We are on the right path now. You have to do your research if you want to make an informed decision. - Caroline Mannato
When Caroline Mannato’s son, Dominic, was born with microtia and atresia she worked with her audiologist to quickly have him aided with a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS), however acoustical feedback was a constant issue.
Searching for other options
At 6 months old, Dominic received his first BAHS but experienced significant feedback issues.
“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 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’.”
The Mannato family began 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.
“My son can’t speak, so I needed to talk to adults and older children who were wearing these devices. All the adults had the Oticon Medical Ponto. Many started with other devices and switched. That confirmed it and I knew we needed to get this device.”
After struggling with her insurance company who said they wouldn’t cover another bone anchored hearing device, Caroline reached out to Oticon Medical and was provided with a Ponto 3 SuperPower (P3SP) to try and the results have been incredible.
A powerful difference
The experience became not only a learning opportunity for Caroline and her family but for her doctors as well. They programmed the P3SP for Dominic and he was the first person to be programmed with the Ponto device at UNC Chapel Hill.
“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.”
Advice to parents
To other parents who might also be dissatisfied, Caroline’s advice is to keep researching.
“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.”