Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We were listening to "Eleanor Rigby" yesterday (because it was a Tuesday, and Ben wanted to celebrate by listening to the Beatles), and I realized that in fact the only instrumentation is the string ensemble (orchestrated by George Martin) -- none of the Beatles actually play their own instruments on that one. So it's not too surprising that Ben would recognize that melody played on the violin. Well, maybe it still is -- music appreciation with a CI is iffy, as a quick survey of the adult CI-user blogs on deafvillage will confirm.

What I'm really wondering is how much of Ben's apparent appreciation of melody is due to his bimodal hearing (CI + HA), and how much can be attributed to the Fidelity 120 processing strategy on his Advanced Bionics CI. I'll never know for sure, but it would be nice to gain a little insight into this as he gets older and can describe his perceptions.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More tidbits....

  • My sister suggested that I test Ben's melody recognition ability by playing some of his favorite songs on other instruments (without lyrics). Interestingly, he recognized "Eleanor Rigby" immediately when I played it on the violin, but not at all on the piano, even after I played it several times. I wonder if it's because the violin's timbre is closer to that of the Beatles' guitar and vocals (as well as the string accompaniment in the Beatles' version) than that of the piano. Further investigation is warranted.
  • Oh, I should mention that I certainly wasn't playing in the original key, so he recognized the melody even after it was modulated into a different key. I'm wondering how that relates to Dan Connell's ongoing efforts to calibrate his pitch perception via his CI.
  • At dinner on Saturday, I was chatting with Ben. Neil was out of town at a conference. I said to Ben, as I've said on many occasions, "You're the best Ben ever." He responded with, "Best Ben in the whole wide world?" His articulation was almost perfect (for an 18 month old), so I understood him immediately, but I couldn't quite believe he had said this. How on earth could he come up with something like that on his own? So I asked, "Did Daddy say that you're the best Ben in the whole wide world?" And he said (and signed) "Yes." (He almost always signs "yes".) Okay, mystery solved -- the phrase "Best Ben" triggered his memory of something Neil had said. So the next day I asked Neil about this, and he said that yes, he had probably said something along these lines at some point, but not recently, and not with any particular emphasis. The point is that Ben does this to us all the time -- we'll use a phrase fairly casually, and two weeks later he'll spout it back to us under very different (but appropriate) circumstances. The kid has an amazing memory.

Friday, April 24, 2009


You have GOT to check out this video:

Annie is the four year old daughter of an old childhood friend of Neil's. He just reconnected with him after many years, and found out that his daughter is also Connexin-26 deaf and has bilateral AB implants. (Small world!) In this video, Annie asks the Four Questions (in Hebrew!!!!) at the Passover seder. I don't think many hearing four year olds could do anywhere near this well! She's just amazing!

Monday, April 20, 2009

How it's supposed to go....

Check out this lovely story:

Our CI surgeon gives out his e-mail address -- and actually responds when we e-mail him! Now, all of us could tell tales of some health professionals we've dealt with on the far opposite end of the helpfulness spectrum, but it's nice to know that there are some out there who really go the extra mile.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Yes, he actually said this....

Last night at dinner: "I bet John Lennon eats naan with spinach on it."

Now, keep this in perspective. First of all, it was toddler-speak, intelligible to nobody except his adoring parents who hang on his every utterance and are inclined to interpret it with a generous spirit. Also, he had already mastered smaller portions of the sentence. Ever since he asked me a few days ago whether John Lennon eats Dora cookies, he has been obsessed with the former (in every sense*) Beatle's diet. After much deliberation, we have decided that it encompasses rice, couscous, cheerios, yams, noodles, yogurt -- in short, whatever Ben is eating at the time. After I responded to some of his queries about John's eating habits with "I bet he does -- I bet John Lennon does eat couscous with yam," he picked up on the phrase. And when he observed last night that the proper way to eat saag paneer is to smear it on some naan, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. It was just a question of stringing the parts together properly. After several attempts, he managed it, to my slack-jawed amazement and enthusiastic applause.

He has added "Eleanor Rigby" to his rotation, taking some of the pressure off his old stand-bys like "Yellow Submarine" and "All Together Now". Having identified Bob Dylan's image on the Sgt. Pepper's cover, we've occasionally turned our attention to "Tangled Up in Blue". He is also a Jonathan Richman fan, and his favorites there are "Circle I" and (I know I'm going to get some concerned e-mail from Ben's various grandparents about this one) "Lesbian Bar". (Trust me, it's a cute song, primarily about dancing.)

*The astute reader will note that Ben is clearly unaware that the Beatles broke up forty years ago, or that half of them are regrettably no longer with us. As far as he is knows, the Beatles are a going concern, and they spend most of their time in the Yellow Submarine eating couscous and brushing their teeth. Ben is not a keen teeth brusher, and we try to cajole him into accepting this insult upon his person by claiming that it is an established practice among his favorite celebrities and daycare friends.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Play Time!

I'd really like to compile a list of good language play ideas. In the comments section, please share your favorite toys, materials, and activities. I'll get us started:

  • Safari Farm has THE best little plastic animals: Making animal sounds (baaa, mooo, nay-nay, etc.) is a great first step in articulation.
  • Check out these plastic fruits and veggies: We also got him a set that includes very realistic looking bread, butter, eggs, etc. Great way to expand vocabulary. Ben can now name just about everything in the produce section.
  • Babybug Magazine by Cricket Magazine Publishing ( is FANTASTIC. Ben loves it.
  • Ben was so taken by an illustrated version of Humpty Dumpty in an issue of Babybug that we started playing "Humpty X" for a variety of X. Build a wall out of blocks, put a plastic banana on top, and recite: "Humpty Banana sat on a wall. Humpty Banana had a great fall," and push the banana off. After awhile he was completing almost all of it. Expands noun vocabulary and reinforces the idea of a verb (fall) as an action and prepositions (on/off). He's kind've grown out of this now.