Another update on Maliah’s hearing

It’s been about two months since I gave an update on Maliah’s journey into the land of sound. As I’ve mentioned before, we adopted Maliah from Rwanda last year and shortly after we brought her home we found out she was completely deaf. She had cochlear implant surgery in May and was “activated” in June, so she’s been hearing for about 10 weeks now.

Maliah looks at a book, one of her favourite activities.

We’re noticing slow but sure progress. She’s starting to respond to more sounds now. More and more, she’ll stop what she’s doing and turn to the sound of my voice when I talk to her—particularly if I talk in a really deep voice. She’s starting to interact with sound a little bit too. If she’s banging on her high-chair tray and we imitate her by banging on the table, sometimes she’ll stop, listen to what we’re doing and then bang a similar rhythm once we stop.

On a couple occasions she’s even picked up on a sound from another room and wandered in to see what was going on. (Usually if the boys are doing something especially noisy.) The funniest recent example had to do with food. Maliah loves to eat, and Shawna’s been trying to teach her to associate certain sounds with certain foods. Whenever she gives Maliah a cookie, she crinkles the plastic bag. So the other day, as Shawna was pouring one of the boys a bowl of Cheerios, Maliah heard the crinkling of plastic and came running into the kitchen because she thought she was getting a cookie!

She loves creating her own sounds too. Within the first few days of having her implants activated, she started making random noises just to hear the sound of her own voice. She still does that almost constantly, but she experiments with different sounds and pitches. She seems to be picking up and imitating a lot more high-pitched sounds now—and a lot of the time it seems like she’s singing to herself. It’s very cute.

Some of her other noises are not so cute. Right now she’s especially fond of grabbing the child-locked cupboard doors, which only open about an inch, and yanking as hard and as fast as she can. No matter where you are in the house, you can hear the KA-THUNK KA-THUNK KA-THUNK KA-THUNK. Which drives me absolutely bonkers. So we’re trying to nip that habit in the bud.

We have good days where she seems totally engaged and other days where she retreats into her own little world, but overall we’re definitely seeing progress. There’s still a long way to go—Maliah may be almost two but in “hearing age” she’s like a two-month-old, well behind her extremely social (and vocal) 10-month-old brother in her ability to recognize sounds and use them to communicate. But she’s learning, and it’s neat to see.

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