This was a pediatric hearing test done at the Rhode School For the Deaf. M. the Speech Therapist suggested we get a hearing test done to rule out hearing problems as a reason for delayed speech. A. asked if we wanted her to go. Since she is my son's Early Intervention Service Coordinator, I feel she should come to all our specialist appointments. Not only is she an advocate should we need one, she is also an impartial third party. She would definitely ask us how the visit went, but I feel that I would give her opinions, not just facts and she needs facts to add to my son's record.
When we met the Audiologist we gathered in his office. He asked who we all were and why we were there. He then had me and my husband take our son into a sound proof room and sent A. into the lobby. My son sat on my lap and the Audiologist gave him a stuffed animal to play with. With my son distracted, he checked his ears and said they looked fine. Being nervous, I asked how can they look good with all the potatoes growing in there? He said a few potatoes were fine. He then did a small test to check the anatomy of the inside of my son's ears. The scan was fine. He then conducted the same hearing test given at birth to all children born in the state of Rhode Island. My son passed. The next phase of the hearing test was the Audiologist left the room and went into a room directly in front of us. I was reminded almost of a sound recording booth. There was a large sheet of glass in front of us. We could see him, but could not hear him unless he activated a microphone. He could hear and see us. In our room there were three speakers. One if front of us, and two to the sides. There were also three light boxes in the room. One directly in front of us with Mickey Mouse, one on the left with Donald Duck and one on the right with a third Disney character. My son was still clutching the stuffed animal. The Audiologist would activate the microphone for the speakers in turn, then flash on and off the light box. My son was totally unimpressed and ignored everything except for the stuffed animal. The Audiologist then asked if I could take the toy away. My son took that opportunity to toss the toy on the floor. The Audiologist proceeded to say my son's name at different volumes through the speakers. For about half a minute, my son was responsive. Then it was all over.
We went into the lobby to join A. and wait while the Audiologist prepared the results. When we gathered in his office, he asked what my son's developmental age was. A. said her agency does not assess developmental age, but stated my son scored 5 out of a possible 35 on his communication assessment at our annual review. That assessment was based on an average 2 year olds developmental level. The Audiologist said the results were inconclusive. Because my son's ears are anatomically fine, he doesn't believe there is damage to the ears, but my son was incredibly unresponsive to the stimuli. He said if I want to 100% rule out a hearing deficit, we can sedate my son and then do a brain scan. I am not even a little ok with that. I think at 2 years of age sedation for an unnecessary procedure is totally not ok. I know for a fact my son isn't deaf. When he is deeply napping, when I go to wake him up I rap loudly on his bedroom door. He immediately gets startled. I believe there could be some pitches he might not hear, but I don't think he is deaf. The Audiologist suggested we come back in a few months for another hearing test, no sedation. He then gave us copies of the inconclusive results for the Neurologist, the Speech Therapist and the Pediatrician.
My mom has been reading up on autistic children and autism in general. Based on several of the behaviors my son displays, I think he may have autism. This is not a bad thing, but I think if he has it, then in order to help him succeed we need to mold his therapies around his abilities. My mother is currently reading The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin. One of the topics discussed is hearing and autism. Some people who have autism can only hear vowels, other only consonants. Other people with autism can only hear certain tones and pitches. Other people with autism are so into their own mind, or activity, they can't hear you. I asked A. if she feels my son might be displaying some of the symptoms of autism. She danced around her answer. She finally said we can discuss my concerns with the Neurologist or if I can't wait until August to see him, we can call a different one. I told her I understand she can't diagnose, but based on her experience does she think I might have an autistic child. She was quiet and hesitant and then finally said she has not worked with enough autistic children to give an opinion.
I know my son has sensory processing disorder. Maybe that is all we are looking at. But I want him to succeed and to live the happiest life he can. Although I think we are into labels, if I knew what we are dealing with, I feel I could better help him succeed.