Tag Archives: children with hearing loss

Isabella’s Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System helps her on and off the volleyball court

Despite being born with a bilateral conductive hearing loss, Isabella doesn’t let anything, especially her hearing loss, slow her down. She has microtia on her left side and bilateral atresia. When her parents realized she had a hearing loss at birth, they worked quickly to ensure she received early intervention.

“When I was little and I hadn’t had my reconstruction surgery yet for my microtia, I used to tell people that I was in an alligator fight and that an alligator bit my ear off. I was instantly the coolest kid.” – Isabella Rodriguez.

Her mother, Lupita, began advocating and researching this new world of hearing loss which led her to join Georgia PINES (Parent Infant Network for Educational Services). Through her work as an early interventionist for Georgia PINES and Georgia Hands and Voices, she learned first-hand about the latest hearing technology and spoke with local audiologists. This is how she came across Oticon Medical’s Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.

Starting high school off right
As Isabella entered high school, her parents knew she needed to upgrade to the newest technology to ensure she was set up for success. After trialing different brands, Isabella chose the Ponto and started her high school days with a Ponto Plus Power on a softband. “The Ponto was a lot clearer, had less feedback and had a sleek design, while the other options sounded robotic,” she explains.

And in a school of more than 3,000 kids, her Ponto made a difference. Whether she was taking part in group projects, communicating with classmates in the cafeteria, or socializing in the courtyard.

“In the classroom, the new lecture style of teaching where the teacher moves about the room would have normally been really difficult for me to hear, but my Oticon Medical Streamer helps. I wear my Streamer and the teachers use an FM system to send sound to my Streamer which sends sound to my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez

Connecting with other Ponto users at local events
As Isabella now plans for college next year, she and her family have started researching abutment surgery. Surgery can come with a lot of questions and 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. After attending a bone anchored hearing meetup in Georgia, hosted by Ross Wiseman earlier this year, Isabella and Lupita were able to meet other Ponto users who wear their Pontos on abutments.

“We were able to connect with Ross and two other women who had the Ponto abutment surgery at the meetup. They explained their experience with the surgery and how their hearing had improved,” Lupita explained.

Wearing a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System in high school
Isabella currently plays competitive volleyball with her Ponto, which she says helps her hear coaches and teammates.

“I never play without my Ponto.” – Isabella Rodriguez

As she’s grown older, she has gained more confidence and become used to educating her teachers and fellow students on what it means to have a hearing loss. To other young people with hearing loss who may be struggling with self-confidence, she says, “Don’t be ashamed. Everyone is different and there is nothing wrong with you.”

 

If you’d like to learn more about the latest Ponto device – the Ponto 3 SuperPower, click below to be connected with an audiologist.
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The Ponto 3 SuperPower ignites a love for music for Talia

Three-year-old Talia Jarvis was born with unilateral microtia and atresia, and bilateral moderate-severe hearing loss. When the Jarvis family adopted Talia in March of 2017, they took her to an ENT right away to begin her hearing journey.

“I wasn’t familiar with all the different devices. Our audiologist said they were all pretty much the same. They didn’t provide the Ponto so we took home a different bone anchored hearing device to trial and it didn’t reach our expectations.” – Laurie Jarvis

Talia’s mother, Laurie, began doing her own research because of the severe feedback issues Talia was experiencing. She began speaking to other users online in Facebook groups like this one and this one that helped her find the Ponto 3 SuperPower and halt her current bone anchored hearing system order until Talia trialed the Ponto. “I told my doctor that if they didn’t let us trial the Ponto device we would be switching to someone else, ” she explains.

Since receiving her Ponto 3 SuperPower Talia’s world has expanded and is happy to wear her device all day. She is now learning language and her mother says she can hear the differences in sounds. 

“With the Ponto, she cried the first time I took it off at night. The next morning she pointed to it on the dresser and every day since then it’s the very first thing she asks for in the morning.

Before it was hard to get her to sit still to read a story. Now she will ask for book after book after book. She wants to learn new vocabulary and is constantly asking me what this and that is. That interest was not there before.” – Laurie Jarvis

One of the greatest differences her family has witnessed is seeing her discover a love for music. At home, Talia now enjoys listening to her sister play the piano, a sound that until recently was something she had not heard.

 

“My oldest daughter was playing the piano one morning and Talia was sitting in her highchair eating breakfast and she looked at me and she pointed to my daughter who was playing and she signed ‘piano; It was obvious that she was hearing something different.” – Laurie Jarvis

If you’d like to learn more about the latest Ponto device – Ponto 3 SuperPower, click below to be connected with an audiologist.

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What I’m doing with my Ponto – a readworthy roundup of accomplishments

Our community is filled with individuals who have overcome tremendous obstacles, advocated for themselves and others, and ultimately found the right hearing solution in the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System. Below we’ve highlighted just a few of our incredible community members in hopes that their stories will inspire and motivate, and continue to remind us of what human determination and persistence can achieve.

You can’t be what you can’t see – Marie Wilson 

Annika Sappington – heart warrior

Annika was born with bilateral microtia and atresia and last November was implanted with bilateral Ponto 3 SuperPowers. This month, she underwent open heart surgery to correct a heart anomaly and journeyed from Texas to Boston with her family for the operation. While Annika was in recovery, she wore one of her Ponto’s so she could hear her family, nurses and doctors entering the room.

“She refused to take her Ponto off for four days straight. 24/7 without turning it off. She wanted to be able to hear when the staff came in at night to check her vitals and give pain meds. I thought for sure the battery would run down with nonstop use and it hasn’t.” – Shannon Sappington, Annika’s mother

After a successful surgery, Annika traveled back to Texas, using her Streamer to enjoy her flight home where she is now recovering and jumping back into Summer activities.

“I love that on airplanes Annika can plug her streamer into the screen and it bluetooths to her Pontos—she can watch AND hear movies! Without that streamer, she wouldn’t be able to hear the movie since she has no ears for headphones. The streamer is her own personal headphone! It’s the little things that make a BIG difference!” Shannon Sappington

Emma Bowie – A chance to dance

Emma Bowie was born with left ear Microtia and has a Ponto Plus on a softband. 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. ‘A Chance to Dance’ and Emma were featured on TODAY in a heartwarming video about the studio.

This year she competed at Nationals in a dance duo where she won Gold, earned 2nd place in her category and placed 13th out of 36 duos. Next month, she will be traveling to Secaucus, NJ for the World Dance Championship, and we’re wishing her the best of luck!

Anthony Smith – A real “Hear-O”

You might recognize Anthony Smith by a different name – “Blue Ear”. Blue Ear is a fictional superhero created by Marvel in honor of Anthony, a 9-year old Ponto user who also happens to love comic books. Anthony and his family inspired Marvel Comics to create a new superhero with a listening device, which led to the design of a comic that was distributed as an educational tool for children in NYC public schools. The comic helped teach children about hearing loss and why bullying is intolerable.

This year, Anthony was honored by the Children’s Hearing Institute at the UN, and took home the Hearing “Hear-O” Award for his advocacy and being a real-life inspiration to children with hearing loss all around the world.

Sarah Sabal – engineering her future

Sarah Sabal was unaided until the age of 7.5 when she was adopted by the Sabal family. She now has bilateral Lewin Ears and wears bilateral Oticon Medical Ponto 3 SuperPowers on abutments. She was recently accepted into a competitive engineering pipeline internship program with a multinational power company based in the UK. She is a top student, with the opportunity to pursue a number of different opportunities. Her mother Angela mentioned their concern about wearing the engineering hard hat over her Ponto 3 Superpowers.

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“My biggest worry was the engineering hard hat not fitting over her processors and having to reimplant her, but it was needless worry because the hard hat fits with zero feedback!!” – Angela Sabal

Isabella Rodriguez – advocating for herself on and off the court 

Isabella was born with microtia and atresia and began wearing a Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System in 2015. She is now in high school and plays competitive volleyball while wearing her Ponto, which she says helps her hear her coaches and teammates. In 2017, she participated in the State Wide Oratorical Contest for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and took first place. She is now preparing for college next year, where she intends to play volleyball at the collegiate level.

 

“I’m proving people wrong. It’s not just me, anyone with a hearing loss can do it, you just need to keep pushing.” – Isabella Rodriguez

If you’d like to learn more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower for yourself or your child, click below.

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“Her speech has taken off” – Why Staci Taylor chose the Oticon Medical Ponto for her daughter Lexi

Staci Taylor’s daughter, Alexia (Lexi), was born with microtia and atresia on her right side. As many do, Staci began the journey unsure of all of the options for Lexi’s hearing loss. Lexi was aided when she was five months old with a Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS) on a softband, and up until that point her family had never heard of the Ponto System.

Upon her daughter’s diagnosis of microtia and atresia, Staci joined several online support groups such as the BAHA Kids Club, where she was able to connect with other parents when the feedback from Lexi’s original BAHS became too overwhelming. Below are a few of the comments and suggestions other parents and bone anchored hearing users shared.

However, because Staci had already received a BAHS through her insurance, she was concerned another BAHS would not be covered. After a long battle with her insurance company, it was through the donor program of the BAHA Kids Club that Staci’s daughter was able to try a Ponto Plus on a softband. “She has had the device for about three months and we have little to no feedback. Her speech has taken off! Before the Ponto, she was only saying a handful of words here and there. Now she is stringing 2-3 words together!” Staci says.

Along with an increase in speech, Staci mentioned that she can whisper a question to Lexi on her right side and she responds without missing a beat. “After her first screening with her Ponto in the sound booth, she did better than she ever has before,” Staci explains.

When asked what her hearing journey with her daughter has taught her so far she said, “Ask about all your options and don’t settle. I pushed several times and finally was able to get our doctor to call an Oticon Medical representative in for our appointment. Now the whole staff at our hospital is Oticon Medical trained. Don’t give up. 

If you are interested in learning more about the latest addition to the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System – the Ponto 3 SuperPower – for yourself or your child click below.

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Transitioning from softband to abutment: A video diary of Calvin Underwood’s journey

When a child and parent feel ready to make the switch from wearing a Ponto on a softband to an abutment, there are a number of steps that can help prepare a family. To better illustrate the journey, Brittney Underwood is sharing her son Calvin’s story of preparing for his bilateral abutment surgery in June, where he will be receiving two Ponto 3 SuperPowers.

Video one: Why Calvin is transitioning to Ponto 3 SuperPowers on abutments

“Because he’s wearing his Pontos on a softband he’s not getting the access that he would have if it was direct bone contact” – Brittney

 

Video two: How Brittney is helping her son Calvin prepare for abutment surgery

“We’ve been explaining it to Calvin and showing him pictures of abutments.” – Brittney

 

Video three: Calvin’s recovery from his abutment surgery

“It went really well. He’s not having any pain, he’s just really tired.” – Brittney

 

Video four: Calvin’s recovery from his abutment surgery

“His abutments are healing amazingly.” – Brittney

 

Video five: Calvin receives his Ponto 3 SuperPowers on his abutments!

“He’s snapped on!” – Brittney

 

Video six: Improvements after Calvin’s abutment surgery

“Calvin has exploded in speech. We are loving this new processor and the abutment!” – Brittney 

Video seven: Improvements after Calvin’s abutment surgery

“We are seeing so many big things since he was snapped on! Here he is saying the alphabet with Alpha pig!” – Brittney

 

Are you interested in learning more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower for your child? Click below and a member of our team will be in touch.

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Michael gets a Ponto 3 SuperPower with the help of Ear Community and Oticon Medical

Meet one-year-old Michael Mitrovich, who was born with a cleft palate, a small right ear and because of IUGR, did not grow at a normal rate during pregnancy. His parents, Azziza and Matthew, were overwhelmed and disheartened by Michael’s diagnosis and complications but were on a mission to do everything they could to give him the help he needed.

After having trouble with insurance, Azziza reached out to Ear Community for help. With the help of Michael’s audiologist, Dr. Deedra Alford from Childrensent, a Pediatric ENT practice of Atlanta, Michael received his Ponto 3 SuperPower in just a few weeks!

On April 14, 2018 Michael received a newly donated Ponto 3 SuperPower on a softband from Oticon Medical that was donated through the Ear Community organization.

“His face lit up, and his parents could tell how much wonder he had at the new sounds he could hear.”

“For such a little boy, he has had to fight some big battles, and we are so excited for the opportunity to help him on his journey. A very warm thank you to Dr. Alford, who not only donated her time to program and fit Michael’s device, but also requested an additional third year of services for his Ponto 3 SuperPower so that his family can rest assured that his Ponto is covered and will work to help him hear his best for a long time.” – Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community.

Are you interested in learning more about the Oticon Medical Ponto for yourself or your child? We’d be happy to connect with you an audiologist in your area: click below and let us know!

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Advice from 8 Ponto Parents

Finding the right hearing solution for your child’s individual hearing loss can be difficult. While research is an important aspect of finding the right solution, we also believe there is power in stories and listening to what others have to say about their experience.  Below we’ve brought together advice from eight parents who chose Ponto for their children.

Research, research, research

“I just want to make other people aware that there are other options. Check other resources to make sure you are making an informed decision right away. I quickly learned that no one is going to give me all the information I need.” – Caroline Mannato

“Research those (Facebook and other groups) boards. Don’t allow yourself to be saddled with one device because your audiologist doesn’t want to try something different. Fight for your children’s rights. Make sure you know you have options.” – Jillian Shelton

Social media groups can not only provide community but valuable information

“Look to social media support groups on Facebook, like this one and this one, to help research options and talk to adults and who are wearing the devices you are interested in. – Liz Anderson

“Ultimately, what helped was knowing there are people just like her out there.” – Theresa McCorkell

“The stories that adults and older children were telling were the stories we needed to hear.” – Erin Bullock

Trial other options

“Insist on trialing all options. It’s definitely worth the time it takes.” – Laurie Jarvis

“Try all your options, on your child and yourself, to help you make the most informed decision for your family.” – Heidi Jeffs

“If you have an audiologist who is not open to trying a different company, push or go elsewhere – just do your research.” – Liz Anderson

“Advocate, because our children need us.” – Shannon Gordon

Interested in learning more about these Ponto families? Click below to read more in-depth into their individual hearing journey in our new Patient eBook.

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Advocating for a better solution – Dominic’s journey to the Ponto 3 SuperPower

When Caroline Mannato’s son, Dominic, was born with unilateral microtia and atresia she worked with her audiologist to quickly have him aided with a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS). At six months old, he received his first BAHS, however, acoustical feedback was a constant issue.

“He has curly hair and the curls kept hitting the device and just from his hair, it would create feedback. It was constantly buzzing. I realized within the first few weeks this was not acceptable.” – Caroline Mannato

Caroline enrolled her son in an early intervention program to do monthly speech evaluations and through this program, she was able to connect with another mother whose daughter also had microtia and atresia.

“I invited her over for coffee and she brought her daughter’s Ponto device. I mentioned my feedback issues and she said they hadn’t experienced any. We compared my device to hers and I asked her ‘how do you turn it on’. She said it was on – it wasn’t vibrating or making any noise. I had mixed emotions thinking ‘why don’t I have this for my child’.” – Caroline Mannato

The Mannato family began researching and going to hearing events around the country trying to educate themselves on all available options. From Ear Community picnics to the Earicles Microtia Atresia Conference in California, and Vanderbilt Microtia and Atresia Clinic in Tennessee, Caroline specifically sought out adults who were BAHS users to speak to. She found that many adults had started with other BAHS’s and eventually switched to the Oticon Medical Ponto. It was these patient interactions and stories that confirmed for Caroline that Dominic needed the Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing System.

Dominic received the Ponto 3 SuperPower and was the first person programmed with a Ponto device at UNC-Chapel Hill. The results since then have been night and day.

“When we take it off, he points at it and he wants it. Then you put it on him and he smiles. Leaving the house is less of a hassle too now. I don’t have to take it off and put it back on him to prevent feedback. When it’s on, it’s on.” – Caroline Mannato

To other parents who are also on the journey of finding the best hearing option for their child, Caroline’s advice is research, because you have options.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the latest Ponto device – Ponto 3 SuperPower – click below to be connected with an audiologist. 

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From fearful to fearless – how advocacy helped Cierra McCorkell receive her abutment surgery

Cierra McCorkell was born with bilateral hearing loss with microtia and atresia on the left side.

She received her first Ponto Bone Anchored Hearing device in 2012 when she was in 6th grade after her hearing loss had progressed. She began wearing a Ponto Pro on a headband and continued with the headband until she was in high school. When discussing the possibility of surgery, she found the decision overwhelming, and surgery was a frightening thought.

“Just the word alone made her afraid. I have always let her choose for herself when she is ready to do something so this decision was solely on her.” – Theresa McCorkell

While researching bone anchored hearing, Cierra’s mother Theresa found the blog of a Ponto advocate who had written about her recent surgery to have her abutment placed. Theresa commented that her daughter was afraid of the surgery which sparked an online conversation that would lead Theresa and Cierra to Oticon Medical’s annual patient advocacy conference to learn more about the procedure.

Overcoming a fear of surgery
In October of 2016, Cierra and her mother attended the Oticon Medical Patient Advocacy Workshop. It was there, among fellow Ponto users, that Cierra expressed her fear of surgery and where she learned first hand about the Minimally Invasive Ponto Surgery (MIPS) procedure.

“She had never met anyone like her. But now she saw other children and adults who were doing great with the surgery and that helped her a lot. Cierra was nervous because she doesn’t talk about her hearing loss and we didn’t know what to expect. We had a great time and we learned a lot. She made friends and it opened up a whole new conversation for her to learn how to advocate for herself now that she is getting older.” – Theresa McCorkell

On the last day of the conference, Cierra announced that she had made the decision to move forward with abutment surgery thanks to the stories and information provided by fellow advocates.

Surgery and activation
On September 1, 2017, Cierra was implanted using the MIPS procedure. Her mother comments that the surgery was less than an hour and without complications. Four months after her abutment was placed, Cierra was finally able to snap on her Ponto Pro, which her mother captured in the video below.

 

“Ultimately, what helped was knowing there are people just like her out there.” – Theresa McCorkell

If you’d like to learn more about the latest Ponto device – Ponto 3 SuperPower, click below to be connected with an audiologist.

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Powerful sound: How the Ponto 3 SuperPower is making a difference for these Ponto families

This past October, we sat down with parents of children who use the Ponto bone anchored hearing system and asked them about three important aspects of the bone anchored hearing experience – the power of choice, discovering the difference, and powerful sound.

Powerful sound

The Ponto 3 SuperPower gives premium sound quality, as well as helps reduce the effort spent on listening. Loud sounds remain loud but not distorted, and softer sounds are audible.

When there are conversations and background noise, your brain has to work harder to make sense of the sounds it hears, which can leave you or your child feeling drained.The Ponto 3 SuperPower helps reduce the extra listening effort the brain expends to compensate for a hearing loss, freeing up mental energy for more important things in life.

In the video below, these families share their experiences with the Ponto 3 SuperPower and how the sound quality has made a difference in their children’s lives.

 

Interested in learning more about the Ponto 3 SuperPower as a possible hearing solution for your child? Click below to be connected to an audiologist.

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