In September of 2009, Ally and her beautiful little Microtia ear came into our lives. Of course, at first we did not understand why Ally was born with a little ear. In fact, we had no idea Ally also had what is called Atresia until she was 2.5 months old. After worrying about Ally, blaming myself, and doing our research for almost a year, we quickly began to see what a happy baby Ally is. Each day we continue to see her cute, adorable personality develop. Ally is the happiest little girl we know. Even when Ally has a cold or does not feel well, she still finds a way to show us her pretty little smile. She has the sweetest little giggle too. Yes, there are days where I still worry about Ally, but I am her mommy and that’s what mommies are supposed to do. I love my daughter’s little ear and I think her ear is adorable. However, I am concerned about Ally’s hearing and I would like for her to get the most out of life. Whether Ally is in therapy or having her hearing evaluated or trying out BAHAs, I will always let Ally try what I believe are the best options for her. I do not consider Ally to be challenged or a special needs child, but I do know she needs a little extra help here and there and I would like to make sure she gets the help she needs. We invite everyone to join us on our journey with Ally. We invite you to watch Ally grow up and to see how Ally benefits from the options we have chosen for her so far. Deep down I know Ally will be just fine in life, but if I can find a way to help her keep her sunglasses on just so she she can see how bright her future is, I will help Ally find the best options so she can get the most out of life.
Ally is a perfectly healthy little girl, except for the hearing loss in her right ear. Although Ally has normal hearing in her left ear, she has a moderate to severe hearing loss at a 65/70dB level in her right ear. Ever since Ally has been wearing a BAHA, she is more responsive in her environment. Although she may not wear her BAHA every single moment of the day, I believe Ally has already benefited from wearing the BAHA. Prior to wearing the BAHA, Ally was not very responsive. Ally is still experiencing some delay in her speech, but I can not help but wonder how much more of a speech delay Ally would have if she wasn’t wearing the BAHA. On days where Ally gets frustrated with the BAHA, I do not force her to wear it because I know that there are other days when she does want to wear her BAHA. Below are some images of Ally wearing the sound processors (BAHAs) that she has tried on which have helped her to hear better:
Now, I know some may not believe in therapy or that their child is delayed, but I know Ally struggled with some things that I knew therapy could help her out with. For example, Ally was born with “low tone.” In fact, Ally still has some difficulty climbing the stairs on her own and she often stumbles around the house. I am told as she gets older, her balance will improve and her core muscles will get stronger. Ally finally started walking at 17 months of age! Also, right around 17 months of age, Ally finally stopped spitting up. Some may say she was just a spit up baby and that when she was done spitting up, she would stop. However, by having Ally in therapy I learned that she also had low tone in her mouth muscles. Ally wasn’t always chewing her food either. So, when we had the chance to rule out any esophageal and abdominal issues through a “swallow study,” I jumped at the chance to make sure Ally was alright. Either way, if the swallow study was not needed and Ally would eventually out grow the spitting up in time, I needed that peace of mind that she was alright. Since Ally was not talking much and still till this day does not speak much by putting two words together, I was determined to help her out a bit. Since I never got around to signing with Ally’s big sister, Hailey, I figured now would be the time to do so with Ally, especially with her unilateral hearing loss. I know some may believe that signing may cause a delay in speech, but when your child is not really communicating to begin with why not try to help her out by signing. Ally took a liking to the signing and I do believe it helped her out very much. I always signed while speaking to Ally so she would receive the benefit of both and not just one over the other. Below are some images of Ally with her therapists whom I believe helped her thrive and be the active little girl she is today:
I am raising Ally the same way I am raising her big sister, Hailey…to be accepting and loving of one another. Hailey doesn’t talk about Ally’s little ear except once in a while and it is mainly when Hailey says she would like an ear like Ally’s little ear. I don’t believe Ally is any different from any other child. I have done my best to help Ally feel comfortable with her little ear by kissing both of her ears equally (even though I could kiss her little ear a million times everyday. I have a couple of stuffed animals for Ally who also happen to have right ear Microtia/Atresia thanks to some minor adjustments. As faith has it, we happened to find another Microtia/Atresia family just down the road from us with a daughter Ally’s age who also happens to be named Ally too. In our support group, I call them “Meet the Ally’s.” We have play dates form time to time and we attend the girl’s birthday parties. I am happy knowing that both Ally’s have each other and I hope they continue to grow up together and maybe they can even be there for each other if they have a bad day here and there or maybe through surgery if that is what we all decide. Below are some images of Ally and her friend Ally and of Ally with her Microtia/Atresia stuffed animal friends:
Ally is an everyday little girl who loves and adores her big sister, Hailey. Some days they play great together and some days they don’t play as nice with each other, but they are sisters and I know they love each other very much. Below are some images of Ally with her big sister Hailey:
Although I would like for Ally to have two ears so they could hold up her sunglasses, I find it very difficult to want to part with her beautiful little ear. I even have a picture of Ally where she pulled her bib up over her head and it looks like she has no ears. I know she already is beautiful with 1 and a quarter ears…I wonder if she will look just as beautiful when she has two ears some day. Below are some images of my Ally girl wearing sun glasses today:
On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, Ally had her first ever IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) meeting for preschool. Since Ally was now three years old, it was time for her to transition from her IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) through early intervention services to an IEP. I came to the meeting prepared and thankfully, Ally qualified for an IEP. Ally’s IEP included placing her in an amazing deaf and hard of hearing program that was offered at an elementary school within our school district. I wanted to make sure that Ally’s speech improved even though she was having trouble communicating. So, it was very important to me that Ally be given the opportunity to be in a classroom setting that offered both verbal communication and sign. The services that Ally qualified for also included physical therapy services and the option for wearing an FM system along with her BAHA during school time. Since then, Ally has completed her first year of preschool and is progressing amazingly well. Over the past nine months, Ally is speaking much better and has a much larger vocabulary. I am so thankful for the teachers, therapists, and hearing specialists that have helped Ally. Most of all, I am extremely thankful for Ally’s IEP because she needed the extra help. Even though Ally is still delayed in her speech and communication (as of 5/2013), she continues to show improvement and is thriving in her school classroom setting.
Below are some pictures of Ally as she continues to grow (from 3 to 4 years of age):
So, as we continue to do our research and as we continue to explore options for Ally that we believe she will benefit from, please stay in touch as we continue on Ally’s journey with her little ear. We hope that you find our website helpful and we hope it allows you to be able to connect with other families and individuals with little ears. This is why I started both our support group on Facebook and Ear Community…so, none of us would be alone.
The Tumblin Family