Our family recently traveled to Houston, Texas to visit the Space Center Houston. When my space-loving children found out, they were ecstatic about getting to walk into a real spaceship at the Houston Space Station. Ayden, my second child, has been so excited that he has been counting down the days for months. While my family was ready to experience all that NASA had in store, as a parent of children with hearing loss, I felt my level of anxiety rise.
I knew that the museum environment would be difficult for my children to hear in, even with their hearing aids on. I did not want them to miss a single part of this experience. Thankfully, because of Phonak’s Roger system, they didn’t have to.
Hearing aids have opened up an entire world for my two hard-of-hearing children. However, there are two limitations that can make hearing tricky at times: noisy environments and distance. These two are the biggest challenges that my kids face when wearing their hearing aids.
“…there are two limitations that can make hearing tricky at times: noisy environments and distance.”
Parenting my children when background noise and distance are present can make communication difficult and parenting extra challenging. When we found that our son couldn’t hear us in certain situations with his hearing aids on – or when we became frustrated because we thought he wasn’t listening – we knew we needed a little bit more support.
We began to look into the Roger systems by Phonak.
The first time we experienced the Phonak Roger Inspiro was when my son entered into preschool. His hearing Itinerant at the time included the use of the system into his IEP. In the United States, an IEP is a document that comes from a Federal law called Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Included in an IEP are strategies to ensure children with disabilities and delays have access to the best education possible. We immediately began to see positive results from using the Roger system at school.
The Roger Inspiro works like a one-way walkie-talkie. One person clips on a microphone, or wears the device around their neck. When they speak, the sound travels directly to receivers that are added to the bottom of the hearing aids. What that looks like for my children is life-changing. It is one more step to dissolve barriers that keep my children from experiencing everything they love to do.
Having the Roger system at school was helpful, but we wanted to have those benefits in a home setting too. Our son’s teacher suggested that we borrow the Roger system for the weekend to see if it helped. After just one weekend, we knew our family would benefit greatly from the Roger system.
The Roger Inspiro breakthroughs the barriers of background noise and distance. Through the microphone and Roger Receivers attached to his hearing aids, we can access all of my children’s natural hearing. When I wear the Roger Inspiro transmitter, I can whisper silly jokes while my son is in the far back of a car on a road trip and make him giggle.
“When I wear the Roger Inspiro transmitter, I can whisper silly jokes while my son is in the far back of a car on a road trip and make him giggle.”
I can give him detailed explanations of what the plans are for the day so that he doesn’t feel left out. Going on bike rides feel safe, because at any moment I can let him know when to stop, slow down or go.
As parents, we are always on guard to make sure our children are safe. Having a child with hearing loss means more awareness of what is going on around us. When we are in a place where background noise or distance are present, my anxiety rises. For an active child, this means many different environments: parks, walks, bike rides, playdates, museums, etc. When we are on a walk, I know I can speak “stop,” even when he is good distance ahead of me and know he can hear me crystal clear.
“When we are on a walk, I know I can speak “stop,” even when he is good distance ahead of me and know he can hear me crystal clear.”
The ease of anxiety that the Roger brings is an incredible gift.
With the Roger Inspiro, our son can hear my every single word like I am right next to him; like he had headphones on and my voice was a podcast playing. The benefit this brings is to help develop speech is outstanding. While hearing aids access many sounds for my children, it is easy for him to confuse similar sounds.
For example, distinguishing between sounds like ‘b’ and ‘p’ or “m’ and ‘n” are difficult. I can say, “Wow, you are so big.” And he might hear, “Wow you are so pig.” Once we started using the Roger system at home, as well as school, his language clarity skyrocketed and his vocabulary expanded.
“Once we started using the Roger system at home, as well as school, his language clarity skyrocketed and his vocabulary expanded.”
When we use the Roger, it makes it one step easier for him to hear us clearly. Typically, even with hearing aids, our son will look at our face, check our expression and utilize basic sign language to make sure he is following what we are trying to communicate. When we use the Roger System it immediately calms him as he has to work less to understand what we are saying.
There are a few Roger options that Phonak has to choose from. For us, there were a few key factors that helped make our decision. The first was distance. We wanted to be able to reach our son when he was far away. With the Roger Inspiro, our children will be able to hear us up to 50-feet away.
The second factor was that we didn’t want him to have to wear anything to be able to hear us. Other systems are amazing with Bluetooth options, but we wanted to make sure he could run around a gym, field or park without something around his neck. While the Roger Inspiro isn’t Bluetooth, it can be plugged into the audio outlet of an iPod, iPhone or any device to have the sound go directly to his hearing aids. We can even use the Roger Inspiro at most movie theatres. We can plug the Roger into the headphone set and the sound will be transmitted to their hearing aids.
When we took the plunge and invested into the Roger system, we watched as frustrating situations turn to enjoyable ones, and scary ones turned anxious free. Not to mention that the clarity in his speech skyrocketed, and his vocabulary jumped.
“…we watched as frustrating situations turn to enjoyable ones, and scary ones turned anxious free.”
The most tangible results happened when my son was getting his hearing tested. The audiologist will typically test him with his hearing aids, without hearing aids, and with the Roger. When he was tested with the Roger Inspiro he was hearing at a better than normal hearing level.
Having the Roger Inspiro system for at home use has truly been an incredible asset for our family to use. Phonak has a number of different systems to choose from such as the Roger Pen, and Roger Touchscreen Mic.
Talk with your child’s audiologist, hearing therapist or hearing center to find out what would be the best choice for you and your family – for home and school.
Are you using Roger technology to communicate with your children? Please let us know in the comments how it’s working, or if you have any questions!