Today was Ellie’s 8 month hearing test. As per recommendations, children with Down Syndrome are to have their hearing checked between 8 and 10 months and then repeated throughout their childhood. A struggle that Ellie will battle with throughout her life will be the anatomy of her ear canals. Her ear canals are very narrow and this anatomy with her low muscle tone make it difficult for fluid to drain from her ears. When people get colds and infections there is fluid buildup in the ears, for me, however, that fluid will drain as I get better. For Ellie the fluid may stay in her ear canal and not properly drain possibly becoming infected. The infected fluid would then cause ear infections and possibly temporary hearing problems. If she can’t hear properly she will experience language delays. Although the recommendation is for Ellie to have a hearing test at this age, developmentally she was not ready for the test. The doctor said this is common so her test will be repeated in 3 months. The test requires her to look in the direction of sounds at various volumes, a concept she doesn’t consistently have yet. She was much more focused on the lines that connected the speakers to her ears. The doctor noted that Ellie’s ear canals are not extremely narrow, but unfortunately there is slight fluid buildup. The fluid is not infected, it just can’t be drained. This could have happened throughout the winter as she has been consistently congested, there is nothing we could have done to stop it. Her doctor will continue to check for any ear infections and treat them accordingly. If we determine the fluid is causing hearing impairment, she will need tubes to drain it. I know Ellie can hear but we will need to determine the extent of her hearing ability. I am lucky to be dealing with a diagnosis that has already been so heavily researched. Advocacy over the years has significantly helped people with Down Syndrome. We know what to look for and what to monitor. These doctors, tests, and pre cautions are all helping Ellie before an issue even has time to hold her back. I think of those parents not so long ago who had to fight for their children with Down Syndrome. I am so lucky to receive calls and notices informing me of things like hearing tests.
I was able to get a picture of Ellie sitting unassisted the other day. My heart doing back flips for this strong girl. When I think of the things that are trying to hold her back like narrow ear canals and low muscle tone, she amazes me a million times over. I can picture her life ahead, jumping hurdle after hurdle, all with her face lit with a smile.