“The doctors and nurses told us that Davin didn’t have ears. That he was going to be a deaf-mute and would never talk or hear. I didn’t believe them and the next day my mom came to the hospital with a yellow piece of paper with writing on it – microtia and atresia” – Shannon Gordon
“I remember the day when my youngest daughter Alyssa (Ally) was born. It was one of the happiest moments in my life. My husband, Brent, and I were so thrilled to finally meet her. I remember her little smile and how beautiful she was, but I also remember Brent coming over to me with tears welled up in his eyes when he said ‘Something is wrong with her ear.’ Ally’s right ear was only partially formed, with no obvious ear canal.” – Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community
Melissa Tumblin with her daughter, Ally, at the prescreening of the movie Wonder
This is not just Shannon and Melissa’s story. It’s the story that many families with microtia and atresia have faced.
Today, we’re happy to see awareness being spread from the recent movie “Wonder”, which documents the journey of Auggie Pullman, a boy born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, who has microtia and atresia. Although Auggie’s story might be fictional, the lives of approximately 600,000 individuals who have been diagnosed with a craniofacial condition in the U.S. and 34,000 people living with microtia are real. As awareness is cultivated by movies like “Wonder”, so is kindness, responsibility, and friendship. Ultimately, we hope this movie and others like it will continue to inspire the world to ‘choose kind’.
“This movie is bringing a lot of awareness to some of our very rare differences.” – Rachel Plassmeyer
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America with a population of over 6 million people. According to the Carlyle Hearing Center, it is estimated that 10% of the Nicaraguan population has a severe to profound hearing loss, pointing to a count of 600,000 people.
Sherry Rauh is a former medical journalist. After becoming intrigued by implantable hearing technology, she went back to school and to earn her AuD from Nova Southeastern University in 2015. She is now a clinical audiologist with South Florida ENT Associates and the co-founder of Hear for Good, Inc., a nonprofit foundation dedicated to helping adults and children with hearing loss in South Florida and Nicaragua.
Hearing Aids for Nicaraguan Students (HANS)
Kamilla, age 7
In 2014, Dr. Rauh organized a joint project between Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Student Academy of Audiology and the Los Pipitos Institute in Managua, Nicaragua to provide hearing aids to children.
“I had been to Nicaragua the previous year and saw how they were identifying many children with hearing loss at a young age, but had limited resources for intervention.”
In 2015, the HANS Project received a grant from the Hear the World Foundation providing BTE hearing aids for the next 5 years. Dr. Rauh now travels to Nicaragua every year with a small group of audiology students from NSU, to fit new hearing aid devices and provide followup to previous patients, while Los Pipitos provides check-ups and speech therapy.
“It’s really important to me that whichever children we do fit with hearing aids we are able to provide them with sufficient follow-up care.”
Providing Bone Conduction Hearing Devices in Nicaragua
Anselyn, age 1
As Dr. Rauh’s organization has grown, her partners in Nicaragua began asking what could be done for children with microtia and atresia, who cannot use conventional hearing aids for their hearing loss. She reached out to Oticon Medical and her local representative, Brittany Whitlock, who provided two demo units which were fit with soft-bands. Oticon Medical then made an official donation of four Ponto 3 Power units for her trip her most recent trip this October.
“While we have the BTE hearing aids, there are children who can’t use those and to be able to extend assistance to those children meant a lot to our team, the team in Nicaragua, and the families.”
Frander, age 7 months
With the continued work of the Hear for Good foundation and Los Pipitos, children in Nicaragua with different hearing needs are not only being fit with hearing devices, but receiving the proper follow-up, and care throughout their lives. When asked why this work is important to her, Dr. Rauh said, “There are so many countries where there is very little, to no access to audiologists, so part of me feels like we have a responsibility to provide that assistance. But I also get a lot of personal joy making these trips and seeing the difference we are making.”
November 9th is dedicated to spreading hope and knowledge around a congenital birth defect, Microtia, which occurs when the ear has not been fully developed in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Often affecting one or both ears, Microtia is diagnosed at birth, but there is no understanding as to why it occurs. A Microtia ear is smaller in size, can have a peanut shaped appearance, and is often accompanied by Atresia. Atresia, also known as aural atresia, is the absence or closure of the external auditory ear canal.
At Oticon Medical, we’re proud to say that our Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS) has helped people affected by Microtia and Atresia. As we celebrate the second annual Microtia Awareness Day today, we hope to promote public awareness and hope for future generations.
To learn more about Microtia and Atresia and explore helpful resources please visit the Ear Community.
We know that conversation and discussion through the lens of experience is the most powerful tool in making the right decision for the best hearing care. Recently, we’ve been working on a program with our advocates to empower these discussions in local communities with meetups around the United States.
These events are an opportunity to learn about the latest hearing technology, how to navigate the process of selecting a hearing device, trial the Ponto 3 SuperPower and meet other people within the community. Our hope is that these events can help create that community connection to help people connect and make the best, most informed decisions when it comes to healthy hearing.
Here’s a look into one of the first events hosted by Angela Sabal, creator of the “BAHA World Hearing” Facebook support group, and Maureen Winter, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for Oticon Medical that took place yesterday in Richmond, VA.
Stay tuned as we continue to roll out more events throughout the year. If you are interested in hosting an event in your area, we’d love to chat! You can email Liz at email@example.com or comment below.
Interested in learning more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower? Click “Learn More” to be connected to a representative.
We hear time and time again from parents of Ponto users that doing research into all the hearing options available is the best way to make the most informed decision. For Heidi Jeffs, research into different hearing groups is what led her to not only find the best hearing solution for her five-year-old daughter Rosalee but become an advocate in the hearing loss community.
Rosalee was born with microtia and atresia on her left side and fit with a bone anchored hearing device on a soft band given to her by her audiologist.
“We met with our audiologist and wanted her to have a device. We didn’t know any different or know of other options.”
Shortly after, Heidi learned about Ear Community, a non-profit organization that offers a supportive community for individuals born with microtia and atresia, and other varying degrees of hearing loss.
The community, which was started by Melissa Tumblin whose daughter Ally was born with microtia and atresia, provides support through their online Facebook group as well as annual picnics around the country.
Through her involvement with Ear Community, Heidi began meeting other parents and bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) users and found that feedback was a common issue.
“We were having a lot of feedback issues. Some moms were commiserating about it and then there was one mom whose daughter had bilateral Pontos and she was like ‘what are you guys talking about?’ The woman said her daughter could lay on a pillow with her Pontos on and it wouldn’t squeal. So I started looking into the Ponto devices.”
The Ear Community picnics were where Heidi became familiar with Oticon Medical and her daughter was able to try on a Ponto device for the first time.
“It didn’t sound echoey. It was just clear. I was flat out convinced. Then the more and more that I learned about the company I was even more impressed. It really felt like Oticon Medical stood by their motto ‘People First’.”
When it was time for Rosalee to upgrade, she tested the Ponto 3 on a softband and said yes to switching to the Ponto. Heidi notes that before, it was difficult to get Rosalee to wear her device, but since switching she hasn’t complained once about the softband being uncomfortable or sore, making the transition very easy and enjoyable.
“Between the quality of products and the integrity of the company, it is so far above the others out there.”
Since beginning this hearing care journey with her daughter, Heidi has served on the board of Ear Community for three years and is now a full-time staff member. Additionally, she served on the board for the Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and was chosen as a parent representative for Idaho to attend the EHDI conference – an early hearing detection and intervention event. To all parents looking to learn about hearing options for themselves or their child with hearing loss, she recommends trying all your options, on your child and yourself, to help you make the best decision for your family.
Are you interested in learning about the Ponto 3 SuperPower and how it can provide early support for children and adults with hearing loss? Click below to be connected to a representative from our team.
Hazel Shelton was born with bilateral Microtia and moderate mixed hearing loss. She was unaided until she was 18 months and adopted by the Shelton family. After trying a number of hearing devices and experiencing issues with feedback, her mother Jillian decided to conduct her own research and become an advocate for her daughter.
“I watched a video of a daughter laying in her mother’s arms wearing the Ponto and there was no feedback. I started to look in the Facebook groups and hands down, Ponto won.”
Jillian traveled to California to attend the Earicles Los Angeles Microtia Atresia conference to take her research further. After meeting with a number of doctors and experts, she returned home and “kindly demanded” an upgrade for her daughter.
Hazel has now been using her Ponto 3 SuperPower on a softband for two weeks. In the video below, Jillian demonstrates just how big of a difference her Ponto is making in her life.
“My daughter’s sentences have exploded. Not just one or two words but sentences and she’s only had them on for two weeks! The feedback is not there – when she gives me a hug, sits in her car seat, or wears her hair down. She grabs the Ponto first thing in the morning and wears it until she falls asleep at night. Hands down, Ponto is the way to go.”
If you’d like to learn more about how the Ponto 3 SuperPower can provide early support for children and adults with hearing loss, click below to be connected to a representative from our team.
It’s everyone’s favorite time of year….back to school! It’s during this time that we begin to see questions surrounding FM systems such as…
“Does anyone have experience with the different FM systems especially in the classroomsetting?”
“I was wondering if anyone had instructions for their kid’s school made for them and the streamer/FM.”
Knowing how to educate not only children but teachers about hearing loss and the importance of using an FM system in the classroom is vital to helping start the school year right.
The importance of an FM System
Many who deal with hearing loss work to overcome three key obstacles: noise, distance, and reverberation. FM helps cut through noise and distance by delivering sound directly to the ear. Reverberation, one of the most common obstacles, usually happens in large spaces such as classrooms, lecture halls, places of worship and theaters. Again, when sound travels directly to the ear, it does not pick up reverberation in the room. Ponto sound processors can be used with FM systems so that the teacher’s voice can be transmitted directly to the sound processor.
“When you combine an FM system with a bone anchored hearing device and your child is being taught how to be a “visual” learner and be aware to always be looking, watching and reading lips, then together….all of these things help optimize your child’s maximum potential to hear his/her very best.” – Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community.
Connecting your FM System to your Ponto Sound Processor
For FM you need three parts:
Once those three pieces are in place, you then have to make sure the receiver is compatible with your sound processor and your transmitter. All of the working parts must go together.
The Amigo Family does a great job at demonstrating the variability in FM. The “Amigo R2 BA” was created specifically for the Ponto Pro family. It’s important to note that the “Amigo R2” doesn’t work with the Ponto Pro family, the product name must have “BA” included, which stands for bone anchored.
The Amigo T5, T10, T20, T21, T30 and T31 transmitters are all compatible with the Ponto Pro family. The Amigo Arc and Amigo R5 with induction loop will work with the Ponto with the telecoil in place.
Ear level FM Receivers compatible with Ponto processors include:
Oticon Amigo R2 BA
Phonak MLxS BAHA
Phonak MLxi BAHA
The Oticon Medical Streamer
The Ponto 3 and the Ponto Plus sound processors wirelessly connect to an FM system using the Oticon Medical Streamer. Users can listen to lectures and lessons at school without plugging any additional device into their sound processor. The Streamer has a built-in Europlug socket that enables an FM receiver to be attached.
Educating others on using an FM System
Educating teachers and children on the importance of using FM system in the classroom is vital to creating a positive learning experience. Below is a great video by St. John’s Medical Center that shows the difference an FM system can make for a child with hearing loss and the potential consequences of unmanaged hearing loss in the classroom.
Produced by St. John’s Medical Center’s Pediatric Audiology Project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
We know you still might have questions. To help, we have a number of videos that walk through FM and connecting to other devices with the Oticon Medical Streamer. There are also numerous resources for parents in this Facebook group, including sample letters parents have used to explain their child’s bone anchored hearing device to teachers.
If you are interested in learning more about the Ponto device for your child, click below to be connected to a representative from our team.
Kavya Sharma is almost two years old and lives in New Delhi, India. She had a difficult start in life, being born with bilateral Microtia and Atresia as well as Hemifacial Microsomia and a hole in her heart. These conditions brought her to the hospital often for feeding tubes and oxygen therapy. Today, Kavya has recovered from many of her health related issues, except one – her ability to hear.
In the Spring of 2017, her mother Savita Sharma, reached out to Ear Community looking for help. With bilateral Microtia and Atresia, Kavya struggled with speech development and couldn’t hear her parents. They worried about her ability to make friends and how she would be able to learn and attend school. After consulting with a specialist in New Delhi, it was suggested that a bone conduction device could be the answer.
On June 5, 2017, Kavya received two brand new Ponto 3 SuperPowers from Oticon Medical that were donated through the Ear Community. With the help and donated time of Dr. Niraj Kumar at the AIMS hospital in Safdarjung, Delhi, India Kavya was fitted and now has the auditory tools she needs to move forward.
“This precious little girl has already struggled to get to where she is, and we are thrilled to be able to help her on her journey.” – Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community.
Are you interested in learning more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower for yourself or your child? Click below to be connected to a representative from our team.
Since receiving my Ponto 3 SuperPower, walking through life is far more different than I ever could have imagined. It’s often overwhelming to think about all of the different sounds that I can now interpret with ease because of my device.
Below are four of the most noticeable differences in sound that I’ve observed through wearing my Ponto 3 SuperPower.
My own voice:
It may seem silly, but anyone who has worn a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System will tell you that the moment they snapped it on, the way they heard their own voices was drastically different. For some, it’s not always the most pleasant surprise. I’ve never been a huge fan of how I sound in recordings that are played back to me, and this sort of sound is how I would describe my voice when listening to it with my Ponto on. Though it may seem jarring at first, it’s really amazing to understand finally how the rest of the world hears you when you speak!
Parts of songs that went unnoticed:
I am a member of a chapel choir at my college, and I tend to sit towards the back of the group with the rest of the men. I’ve always known that our group contained several instrumentalists, but I was never able to fully hear them until now! I have also noticed that I am able to pick apart different aspects of music that I was not able to before. I don’t believe that this is because of an increase in volume, but rather because of an increase in clarity.
Voices in a conference setting:
At school, more often than not, I find myself communicating with me peers in a group setting – a cafeteria, a bustling classroom, a loud dormitory. Before my Ponto, I always had difficulty differentiating voices that were happening all at once. My Ponto helps me not only to separate those voices, but also makes them clearer and more easily understood.
Sounds in nature:
The first time I went on a hike with my Ponto, I was in tears. Turns out, nature is noisy! I have always loved the great outdoors, but the vibrant and amazing sounds were lost to me. With nature, and with everything else, I’ve come to realize that there is so much happening around me that I didn’t know about before I snapped on my Ponto 3 Superpower.
Interested in learning more about our newest Ponto – the Ponto 3 SuperPower? Click the button below to be connected to a representative from our team.
About the author – Kevin Hotaling
After attending Oticon Medical’s patient advocacy event in 2016, I knew I wanted to take action on my advocacy in a new way. I am in awe of the work that Oticon Medical does, and even more so excited by the ways in which the work is done. I’ve always been very adept in social networking and media and knew I wanted to use my skill set in a professional, progressive and communal environment.
We’re thrilled to share an inspiring dance video and shine a light on the impact the Ponto softband has had on one dancer in particular.
Five-year-old Emma Bowie was born with left ear Microtia. Three years ago, after discussing hearing care options with her audiologist she was fitted with a Ponto Plus on a softband. Her mother, Kathy Bowie, says that she had been behind in speech development, but now has made big improvements.
“We noticed a big difference in her speech when she got her Ponto. She was trying to say more words. Just within the last year it has all come together for her and her speech has blossomed.” – Kathy Bowie
One of the biggest improvements in hearing for Emma happens not only at home, but in the dance studio. She is a part of the ‘A Chance to Dance’ program at Miss Donna’s School of Dancing in North Carolina, where children with disabilities can learn an array of dance from lyrical, to jazz, to tap.
Emma, who has always loved to dance, will be performing her first solo next season and always wears her Ponto bone anchored hearing system while she’s on stage.
“They make me hear better, and I go to school and I can learn and I can hear my teachers.” – Emma Bowie
‘A Chance to Dance’ and Emma were featured on TODAY in a heartwarming story about the studio in the video below.
If you’d like to learn more about how the Ponto can provide early support for children and adults with hearing loss, click here and we’ll help you find an Audiologist in your area.