Thursday, April 30, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

Today Connor had his behavioral hearing exam. We drove there with a load of stuff for the apartment in the car-- hence the giant Elmo of Doom lurking in the trunk and warning off potential tailgaters with his huge crazed eyes.

Anyway, the hearing exam did not go exactly as planned. Here's what's supposed to happen at one of these things:

The audiologist puts little plugs in Connor's ears that are attached to a sound system. An assistant has a neutral, fairly unexciting toy (in this case a duck sock puppet) that she uses to keep Connor's attention relatively up front. The audiologist uses a tone or calls Connor's name and it sounds in one of his ears. Then the assistant with the duck puppet leads Connor's view point towards the direction the sound is coming from. He turns towards the side that the sound came from, and a really exciting toy (I think it was a Pluto surrounded by Christmas lights who bangs together cymbals) lights up in response, rewarding the behavior. After associating turning towards the sound with the interesting Pluto toy, they run the test, making the tone or voice a little softer each time, and that little Pluto goes crazy every time he turns towards the sound. When Connor stops turning towards the sound, they know they've reached the threshold that he can't hear below.

Here's what actually happens at one of Connor's exams:

The audiologist puts little plugs in Connor's ears, which Connor immediately pulls out. The audiologist puts the plugs back in his ears, and I corral Connor's arms. Connor focuses for the next five minutes on getting his hands close enough to his ears to yank the plugs out again, ignoring the assistant and her boring duck sock puppet. He finally gives up and, in protest, stares at the ceiling, the walls, and anywhere he can think to look except for the boring sock puppet. The assistant finally gets out a different, more colorful and exciting toy, which he deigns to look at. The sound goes off, she attempts to lead his view towards Pluto, and he goes back to staring at the ceiling. I physically turn his head towards Pluto, who does his little dance. Connor is fascinated. He then spends the next ten minutes staring at Pluto and signing more, completely ignoring the assistant, the audiologist's voice, and my repeated attempts to get him back to mid-line. Finally convinced that Pluto will not perform on command, he goes back to staring at the ceiling and attempting to remove the plugs from his ears. Then he announces that he has to go potty.

We throw in the towel and schedule him for a sedated ABR. At the end of June.




leah said...

Argh. Well, it was worth a try- have they ever tried using Connor's earmolds instead of insert earplugs? Not that it would help greatly, but maybe he'd leave the earmolds in his ears (our audi just tucks the wiring behind the earmold to pipe in sound when Nolan won't cooperate with the earplugs).

At least the ABR will give you an unsubjective result.

Julia said...

Okay, first off I want to know how many posts you have with the label "Elmo of Doom". If this is a recurrent theme, then I'm really intrigued.

Second, you gotta be impressed. This is a child who is not only so far beyond the predicted vegetative state that it's almost hilarious, but he's manipulating his environment with a skill that is downright Machiavellian in its deviousness and effectiveness. From using his apnea alarm to summon you like his personal servant, to playing the "go potty" card at exactly the right moment -- that's what I call clever.

skeybunny said...

Evan has never had a successful behavioral hearing test either. He cries anytime he gets near one of the booths...


Anonymous said...

At least you tried.

And, one day, you'll find it very funny.

Colleen said...

Very funny! My son never responds appropriately to the behavior hearing exams. They usually use a squeaky duck, which he just ignores because he thinks it's one of his pulse-ox machines going off again.(:

Hopefully the ABR test will tell you more.

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