I will repeat what I just wrote in an email to a fellow ClubMom blogger whose toddler son, the delicious Noah (over whom I have drooled in person), is going through the same Early Intervention evaluation process Wonderboy went through a couple of years ago. Noah has been diagnosed with speech delay, and I feel a bizarre and probably obnoxious urge to welcome Amy to the club. She mentioned on her blog that although they think hearing loss is not likely in his case, Noah will be undergoing a diagnostic hearing screen soon, to be safe.
And that prompted me to spout forth a great deal of unsolicited advice about how to get most out of a toddler hearing screen. Then it occurred to me that that’s what ClubMom is paying me for, to spout forth unsolicited advice on this here blog. So spout I shall.
When Wonderboy was an infant, his hearing tests were the auditory brainstem kind I wrote about here. But once he was a year old and had his hearing aids, his periodic testing shifted to a sound booth. Kids with aids need testing on a regular basis, to make sure the settings are right. As the child gets older and more responsive in the booth, the audiologist can better fine-tune the settings.
For a child under four, the big challenge of the sound booth hearing test is understanding what the audiologist wants him to do. Typically, the child will be in the booth with a parent or the audiologist’s assistant. The audi is behind a window, pushing buttons on her fancy machine. The child (or his helper) holds a toy or block up to his ear, and he’s
wearing little earplugs that pipe in sound, and when he hears a sound
he’s supposed to put the block in a basket or something. Then a little
monkey* in the corner bangs a toy drum and FREAKS HIM OUT. At
least that’s how it goes with Wonderboy. The drum-banging is supposed to be the payoff
for responding to the sound but Wonderboy suspects the monkey wants to eat
*(Sometimes the monkey is a rabbit.)
I don’t know why they never tell you in advance, but you can help this test go
much better by doing some prep work. You can play the
hold-the-block-to-your-ear-and-slam-dunk-it-when- I-go-beep game at home to get
him used to how the whole thing works. It’s good to hold a card or
something in front of your
mouth so he has to listen for the beep instead of watching you open
your mouth. Also try it with shhhh and ssss sounds, and clicks, and whispering of all sorts.
The first time we did this kind of hearing screen, it was a
big waste of time because Wonderboy didn’t know what to do. The audiologist
told me no worries, the first time is mainly to train the child to do
the test and we should come back next week. I wanted to scream because Scott had lost half a day of work to take care of the other kids so I could go to this appointment, and now
we were going to have to repeat the whole process. I would have had Wonderboy practice, had I but known. (Had I but known Google Reader.)
Say! I don’t think I ever showed you my snazzy blue ear molds. And after my nutty mother made you look at all those How Ear Molds Are Made pictures and everything!
She is perched beside me, eating a bowl of Life cereal. We are enjoying a peaceful lull between waves of happy chaos: the utterly fantastic week-long visit with our beloved Virginia Joneses (or Jonesii, as Scott calls them) and a still-in-the-planning stages rendezvous with the Cottage Clan.
(Beanie: "Mommy, did you know whales nurse their babies?")
Our Jonesii visit passed all too quickly, a delicious blur of San Diego sightseeing, cinnamon bear devouring, Settlers of Catan playing, sandwich making, late-night giggling, air mattress bouncing, sunscreen slathering, ant battling, and talking, talking, talking. The six girls (her three, my three) managed to share four mattresses and a futon in one room for eight nights without mishap, which is a notable achievement, if you ask me.
(Beanie: "I’m afraid you will be sad to hear that I poked my stomach on the corner of the table. But don’t worry, I’m OK.")
There is tons to write about last week, but I don’t know when it will happen. This is one of the busiest Augusts we’ve ever had. Our globe-trotting friend Keri will return to the States next week, and we get her first. If you want lots of visits from friends, San Diego is the place to reside, let me tell you!
(Beanie, who is now interlocking arms with me as I type and she reads 1001 Bugs to Spot: "I can tell you a lot about honeybees, you know.")
Travel seems to have been the theme for this year of my family’s life. We’ve hung breathlessly on Keri’s adventures and Alice’s. We made our own epic journey and have had a glorious time exploring this new frontier. More adventures await—some this very day, in fact. I’m off to prepare…but in the interest of leaving you with something useful, here’s a post I wrote a long while back about how even when we were stuck at home for a long time during Wonderboy’s precarious infancy, we managed to make many circuits of the globe in the company of a charming flagbearer named Mr. Putty.
Recently the kids and I hit upon a new idea that has brought an extra
layer of interest and mirth to our morning read-aloud sessions. We
decided to make a little marker that we could move around the globe to
the location of each story we’re reading. We started with a little blob
of blue putty—you know, the kind that was supposed to hold our timeline
to the wall without marking up the paint. It didn’t. Instead, it seems
to travel all around the house in the busy fingers of my children.
Well, now it travels around the globe. A little piece of it, at
least. Such a simple idea, and such fun! Yesterday Mr. Putty began (as
he always does) here in Virginia; hopped over to Palestine; sojourned
down to Egypt; zipped to Italy to visit St. John Bosco; flew back
across the Atlantic to New England, where Robert Frost was picking
apples; escaped to Germany to avoid hearing my children mangle the
language in our sitting room; reunited with us in Greenland, where a
windswept traveler was regaling the household of Eric the Red with
tales of a new land to the west; hurried to Scandinavia, arriving just
in time to see some strange folks pop out of the armpit of Ymir the
frost giant; and there he lingered for the rest of the day.
The girls take turns assisting Mr. Putty with his travels. (Beanie
often has to be dissuaded from allowing him to visit her grandparents
in Colorado instead of venturing to his next book-inspired rendesvous.)
At some point, our intrepid explorer sprouted a tiny American flag
(complete with gold-painted toothpick flagpole) from the top of his
blobby self. While I’m a little uncomfortable with the imperial
overtones of such an adornment—Mr. Putty is, in effect, planting the
U.S. flag in the soil of countries all over the world—it does make it
easier to see where he’s stuck himself now. And it’s such a sweet
Dear Mr. Putty! I wonder where in the world he’ll go today?