Post surgical support for many adults consists mainly of appointments with their CI audiologist for the purpose of monitoring speech perception and mapping the sound processor. If you are one of many CI users who does not have access to a Speech Language Pathologist, this post will have special relevance for you.
Practical tips for self- learning auditory rehabilitation
• In the absence of speech language therapist to help manage the rehabilitation process, you are the case manager of your own rehabilitation. This is an important responsibility with many implications.
• First, you will need to pursue available professional resources yourself. Ask questions of your mapping audiologist and don't wait until your next meeting if you need answers. Immediate answers can be crucial. Report any changes in your hearing or other issues to your CI team.
• Ensure that you understand how to maintain and use your processor. The recipient kit comes with different accessories. You might not need them during the initial period of using your CI, but later on they can be very useful. Ask for professional guidance to enjoy the full benefits of your technology.
• Use your CI regularly throughout the day. If there are any restrictions or difficulties in your CI daily use, inform your audiologist and look for suitable solutions.
• Knowledge can be a great source of strength. In order to acquire this knowledge, participate in lectures and conferences, read professional papers and books, visit the online website for the company that manufactured your device, and stay abreast of technological improvements.
• Online CI users groups can provide you with many practical answers as well as emotional support.
• Document your hearing follow-up outcomes and ask your audiologist to explain any changes.
• Offer to participate in research at your CI center. This could provide you with additional knowledge as well as additional opportunities to meet and talk with the CI team.
• Be optimistic but realistic about your rehabilitation goals. Discuss your goals with your audiologist. Setting realistic rehabilitation goals is often the key to a sense of accomplishment and success.
• Be aware of the fact that spontaneous auditory learning during natural situations is not always possible. Typical everyday (noisy) acoustic conditions mask parts of the speech signal. In addition, natural communication interactions include a lot of inaccessible speech information (e.g. multiparty conversations, classroom situations, group meetings, and so on). Therefore, especially in the first period of your CI experience, you need to set aside time in a favorable setting to practice your hearing skills.
• Ask family members and friends to help clarify sounds. Choose one person to be your auditory trainer. If possible, this person should accompany you to as many meetings with your CI team as they can to help motivate you to acquire auditory skills. It may require lots of patience on their part for the repetitive practice required for success. They will also want to be there when you wish to share your concerns and frustrations. From my experience, these partners experience high levels of satisfaction and gratification for your trust and for the chance to be a part of such an important phase of your life.
• Know that auditory learning after cochlear implantation is a long-term process, characterized by changes in objectives and in the pace of progress along the way. We will discuss this issue in the future. However, for now, it is important to note that efficient auditory learning should become part of your daily life. This is not a short-term effort, but a long-term commitment.
In my next post, I will share information on specific recorded and other materials that you may find useful in your auditory self-learning rehabilitation program.
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