Thursday, 26 April 2012

#R2BC A Different Child

Today I took my 5yr old daughter to hospital for a check-up following her grommet operation a few months ago (See Happy Patient). She was excited about going to hospital, but I think she thought she was going to stay there as she was very upset that after her operation she wasn't kept overnight!

She had her hearing test and she co-operated fully with them. Last year, when we started this journey and discovered she had poor hearing, she wouldn't co-operate at all with the hearing test and there was talk of giving her a hearing aid to see if it made a difference with her hearing, but thankfully a different audiologist managed to get a hearing test off her using a wand-like machine, but no one had been able to get her to wear headphones and test her ears individually, but today they did!!!

Afterwards we saw a ENT consultant and he told me she had passed her hearing test with flying colours. He checked her ears and said the grommets were still there, in the correct places and were obviously still doing their job. He then asked me if I had noticed a change in her since the operation, to which I replied "She's a different child!"

To understand my comment I need to go back a few years... DD2 has always been a shy child, but as her older sister was I wasn't worried too much. She is also quite small for her age, so we would forget how old she actually was and we would baby her, especially as she was our baby for the first 3 years! 

As she got older I got a little bit worried about her speech, but since her older sister has a SLI (speech and Language Impairment) I wasn't sure if I was concerned because of her sister, or not concerned when I should be as I understood her. 

When she started playschool at 3 I began to notice that outside of the house, DD2 would not utter a word! Not even to me! At home she would chatter away, but as soon as she left the house she would clam up. Her playschool teacher actually asked me if she spoke at home, because she didn't utter a single word whilst at playschool, but then I wasn't too concerned as DD1 never spoke at playschool either, but she soon started chatting when she started the nursery class at school. She soon made friends with my best friends daughter who then asked if DD2 could go for lunch and play with her daughter, so I sent her. When she came home my friend (who DD2 has known all her life) told me that she hadn't uttered a word, not even whilst playing with her daughter. 

She soon left playschool and started the nursery class at school and I hoped she would be like her sister, who started chatting away within her first week, but DD2 was still refusing to speak outside of the house, although she would talk at nanny and granddad's house. 

By now I was beginning to get worried that DD2 was suffering from Selective Mutism which is an anxiety disorder where a child will refuse to talk in certain situations (like outside the house) when they are able to talk. It's not that a child is being naughty and deliberately refusing to talk, and often they do want to talk but cannot because of the anxiety they are suffering from.  So I decided to refer her to speech therapy and I spoke to DD1's speech therapists about my concerns. They decided they would monitor her to begin with and told me not to make an issue of her refusing to speak, to give her the chance to speak but not force her or make it into a big deal or talk about it if she refused to speak. 

Then, last summer, it occurred to me. If I'm trying to arrange speech therapy, maybe I should get her hearing tested as that had been one of the first questions the speech therapist had asked when DD1 had started speech therapy. I asked her doctor to arrange it and he did and her appointment arrived. I went in quite happily expecting her to pass as I'd never really noticed her seeming to not hear, yes she did go into a world of her own but I just thought that was her (which it was as she still does it now!)

We arrived at the appointment and the audiologist put some headphones on her ears and asked her to put a toy in a boat when she heard a sound but she just sat there looking at me, even when I could hear the beep, she would just sit there. So then they took the headphones off her and put some toys on the table and asked her to pick them out but she just looked at them.
"Does she know what they are?" they asked me. 
"Yes." I replied and asked her to pick the horse up, which she did. But what I hadn't realised was, I'd raised my voice and said it quite loudly.
"Do you have to raise your voice?" She asked me, but I hadn't realised I had. So they tried, asking her a little louder and she did what they asked, but if they put their hand over their mouth she just looked at them. Finally they told me they had some concerns about her hearing but as she hadn't co-operated with the hearing test, they would have to refer her to the ENT.

After a little while, I started phoning the hospital to find out about her appointments, as I've learnt the hard way how people can fall through the gap and be missed, plus I figure if I keep hassling them, they'll speed up her appointment to get rid of me!!!

She soon got an appointment with an ENT and again she refused to co-operate with the headphones so the ENT consultant decided that the next step for her would be to try her with a hearing aid and see if it made a difference. If it did then they would give her grommets, and if it didn't they would see what they could do next to help her. I wanted to cry at the thought of my 4yr old needing a hearing aid, but I knew if it would help her I would do it! 

By now DD2 had started to gain a little confidence and had settled down in school and began to talk. In fact she'd come out of school one day with a massive sticker on her jumper and she came running over to tell me "Mummy I talked!". Her teacher even came over with a big grin on her face and you could tell she was thrilled as well as she asked me if DD2 had told me why she'd earnt a sticker. Her teacher then told me that when she spoke, one of her classmates had turned around in shock and said "She TALKS!"

Again I hassled the hospital and she soon had another appointment, this time with a different audiologist and a different ENT consultant. We arrived at the appointment and it was a joint clinic and they had an ENT consultant at the appointment as well as a audiologist and someone who would go into schools and help children with hearing problems and their teachers adapt and work together to help. The audiologist was wonderful with her. He sat down at her level and gave her some toys to play with and he joined in, building her confidence and trust before he began. He also decided not to try her with the headphones but used a handheld machine which made beeps and asked her to put the little men near the handheld to listen for the noise and when she heard it to put them in the boat. She enjoyed that game and for the first time she co-operated with a hearing test! Then he decided to try her with some little headphones which went behind her ears and used the handheld again and she carried on playing the game! She did really well and he said so as well and he said because she had done so well he didn't want to push her by using the headphones to test her ears individually as they'd got enough to go by already. He said that she did have some mild hearing loss but that she wouldn't need a hearing aid as grommets would probably help her, which the ENT consultant agreed after looking in her ears and he would arrange for the grommets to be done as soon as they could. 

She soon had another appointment and saw another ENT consultant and this is the one she would remain under. As soon as he looked in her ears he said he could tell she had glue ear (mucus behind the ear drum which can't drain out and keeps building up causing hearing loss) and he was happy to do the operation as soon as they could. At first he thought she was only 3 as she is small for her age, but because she was just about to turn 5 it was perfect as they don't like operating before they are 5.

Then earlier this year she was given an appointment for her grommets, but unfortunately she couldn't have the first one as she caught a cold, but a few weeks later she finally had it done.

Now I have everyone coming up to me and telling me how chatty she is and how she will talk to people that she knows, but that wouldn't have spoken to before. Especially at Rainbows as her sister has moved up to Brownies and is no longer there to help her out so she has to be more assertive.

I still look back and I'm so amazed at how far she has come in just a few short months! She still needs some speech therapy to help her as her sounds aren't very clear, but then if she couldn't hear properly it's understandable as she learnt to say what she could hear!

So that's my Reason to Be Cheerful for this week! I'm feeling happy and cheerful because my daughter is coming out of her shell and feeling more and more confident and assertive (she still has a way to go, but I'm more confident now than I was that she will get there).

Now it's your turn! Take a minute and think about what's making you feel cheerful at the moment. No matter how bleak you might think things are, finding little happy moments can make things seem a lot better! Don't forget to link up with the R2BC linky below and on Twitter as well using the hashtag #R2BC. Don't forget to pop over to the other blogs as well to see what's making them feel cheerful and help spread the love!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart


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