Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What I've seen so far: Medical

General health: Axel is said to be very healthy. He doesn't catch colds often or have the usually health issues related to Down syndrome. I suspect this has to do with limited exposure to new people. I was told the foster family took him everywhere, but if that's the case, why did he act like he'd never seen stairs before, in a country that rarely has elevators and EVERY building has stairs??? I'm willing to place money on him getting a cold or something in his first couple weeks home.

Hearing: This is my biggest concern at this point. I spent 20+ years as a Sign Language Interpreter for deaf/hard of hearing students. I was frequently able to spot kindergarten students with hearing loss before they even did screenings at the beginning of the school year. They're TOO visual, and after the newness of of an interpreter in their classroom wore off for the other kids, these kids were still watching me more than a child without hearing loss. Sometimes they watched me as much as the deaf student I was interpreting for! And then there is Angela, with a moderate hearing loss who's been wearing hearing aids since she was a year old.

Enter Axel. He clearly hears many things, but he certainly does not hear well! It is more than just wax and/or fluid in his ears. Although he has grown up in Serbia, he only has a handful of Serbian words and those are approximations, and largely vowel sound words. He has already aquired about 25 signs now (far too many at this stage! A child with normal hearing would have acquired the words this fast, not the signs.) Although he is a master imitator (a survival skill for kids who have hearing loss) he is not able to imitate most vowel sounds. You can forget consonants all together. He IS saying his first English word now though!!! Can you guess what it is?


HA! Typical kid. But his "No!" sounds like "ngo", its all nasally....typical for a child with significant hearing loss. He doesn't tune into sounds. A few days ago, a stray dog charged us, barking and growling, coming within about 3 feet of Axel. But the dog was just out Axel's line of vision, and he was oblivious to the charging, barking dog. Neither Dean nor I are bothered by the fact he probably has a hearing loss. Actually, it kind of makes me laugh. Of course God would give me a child with a hearing loss. Look at my only makes sense! Needless to say, hearing is one of the first things we'll get checked out when we get home!

Eyes/Vision: His visual perception skills are TERRIBLE when doing stuff with pens and markers on paper. Some of that is just his lack of exposure to those materials, and he'll have to go through the learning process, so it's kind of hard to sift through what's what. But Axel makes the "Pirate face" a lot (squinting one eye) and often tilts his head while watching TV, both indicators of being far sighted. I see glasses in his very near future. I think this will also make a difference for him doing stairs as well, as his depth perception is probably affected.

He also has blocked tear ducts, and almost always has a tear running down his cheek.

Toileting: Axel is completely trained during the day, but not at night. He has woken up soaked every single morning. Except today! Today he woke up dry, so there is hope! LOL Two years ago I purchased a bedwetting alarm for Angela and it worked FANTASTIC! I see Axel using that in the very near future, although we'll get him home and into a routine first. The alarm is a pitch/volume/tone that he DOES hear, so I think it will work. If not, they do have a shaker alarm available as well. I guess we'll see. Pray for me. LOL

Teeth: Axel's teeth are a rotten mess! He is missing 4 that appear to have been pulled or rotted out on their own. (there are holes in his gums where they were.) I can see one broken molar, and the ONE time I got him to open his mouth I could see what appeared to be several cavities. They could be stains though. I have a friend here in Serbia who is a dentist. If he has time before we fly home he is going to see if he can look in Axel's mouth. It will be easier for him since he speaks Serbian. Otherwise, Angela is scheduled for a dentist appointment right after I come home, and they have now set aside an extra 1/2 hr to take a look at Axel's teeth as well, though I'm guessing he won't let them in his mouth! I see oral surgery in his near future.

Skin: His skin is in pretty good condition, other than a few small white spots on his wrist (like white heads, but they're hard. I can't remember what they're called.) He gets a little dry rash around his mouth, but that is minor and nothing a little aquaphore can't clear up.

Gastrointestinal: This system is working GREAT!


  1. One thing also... when a baby is born, they have the ability to imitate any sound. After age one, the sounds they don't hear they will lose that easy ability to imitate. I would say his pronunciation will change as he hears more and more of the sounds you say that are so starkly different to what he's heard his entire life. So, the hearing may not be so bad as you think.

    Also, another consideration and we deal with this ourselves (me)... allergies. We have allergies to pet dander (Eden) and dairy (me). When I eat fudge for example, my sinuses get all bunged up... I have trouble hearing, and at night I have to mouth breath because I can't breath. If he has any allergies, he could be simply suffering from the swelling that occurs from that.

    So, just a couple things to consider... (maybe hope for lol).

    He is so cute, Leah. I wish you were flying through London so we could go meet him! (and you lol!)

  2. Most (not all, but most) of the vowel sounds in the two languages are the same. There are a couple consonants that are difficult for english speaking people to produce, and a couple that are difficult for serbian speaking people to produce. I've only been working with the ones that are common to both, that he should know at 10 years old having heard them his entire life. Again, this is FAR more than just fluid or plugged ears. This is a significant loss. To put it very bluntly, even his gibberish (because he doesn't speak Serbian really either) sounds like a deaf child. But, we'll see what the ENT says. I'm not going to bother with a booth hearing test though, he'll need a sedated ABR and first he's going to need his AAI screening done, plus meet with all the specialists, because we'll do eyes, teeth and ears all at once. We call those "tune ups". LOL

  3. We knew that Vladan's glasses were too strong, but the eye doctor couldn't really get him to cooperate too much. He loves gadgets too much, and all the gadgets in the eye doctor's office had his attention too much! But the doctor was able to see enough to know that his glasses are too strong, and he may not even need them at all. But we ordered ones that are able 1/2 strength of these ones...we'll see how that works. LOL! Getting him to understand the new ones are his will be interesting.

  4. I bought the vibrating alarm/hearing impaired alarm for Andy, my brother, who does have hearing loss but can sleep through any alarm(my mom and dad both could ??). It works about 75% of the time, meaning he gets his lazy butt up for college and makes it to class