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A boy with fluctuating hearing loss

Dear list,

Recently, a woman named Carolyn Knox emailed me about her son who
suffers from a fluctuating hearing loss.  I couldn't answer her
questions.  If any of you can help, I'd appreciate contacting her
directly with a copy to me.  Her main concern is about her son's
ability to understand in a noisy classroom.

Her email address is: "carolyn knox" <cubby@springnet1.com>

I have inserted, below, a copy of our correspondence.

Thanks to any who can help.

- Al
Albert S. Bregman, Emeritus Professor
Dept of Psychology, McGill University
1205 Docteur Penfield Avenue
Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1B1

     Phone:  +1 (514) 398-6103
     Fax: +1 (514) 398-4896
Home phone & Fax: +1 (514) 484-2592
Email:   al.bregman@mcgill.ca

Dr. Bregman,

My eight year old son has fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss.
It is
progressive and fluctuates differently in each ear.

I am interested in how this combined with reverberation and
ambient noise
(making speech sound slurred) would impact his ability to
sequence and
interpret speech and auditory streams.

Is there any research in this area?

on 4/1/02 1:48 PM, Al Bregman at bregman@hebb.psych.mcgill.ca

> Before trying, I'd like to ask some questions.  You mentioned
> that your son has fluctuating sensorineural hearing loss, that
> independent at the two ears.  How fast are these fluctuations?
> -- a few per second?
> -- a few per minute?
> -- a few per hour?
> -- a few per day or longer?
> Second, what form do the fluctuations take at the above rate:
> -- a reduced loudness, but some sound is still audible at that
>     ear?
> -- a complete cut-off of hearing during some part of the
>     fluctuation?

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "carolyn knox" <cubby@springnet1.com>
> To: <bregman@hebb.psych.mcgill.ca>
> Sent: 30-Mar-02 12:13 PM
> Subject: Speech recognition and auditory processing

Dear Dr. Bregman,

Thank you for your kind reply. The most  difficult part, aside
from thinking
about the future, is working with our School District, and trying
understand how his speech recognition is impacted by noise,
the fluctuations, time, and language of peers. He is in a gifted
of 25 children, all highly verbal.

When Cubby was diagnosed at 5, he went from 20 dB hearing loss at
500 Hz to 60 dB at 2000. Now he
goes from (20-60) at 500, 1000,  to 90 at 8000. The sensorineural
loss looks
like a presbycusis slope.

 His fluctuations affect the 500 Hz to 1000 range and change from
20 to 60dB
depending on the day. In the last year the entire curve has been
moving down.

The fluctuations vary, but I do not know about second to second.
I only
screen in the morning and sometimes at night. They do vary within
a day and
sometimes stay the same for a week, but rarely more than
that...with your
question, I will test more frequently to get a better measure.

He does describe the quality of sound in his left ear as being
clearer than
his right ear. He describes speech as more distorted with
mumbling for his
right ear. They fluctuate differently, and although his right ear
is worse,
they are within 20 dB of each other.

He has not yet experienced a complete cut off of hearing. In the
500 to 1000
range he has only dropped to 60 dB, but the way things are going
I fully expect
sometime they may do this. One of his class mates with a CI
experienced deaf
episodes last year.

CT scans indicated a normal cochlea.

I called Auditech and asked if they had a multitalker tape with
voices. We are going to make some tapes of childrens voices in a
classroom and school cafeteria with a digital camera.

At his age, it seems that background noise with childrens voices
is more
indicative of auditory distraction in his classroom.

This is all so complicated! Auditory perception is fascinating...


Carolyn Knox,M.A.
"carolyn knox" <cubby@springnet1.com>