Saturday, July 29, 2006

Chance continues to progress really well with his implant. It is early in the process, but all indications are the implant was the right choice for Chance. He is thriving. He is hearing things that he just could not hear with hearing aids, and he is picking up things every day. He has a lot of questions, and is constantly asking about his environement. It is easier to explain things to Chance simply because he seems to understand more.
Our focus now is on pronunciation. Chance is acquiring vocabulary and his sentences are longer with more words. Now, we just need to help Chance know the correct way to say words that he has not been hearing quite right for a while. When Chance says something that is not quite right, we will say the words back to Chance with the correct pronunciation. Chance is quite good at saying the words back to us, and he really tries to say it right. Chance has a great desire to learn and communicate with words. Chance is also quite patient with us quiding him in his pronunciation. There is a delicate balance. We don't want to frustrate him or drive him crazy with constant nagging. You already feel as a kid sometimes that your parents are nagging with telling you to clean your room, wash your hands, and don't investigate too far into the bathroom electrical outlet. (Parents are just kill joys sometimes aren't they?) We don't correct him every time he is off on a word, but we try to make him aware of the way common things are really said. Some sounds are still hard for Chance to pronounce of course. Some sounds Chance says back to us, come out the same, even after 3 or 4 attempts by us to show Chance the correct way to say them. This indicates that to Chance, he is saying the words the way we are saying them. Sometimes he will even tell us "I know!" or he'll say the word slower or with more emphasis to let us know that he is saying it.
We are impressed with our little boys dedication to hear and his cheerful disposition as he continues his journey.

Friday, July 28, 2006

"the derby"

It has been a traditon in my family to attend a demolition derby each 24th of July in the city where my grandma used to live. For years we would all go up to grandma's house and participate in all of the town festivities for the 24th of July. Grandma graciously let us all spread out throughout her house in beds, sleeping bags and blankets. It was a highlight of the year. A great family get-together with the ultimate hostess. My grandma passed away several years ago, but the tradition of attending the demolition derby remains. And so it was on Monday night that Chance was at the derby listening to the roaring of the engines, the screeching of the tires and the general racket that accompanies a demoliton derby. Chance's dad thought maybe the noise was too much for Chance and asked if it was too loud. Chance just put on a cheesy smile and said "It's loud! I like it!" So the tradition lives on. Chance makes the 7th generation of my family line to enjoy the mountain views and walk the streets of the little town.
Unfortunaly, the car that Chance wanted to win got locked onto another car in its first heat, but it was a successful outing all the same.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Working with Chance to gain his confidence

Chance in Gymnastics Class

Chance is hearing more and more and his world is opening up. One thing we have begun to realize is, we need to now work on helping Chance build his confidence. Chance has always been a little go-getter. He has never let his hearing loss hold him back. I have always admired that about him.
However, I think that Chance has become accustomed to people not listening to him. That is heartbreaking to me. There is not a lot of awareness of what deaf children are capable of, and many people just don't understand what they can expect of a child with hearing aids.
We were asked several times, "Can Chance hear me?" Even from people that Chance has known since he first got hearing aids. People just are not aware of how capable these kids can be. And with his hearing aids, sometimes Chance did not hear people, but many people did not expect him to hear, and acted accordingly. Chance tended to talk quietly and I had watched several times as he tried to talk to people and they would not realize that he was talking to them and would not respond, or walk away. I don't think that many people expected him to talk to them honestly. We spent a lot of time explaining to people that Chance had the ability to talk and that was actually his prefered method of communication.
Now, we need to help Chance see that he will be heard and that he should continue to approach people. This week while Chance had a cousin visiting he said to me, "I want her to help me." I told him to go tell her that he wanted help. Chance was a little nervous about this, but I hope that we can help him see that what he has to say is important and that people will listen. As Chance's abilities grow, I think his confidence will follow.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chance passes the sound booth test with flying colors!!!!

Today was the first time Chance had a booth test since he got the cochlear implant. For adults you raise your hand when you hear the beeps. Chance puts a toy next to his ear to signal that he is ready and then drops the toy into a container when he hears the sounds. Chance's dad was in the booth with Chance and I was in with the audiologist, on the other side of the glass. Chance's face is a give away when he hears a sound. His expression tells you before he puts the toy in the container what he is hearing. Chance's dad was skeptical that Chance could be hearing all of the sounds but I had a good view of his face and knew it was true. In the end, Chance was getting sound awarenesss in the BORDERLINE NORMAL RANGE and speech recognition at about 30db. What does that mean? It means that Chance was picking up the presence of sound in a normal hearing range. He was recognizing actual speech in the mild hearing loss range. When wearing hearing aids, Chance never heard at the 30 db range. With out any amplification at all, Chance is severly to profoundly deaf and does not hear any speech sounds at all. (He starts hearing in most frequencies at 90 to 100 db. Normal conversational speech is at about 35-45 db) The audiologist was quite amazed that Chance has come so far so fast. We of course were thrilled. The booth of course is a perfect environement that is silent with no back ground noises whatsoever. In real life cars go by, classmates giggle, the air-conditioning / heat is on, and your siblings are running up and down the hall all of which make noise. But the fact that Chance could detect the sounds where he did and even differentiate between words is a miracle. We were told that sometimes parents are disappointed at the first booth test because the child does not give the results the parents are hoping for. Not a problem with us!! We're elated with the results!!! This is what we were hoping and praying for! And it came much earlier than we expected.
This does not mean Chance's hearing is perfect or that he will hear normal from now on. And Chance will still require extensive speech therapy and struggle to hear sometimes. BUT WE HAVE LIFT OFF!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What? Why? What?

Children that are Chance's age usually ask a lot of questions. The world is new and full of wonder. Chance asks even more questions than average. Before Chance got the implant, we had been told that some kids start asking questions on a continual basis once they get the implant. We thought this might happen with Chance as he is inquisitive anyway. Sure enough, Chance has a question for every situation. Who was I talking to on the phone? Why am I laughing? Where am I going? Why is Phil(the bus driver) not coming? Why is there no school on Monday? What did that man say? Why do the people in National Geographic not have clothes on?(oops!) I think Chance is realizing more and more that there is a world of sound around him and he wants to know what is going on. He asked lots of questions when he wore hearing aids, but he is asking even more now. Now he picks up on parts of the conversations more often and wants to know what the context is and what he missed. Chance's ability to hear more is opening up more of the world to him. We are very excited for him and the journey that he is embarking on.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Once a mom, always a mom...to everyone

I have noticed something about Chance's deaf friends that is different from his friends who are not deaf. Chance's deaf friends refer to me as mom. Not just on occasion or by mistake, but every time they address me. And Chance's dad is well, dad. Chance's friends who are not deaf, do not call me mom except maybe by mistake and then they quickly correct themselves. My theory is this......the deaf kids don't pick up on the names like the hearing kids do.....and they don't have the vocabulary. Maybe we as parents don't fill our deaf kids in on what to call other people because it just doesn't occur to us. It is interesting. I don't know if Chance calls other parents mom and dad...I'll have to start asking around.
Chance's imagination has really blossomed the last little while. Part of that is just his age, but I wonder if part of it can be attributed to the fact that he is hearing more. For instance, Chance has said that he "hears" a passing army helicopter shooting. And a monster has apparently taken up residence near the ditch. Chance has seen the monster many times (as have his friends his age both deaf and those with normal hearing). But today, Chance told me that he heard the monster. Funny thing is, contractors were putting in an air-conditioning unit for the house next door and there were lots of knocking sounds that went along with the installation. And the work was being done pretty darn close to where the monster was spotted.Coincidence?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Expect it !

Back in November of last year, The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing(whew!), had their annual conference at the Uof U. The guest speaker was Carol Flexor, a leading authority in audiology and oral-deaf issues. She gave a great presentation and basically told us parents not to settle when it came to our kids and their abilities. Something she said continues to occupy my thoughts. She said "expect your kids to hear 20 to 30 feet away." At the time, I was astounded. 20 to 30 feet? Chance certainly did not hear 20 to 30 feet away on a regular basis. Infact, he rarely heard you at 20 to 30 feet away. That changed today. I noticed that Chance was getting ready to turn on the hose in the backyard and so I stepped out onto the porch to tell him to stop. I called his name twice and Chance did not seem to hear. Then, on the third time, Chance looked up, and all around and then his eyes settled on me and I was able to tell him not to turn on the hose from the porch which is about 30 feet away! I was not talking in an everyday voice, but I was not yelling either. And the wind was blowing pretty good plus there were all of the noises that you find outside. The fact that my little boy could hear me call him from 30 feet away is reason to celebrate indeed!!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What's in a name?

So, I learned during speech therapy this week that I need to adjust to Chance being able to hear. Apparently, I got so used to tapping Chance to get his attention, that I am still doing that sometimes. In the past it was a necessity because sometimes Chance just could not hear me. However, now I must use Chance's name and wait for him to respond. And Chance is responding, because he is hearing me call his name. Chance is literally learning to hear his name. Most of us spend our lives focused on our name without even thinking about it. If you hear someone using your name across the room, you tune in to see if you can catch the conversation. Chance's deafness has kept him from hearing his name across the room. Until now. Will the implant give Chance the hearing he would have had if he never went deaf? No. But Chance is able to hear his name more and more and learn to respond and listen for it. Now, if his mom can remember that she doesn't have to tap him to get his attention all the time :)

Friday, July 07, 2006

The blinking light...

Chance's implant has an option to have a little red light that flashes on the hook that goes over the ear. This lets us know that the implant is on. As parents new to this whole implant thing, we decided to have the light on so that we would know that the batteries were not dead etc. Over time, as Chance realizes what the implant does when the batteries are low, we may turn the little blinking light off. For now though, the light makes a lot of people nervous. Several people have let me know that the implant is flashing and are afraid that it is malfunctioning. I have assured some people several times that the blinking is just a sign that the implant is on and working, not a sign of trouble. We have adapted to the blinking and it brings a certain measure of comfort. Last week, we realized that the batteries were dead and Chance had neglected to tell us. For now, the blinking is a great conversation starter.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Fireworks and loud noises oh my...

I have to say, that we love the 4th of July and all that it stands for at our house. We had several discussions, my husband and I about how Chance would react to the loud booms that are part of the 4th of July. Should we take him to the parade? Would the cannons scare him to death? What about the fireworks? Would Chance find the big booming sound as the fireworks were launched a little un-nerving? Would he want to climb under a blanket and curl into the fetal position by the time the festivities were over? Apparently not. Chance had hardly any reaction at all to all of the big boms and piercing whistling of fireworks. At only one time did he turn to us and say that it was loud when we were at the parade and it wasn't during the cannons. It was during a musical number! The cannons, and booming didn't seem to faze Chance. We would ask him if it was loud and he would smile and nod yes and then go back to enjoying the moment. Hmmmm. Very interesting. I did notice Chance covering his ears during one particulary loud, squeeling firework while we were with friends. All of us present were doing that though. Those low frequencies are what Chance heard best before so maybe they were not so new. Still, I think I would be slightly dazed if my hearing had been "turned up" during the 4th of July holdiday.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Creative communication

Chance had a baseball game a few nights ago and was the second baseman. I was standing nearby to help guide Chance in his role as all of the kids on his team are still learning the game and need reminding of what exactly to do with the ball once they get it. Usually one of the parents is at second base reminding kids to try to tag out the runner and giving the runner the assurance that he should indeed run to third. On this day, I was near second base reminding Chance to watch the batter so that he would know to watch for the ball coming his way. I got to observe Chance interacting with other kids his age that he did not know. One of the runners got to second base and did a little jig on the base. Chance laughed and said to me "He is funny. I like him. " Chance didn' t really talk to the boy; instead, Chance started backing off of second a bit, then he would run up and "slide" into second. The runner thought this looked like great fun and soon both Chance and the runner were backing off of second, running up and sliding in. Chance hung back with communicating with language, but he did find a way to connect with this new-found friend. It made me realize that Chance has probably been doing a lot of that kind of communication with other kids. I have heard Chance start conversations with kids he does not know, but I also think that he has hung back some and found other ways to form a connection. I am grateful that Chance did not let his deafness hold him back, but Chance's confidence has been affected by his deafness due to communication issues. I have noticed lately though, that Chance is gaining confidence in his ability to communicate and have people listen and understand him. He still holds back some, but I think he feels the impact of the implant on his abilities. This is very good to see, especially for a mom that wants her son to reach his potential and knows that he is capable of anything.