Hear me

Yesterday I took Amelia along for a council run “Distraction Hearing Test”. All the women in my mother’s group received letters last week inviting us along so being incredibly concerned about doing the absolute best for our babies there was no question of “please call us if you do not wish to have your baby tested”.
The test was held in a maternal health centre and the waiting room was full of mums and babies. I overheard a couple of them discussing how their children had failed the first time around and how apparently it was really common.

When it was our turn to go in I had to sit on a chair with Amelia perched on the front of my knees. One mothercraft nurse stood in front of us with a rattle to keep Amelia looking to the front and one nurse was behind me rattling objects to see if Amelia would turn around (the “distraction” bit). She did ok on the high frequency sounds but when the nurse started going “Mumumumumumum” in a low voice over my left then right shoulder she failed to respond. Boooo! The fact that there was babble from other mothers and babies in the waiting room just outside and a squeaking door that kept being opened probably didn’t help but we have to go back in a month’s time as this time she may just have fluid in her ears due to a slight head cold. If she fails again we get referred to an audiologist for a more serious round of tests.

"ooh I liked the little rattly noise better!"

Big-P, my Mum (who was up here baby-sitting yesterday) and I have been standing in weird places (behind the door, in the laundry etc) and going “mumumumum” for the last 24 hours to see if she will in fact respond. 10% response I would guess so far. Maybe she just thinks “Mumumumumum” in a low robot voice isn’t worth turning her head for?

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21 Responses

  1. ivresinge@hotmail.com says:

    When I was a baby, my grandmother once commented to my mom that I must have some sort of hearing defect because I refused to turn my head when she called my name. Nope, apparently I was just ignoring her because she wasn’t worth my attention… Babies are smart like that.

  2. Clare_Whitehouse@hotmail.com says:

    Hi Claire,
    Love your illos of Amelia with the funky hair! I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions about the hearing test until she’d had several – she’s probably just being smart and ignoring the annoying sound! ;o) By the way, I’m Deaf and proud of it – and I actually bluffed my way through several hearing tests with flying colours (doctors thinking I could hear) because I curious and craning to see what ppl were doing behind me!! LOL… So, that one test doesn’t necessarily amount to anything – give her time! Best wishes :o)

  3. I remember reading about a better test, in which they sense the slight movement of the muscle behind the ear: Even if the toddler doesn’t consider it worthy of attention, if the sound registers, the muscle involuntarily twitches.Hope everything is OK with your daughyter.

  4. LOL.. yea she probably just doesn’t feel like turning her head for that.

  5. I’m betting that if you give her a treat…edible or otherwise when the sound is made, she’ll start reacting quickly. Quick…teach her operant conditioning!

  6. There’s a history of hearing loss in our family so both our kidlettes were referred to have hearing tests done by an audiologist. The first one (an ABR) involved electrodes on the head and was done while the baby was asleep, but the follow up at 8 or 9 months is the one you are talking about. It was the same sort of thing but done in a soundproof room with flashing lights and boxes with pop up heads to ‘reward’ the child for looking and all the noises were recorded – no ‘mumumumum’ in this test! It is all covered by medicare and I had rather more faith in the results of this test than the ones that you are talking about. Being able to hear a hubbub from the waiting room is hardly helpful for a hearing test. Nothing to worry about I’m sure : )
    Btw I *love* your latest illustrations. You’ve captured Amelia’s wacky hair perfectly!

  7. That’s great to hear Suzette — I was thinking if she fails the next test it will be no big deal as the test conditions seemed so ridiculous. A sound proof room and some exciting noises seems to be a much better idea. She was getting quite anxious by the time the “mumumums” started, wondering why this weird person with a rattle was staring so hard at her and why I was just sitting there not moving or saying anything. Her little perplexed face made my heart melt.

  8. I hate to admit this but I did a similar test when my baby was about 2 months old. I’d call her name while at her sides then got despondent that she wouldn’t respond. The next day I tested with a bell. And this time she responded, to my relief. When I reported the good news to my mom, she was too kind to laugh in my face but commented that my li’l cutie pie must have tuned me out on the first round.
    Looks like the tests done at your centre should have been in a more controlled environment with a more scientific approach minus the mumumums. But that is just me, after feeling silly doing similar tests myself.

  9. rainbowofdarkness@hotmail.com says:

    Hello, my name is Shawn, and I am deaf. I have been reading your journal for a year now I belive. I was born deaf, and grew up in a complicated childhood but I made it out just fine. I wouldnt worry about the defect, all I would worry about is the childs future. Just as long she lives in a happy household, and has a great parent like you and her papa to care and to spoil her so. So dont treat her any differently than she already is. Thats my advice.

  10. marmalade_moon@OUTyahoo.com says:

    Hey Claire. I used to run a test similar to this one for a research project and here are my 2 cents: it’s not necessarily anything to worry about. First of all, the above people are right; maybe Amelia just didn’t care to turn her head. After all, she did the low frequency sounds second/last, at which point the task might have gotten old for her. Second of all, the head cold likely didn’t help, as you said. Why don’t you try some other low frequency sounds to see if those perk her interest? Other than that, keep with the tests ’cause Audiologists are cool and the other tests are not necessarily “more serious” – they just won’t rely on her outward reactions. A little tympanometry is no big deal.

  11. And, as all bass players know, an appreciation of low-frequency sound is only acquired over time. You’d be suprised how many musicians can’t hear anything much below middle C, not because of anything audiological, but because they don’t listen. Does Big-P have a low-pitched voice? Maybe she hasn’t heard any worthwhile sounds in that frequency spectrum.

  12. I’ve been hearing mumumumumum noises for years now. If she can’t hear them yet, she should count herself lucky. Because eventually the mumumumumum always leads to the eechieechieechi noises that really get you out of bed in the middle of the night.

  13. I remember my sisters anxiety when my nephew Robbie didn’t do so well in his first hearing test, second time around he just did fine and I’m sure Amelia will to.

  14. The reason they make car or plane voices female is because drivers and pilots usually ignore low frequency sounds like male voices and Mumumumum’s. I don’t think Amelia has any significant hearing problem.

  15. evan@evan.nu says:

    Hello Claire! A few years ago I (a.k.a. Evan Raspberry) submitted my salsa recipe to you for your cooking section. It’s still a pleasure to visit your site and to read about your adventures with the new lil’ loobylu. Take care!

  16. scoxon@optusnet.com.au says:

    This reminds me of a story about my husband, where at the start of every school year the teacher would send him for hearing tests because he wouldn’t answer when his name was called. Nothing wrong with his hearing, he just lived in his own little world where he responded to people only when he felt like it! I think Amelia has her own agenda… who wants to listen to a mumbly nurse?

  17. Claire,
    My son was the same way with low sounds. Don’t fret. How in the world did we all manage to ever get to adulthood without all these nifty tests for our parents to find out all the things we had wrong with us?? (I do know that it is truly an advantage to be able to detect things when there is something wrong, but I also thing in the vast majority of cases science certainly can make us worry our selves to death over every tiny thing with our children!)

    I also wanted to let you know that your newest illustration is so beautiful it literally caused a pain in my heart. Beautiful work Claire! Don’t you ever stop!

  18. c.laffan@bmcdvic.com.au says:

    Has anyone read that Roald Dahl short story about the man who invented a machine to translate very low and very high frequency shounds into the spectrum we can hear? Lucky she can’t hear all that – she’d never go outside again!

  19. reid_ringwood@optusnet.com.au says:

    I remember when my daugher (now almost three)did her hearing test, but I must say they did take us into a small room with no distractions. It became yet another of the “competitions” in my mother’s group (first to get a tooth, first to crawl, first to talk, first to walk etc etc etc blah, blah, blah). Anyway, we were the only one’s to pass first time. Mind you, this was the only competition we did “win”. Needless to say I didn’t last long in my mother’s group. But I really wouldn’t worry. We all have bad days when we don’t feel like doing what we are told to do, and Amelia may have been having one of those, god bless her little cotton socks. And the worst thing that can happen is that you go back and she still doesn’t respond, and isn’t it better that if there is something wrong that it is found and treated? Good luck, and really, don’t worry!

  20. s.alexander@sagetechnology.com.au says:

    Sophie had the same thing happen to her around 18 – 20 months ago. The testing environment was exactly the same. It was a wonder that Sophie responded to anything but the noise of the front door opening.
    Anyway, to cut this little story short, the second test all ended up fine.

    By the way … do one for the Dad’s. Try Dadadadadadadada in a low voice. 😉


  21. teeooo@hotmail.com says:

    My brother (now 8 years) is almost deaf. He wast tested like all the babies, doctors told he could hear, blah, blah…But our family didn`t think so and finally around 2 years doctors admitted too that he couldn`t hear well. But everythings fine, we have learned the sign language and there`s no problem. Our family never thought this to be a big deal, like we later found out that many parents just can`t accept it…