A few weeks ago they did hearing tests at BratA’s school (who, I’ve decided, shall henceforth be known as Asterix), and it turned out that he was not hearing well at certain frequencies. His teacher told us this much; other than that, we had to wait for the official letter that would make it officially official that there was a problem.
This didn’t come as a complete surprise–Asterix sometimes has difficulty understanding what is said. He’s had this problem ever since he was supposed to understand things, and he’s had it in both of his languages. It did, however, appear earlier that the problem had to do more with language processing than with hearing. His receptive language has always been on more or less on target for his age (even if he occasionally asked “what?”), but when he was younger, his expressive language was behind by more than a year compared to his peers, and he mangled syntax and morphology in ways that his older brother (who shall henceforth be referred to as Kalessin) never did. His phonetic output, on the other hand, was normal–better than some of the kids he went to preschool with. Based on all of that, he seemed to be heading for a “Specific Language Impairment” diagnosis. (Specific meaning that the delay is only in the area of language, not in overall development.)
When he started kindergarten, the teacher did note that there was a problem, and we agreed that he should be evaluated by the speech therapist. The speech therapist did speak to me, noticed that I was not unfamiliar with linguistic terminology, and apparently put him on the “not urgent” list. She then got sick (serious stuff) and in the end the kid was not evaluated or diagnosed with anything.
By the end of the kindergarten year, the whole thing was off the agenda, because he was not only speaking better and sounding pretty much like his peers (with a bit of occasional quirky syntax here and there), but he was reading and writing above grade level. This was a surprise, because children with SLI (which is how I thought of his problem, even though he never received that official stamp) usually have problems with reading and writing. It is also obvious that his auditory processing problem didn’t just disappear–he still has a lot of difficulty repeating nonsense poetry, for example, or any stretch of text he doesn’t properly understand (such as longer Hungarian words with multiple suffixes) . What happens, apparently, is that he is very visual. He learned to read pretty quickly using that skill, and then actually transferred his now visually processed language to spoken language as well. Or that’s my best theory.
Anyway, after receiving the officially official notification from the school district indicating in red the frequency and decibel levels that had been found problematic, I took Asterix to the doctor. They noted (as had the person who administered the school test) that he was congested due to allergies (old non-news in our family) and that this could be playing a part in his hearing problems. We were told to give him Claritin (which hadn’t worked before) and we also got a steroid nasal spray to try (which was new). And they repeated the hearing test–the beepy test, as we called it.
Asterix listened to the instructions that he should lift his left hand when he heard a sound in his left ear and his right hand when he heard it in the right. He confirmed that he understood these instructions, and left and right hands were correctly identified. The test was then started and it seemed to proceed well, with Asterix lifting his hands frequently and enthusiastically. The nurse, however, looked confused. She stopped the test, quizzed the poor child again on the question of left and right, then put on the earphones herself to see if they might not be functioning correctly. She said they were, and the test was completed.
The nurse then reported to the doctor, and to me, that Asterix seemed to be hearing the beeps just fine, but he lifted the opposite hand.
“You mean consistently?” the doctor and I asked in chorus.
“Yes, every single time,” the nurse said.
“So then,” the doctor concluded, “he passed–with oddness.”
So that’s our diagnosis so far. She did say she’s referring us to the audiologist, but we haven’t been given an appointment yet. (She wants to see if we can clear up the congestion a little.)
But I’d really like to see what exactly is written on the referral.