Writing this over a week and a half after the fact, but better late than never.
Alex had his first mapping session last Wednesday. Basically, the mapping process is where they adjust the settings of the speech processor to deliver different amounts of signal to the individual electrodes of the implants, which themselves represent certain frequencies. Shorter version: the sound gets customized to Alex.
The mapping process was yet another straightforward process that I thought would be more complicated. Essentially, our audi picked out six of the electrodes to customize for Alex, which were spread out across the 22 electrode spectrum. She would then go through each one of those electrodes and raise the amount of input / volume until Alex had a reaction, which for him was typically a sour face followed by a mini crying session. Once he did that, the audi would back the sound off immediately but make note of where the signal was that made him react. The process was repeated for both ears.
She explained to us that during our next mapping session, she would do the same thing for another five or six electrodes. Eventually, we’ll have all of his electrodes mapped to his specific response levels, and then it’ll just be a matter of tweaking.
Now, on top of all of this, we’re also still in the process of gradually raising the raw amount of input that Alex is getting. Our audi loaded the new maps onto Alex’s speech processors and gave us four programs to advance him to, same as last time. Our goal is to get him to program four by Sunday, then he has another mapping session on the following Wednesday.
The only other two things that I can think of from that session were that our audi was already working on getting an FM system for Alex, which is HUGELY appreciated because we’ll actually own it ourselves whereas many other parents don’t get to use one until their kids go off to school, and even then, the school would own it. If we have an FM System of our own, we can use it for noisier situations like car rides, loud restaurants, etc. It’ll be a great tool to have handy. The second thing was that our audi had never seen the Hearing Henry headband that we’re using with Alex, and she was impressed enough with it that she wanted to get some information on it so that she could request that each new child who comes through the Early Intervention program might be able to get one. I definitely dug the thought that we might have put something in motion that will help other parents / kids going through the same thing after us.
That’s it for the mapping session.
In terms of day-to-day, not too much has changed. We get a few more sound reactions from Alex, but they’re still pretty sparse at this point – maybe three or four a day. It seems that our best chance in getting a reaction is still to try to say something loud toward him when he’s in a quiet environment. I’m not close to being nervous yet since research has revealed that you don’t start to get those “I can hear!” reactions consistently for months, so at this point I’m happy that we’re getting any of those moments. Still just feeling very grateful that his hearing age is no longer sitting at zero.
The equipment still hasn’t been tough to deal with given the headband approach, at all. Still much easier compared to what we dealt with with the hearing aids. Again, have to credit the headband for that, because it makes it easy to put them on, to keep them on, and to keep track of. His batteries seem to only drop to a little less than 50% even at the end of the day when they’ve been on all day, so no issues there. At the end of the night, I take Alex up to bed with his processors still on, tuck him in, and only then take the headband off. I then swap out the batteries that have been charged into the processors and put the ones that were being used into the charger, then he’s basically ready to go the next day. Easy.
Next time I write I’ll tackle how daycare and recent therapies have gone.
But overall, it’s been pretty manageable. Kid is still a champ.