May Patient Spotlight: Dylan
When Dylan failed his newborn hearing screening test, his mother, Jammie, kept thinking there must be a mistake with the test. Dylan was born a full term baby via C-section with no history of hearing loss in the family. The doctor informed them that the test could be a mistake due to fluid in the ears that remains when a child is born via C-section. When the test was repeated he failed again. Jammie didn’t want to believe it and was so worried about what his life would be like. She thought he would have to use sign language and would not be able to call her “Mom.” After about six months and several hearing tests later Dylan was confirmed to be profoundly deaf in both ears. Jammie kept thinking “This is not possible. This shouldn’t be happening to my baby boy! What in the world am I going to do?”
Tell us more about your child’s story.
The Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor told us about cochlear implants. We did lots of research. It was a big surgery and he would have to wear external devices. Surely with all the technology there could be an all internal device. Would he be bullied and made fun of at school?? It was very hard to turn off my emotions at this time, especially because he was he was so little. I just kept telling myself “He’ll be able to call me Mom and hear me talk to him.” His cochlear implant surgery should have been at 12 months of age, however, insurance denied his surgery and his current physician thought it would be a difficult battle. Suddenly we were left with nothing. We didn’t know where to turn. The Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs called and talked with me. The lady told me that her daughter had a cochlear implant and recommended a physician in Louisville. We scheduled an appointment. After seeing the physician the insurance approved his surgery within six weeks. It was amazing what a difference the physician made. His experience with cochlear implants and dealing with insurance companies made the difference. However, Dylan was now 20 months old. Already delayed, and now further delayed. After receiving his implant he started turning his head toward sounds. He started babbling and saying “mama” and “dada.” It was the sweetest words in the world. At age 4, Dylan attended the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center Preschool and Kindergarten. We lived in Pikeville, KY and decided he needed the extra help to prepare for school. I rented an apartment in Lexington and Dylan went to school while his Dad stayed at home to work. We continued driving back and forth to Louisville for doctor visits and programming of the cochlear implant. So we decided to move closer to the area. Eventually, we settled in Shelbyville, KY. Dylan is in public school and is able to hear and talk. He does have some delays with speech and language but he has made wonderful progress. My biggest complaint now is for him to take his headphones off. Believe it or not, they make cords and blue tooth technology that links the cochlear implant directly to his phone and iPad. Now he can’t hear me because he always has the phone or iPad hooked to his cochlear implants!
Why did you choose APT for therapy services?
I chose APT because the focus on children made me comfortable. They offer very experienced therapists close to home. It was very convenient for after school appointments and the therapist made my shy, reserved and anxious son feel eager to go back each and every visit. I felt like they wanted to see him improve. We are always greeted with a smile when we walk in the door. The immense progress that Dylan has made has left the impression on me that APT is not just a good place to go, but it is the best place to go when searching for a facility for your child to bring him/her to the next level.
What improvements have you seen in your child since they started therapy at APT?
Dylan improves his vocabulary everyday. He has met a lot of his objectives. He has been working on articles, possessives, and noun-verb agreement. He works on critical thinking skills and problem solving and inferring in speech therapy. He works on valuable things to improve his test taking strategies. He is very social with adults. He has more difficulty socializing with peers.
What has been your brightest moment along the journey?
Definitely when he responded to sounds and said “Mama” and “Dada.”
What advice would you give other parents who face similar situations?
Act early! As a parent, we want our children to be able to develop to their full potential. If you’ve just discovered your child is deaf or has a hearing loss, it can be devastating. It needn’t be. With the right treatment early in life, most children with hearing loss will hear again or for the very first time and grow up normally. The earlier the better because it gives your child the best chance of developing critical speech, language and communication skills.
Speech Therapist, Shanna Case, sees Dylan at APT. We asked her to share a little about their journey with him.
How long have you been working with Dylan and what improvements have you seen?
Shanna: When Dylan first came to speech therapy, we focused on working on his speech sound production and his ability to sequence syllables in multiple syllable words. We wanted to start of by focusing on increasing his speech so he could be successful in communicating with his peers and family. At first, we focused on words with 2-3 syllables and his /r/, /l/, /l/ blends, and /th/ sounds. Dylan made quick progress in his ability to hear the difference between correct and incorrect productions in his speech and in others. He was very responsive to cues and prompts. This helped him to make quick progress with his /l/ and /l/ blends sounds and production of 2-3 syllable words. Sometimes, he would get a little frustrated because he was tired at the end of the day. But, I always reminded him of his end goal, and why he was working on his sounds, and that helped to motivate him. I am so proud of him. He has worked hard and is now able to produce /l/, /th/ and /r/ sounds in words, sentences, and structured conversation. Currently we continue to work on words with 4-5 syllables and sequencing of sounds in connected speech. He has made great improvements in structured therapy tasks. To help with carryover and increased awareness, we are working on increasing his own self-monitoring skills in conversation for words with multiple parts and for increased speech precision. Overall, he has shown great progress in his overall ability to self-monitor his productions during our therapy sessions. In addition to working on his speech sound productions, we have worked on Dylan’s ability to form questions, use grammatical markers (plurals, past tense, and possessives), and his ability to comprehend a variety of sentence structures. One of the first things we ever worked on in therapy was his ability to produce a variety of question forms. He has made great progress and is now great at asking questions. He comes in each session and asks me many questions about my week or weekend. I enjoy our conversations at the start of therapy. You would never know that this was an area that he use to struggle with. He is always impressing me with his great questions! Currently, we continue to work on his ability to comprehend complex sentences in stories and his ability to use grammatical markers in his own sentence productions. We use some of his favorite creatures to motivate him; each week I learn about a new creature. It adds an element of fun to each of our sessions. Now, he is able to show comprehension of a variety of complex sentence forms in isolation. As he has progressed, we have begun to work on comprehension of grammar in stories and his ability to retell stories and story details. We work on memory tasks and on his ability to self-monitor his active listening skills to assist. Sometimes I may have to give him the extra nudge to try when he is tired at the end of the day. Story retelling is not his favorite thing to work on. We try to keep it fun and interesting by choosing topics and stories that appeal to him. All in all, Dylan is a fun client to work with in therapy and works hard during our time to make progress towards his goals.
Describe a little about yours and Dylan’s relationship.
Shanna: Dylan and I have a developed a great therapeutic relationship. Each week, he comes in and tells me about his week and asks me about mine. He loves to tell me about new stories he has heard over the week. Dylan loves to play the card game War and to play UNO. He often beats me at the games each week. One of my favorite things about Dylan is that he really enjoys writing sentences and telling stories about various creatures, such as Big Foot. He comes in each session and tells me about a new creature he has heard of or read about. To help motivate him, we often make up our own creatures during therapy. We have come up with a whole arsenal of creatures during our time together.