with it.
In January, after all the paperwork was completed, Jake started the Cued Speech Oral Auditory program (CSOAP) preschool two half days a week. He was so eager to learn and seemed to like the teachers, assistants, and speech therapist. Soon he was attending the classes each day they were held. We began learning all the tedious things we had to know to communicate with Jake. You never realize how easily hearing children pick up language until you have a hearing impaired child and find it necessary to purposefully teach them each word. It was quite overwhelming for our entire family with so many changes in such a short time. But despite that fact, Jake did well.
The school used Cued Speech, but also worked on listening skills and use what is commonly called a sandwich approach in which they would cover the mouth, say the sound and give Jake the hand cue to repeat it. If he did not they would either repeat the sound with mouth covered or cue it and give him the hand cue to repeat it again. He learned his 'Learning to Listen' sounds in less than six months and was progressing fairly well in sound production. He could repeat the Ling sounds with fairly good approximation. He progressed slowly but there was improvement in his speech production and his understanding of the cues.
In March of 1996, he had his first audiogram and OAE testing since we had relocated. At this time, we found that he had absent Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions and his pure tone audiogram now plotted out as a severe to profound loss in the left and a severe loss in the right. We were told that it appeared that he had a plain old sensorineural hearing loss and needed to be fit with stronger hearing aids. We were under the impression that because he no longer had OAE's he was just a regular deaf kid after that visit. In April 1996, he was fit with bilateral Phonic Ear FreeEar PE700R BTE hearing aids with built in personal FM system. His first aided audiogram showed his hearing to be well within the speech range. Everyone was very impressed with the Initial Duke Audiological Testing.
With the seemingly excellent aided audiogram, it was suggested that we use auditory verbal therapy (AVT) in our daily sessions with Jake. He appeared to do well with his target sounds at home, but just wasn't progressing like he was expected to. At school he had great difficulty producing the sounds, which didn't make sense to me. As I reviewed video tapes of our sessions, I found that I wasn't covering my mouth well when I gave the target sounds and he was actually reading my lips. That explained the difference in his performance at school and at home. I sometimes got the feeling that the teachers thought I was crazy when I spoke of things he had said at home. And then there were the you must be nuts looks I got when I mentioned that Jake had a hearing moment and responded to things that we didn't expect him to. You could always tell the times his hearing seemed to be better, he could repeat four to five words back to you through audition alone. That wasn't something he was able to do all the time. There were also the times that he answered me when he had his hearing aids off and his back to me. I wondered sometimes if I really was losing it because they kept telling me that it wasn't possible for what I said to be happening.