Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chance is new to song titles...

Chance wanted to listen to my ipod today while I was listening to it so I just handed it to him and let him listen to the song that was on. A few minutes later, he came up to me and asked what the name of the song was that he had just listened to.

"I found out about you." I replied looking at him.

Chance put his hand on his chest, in the gesture you make when you are asking, "Who me?," and his brows furrowed.

"You found out about me?!" He asked.

Realizing that Chance was taking this literally, I explained that No, I had not found out about him Chance, but that was the name of the song.

His face relaxed and he went out to tell his dad the name of the song.

Song titles are somewhat new to Chance. He is getting the titles more and more of the new songs that he learns, but he has not tracked the titles of songs before. It is hard to focus on the song titles when you are busy trying to make out the song. And lets face it, song titles are not exactly logical . And some song titles are just plain strange.

So, I was able to assure Chance that I had not found out about him. But maybe I should have. Did he have something to hide:)

Christmas 2007

I sat on the couch on Christmas and watched Chance at the table learning a new game with his grandpa. It was wonderful to listen as Chance walked up to his grandfather and asked what game he had and then asked him to play a game with him. I was so grateful for the fact that Chance could just be a part of our Christmas celebrations as any of the rest of us. He could sit down and watch the Christmas cartoon, or play animal games with his cousins, or learn a new game from his grandpa. Chance was not limited in his interactions with the family.

Chance is hearing so well now, that it is hard to remember that he is deaf sometimes. Gone are the days when he peppered us with "What?" several times a day. Or sat on the sidelines sometimes while he tried to figure out what game his cousins were playing. Chance can now just jump in and play. Sometimes, we need to explain the fine points of what the game is, and how you play, but soon he is off and running just like the other kids. And he can just ask his cousins what game they are playing or what you do in the game.

And Chance is content. He is so full of life, and confident in his ability to communicate with just about anyone be it at the store, or school, or a family reunion.

And he can sit at the table with his grandpa, talking about what he got for Christmas and his grandpa can tease him about which present he wants of Chance to give to him.

Chance has come full circle. He has heard as an infant, gone with out hearing for two years, had partial hearing for two years, and this past year and a half, he has learned to hear again.

Whew! It makes me tired just to think of his journey!

The gift of hearing

I just read an article about hearing loss that talked about how even a mild loss can cause people to withdraw from social situations and create feelings of isolation.

I can see how that would happen. Every once in a while, one of my ears will clog up to the point that I temporarily lose hearing in one ear. It happened again this week end and it about drove me crazy. When we were at church, my kids all just happened to be on the side that was clogged and I could not hear them when they whispered to me. I could not hear right when I led the children in music at church. It just threw me off kilter and I was desperate to make things right again.


I realize that my experience pales to Chance's being deaf, but it gives me enough of a taste that I realize just how important hearing is in interacting with people and going about your daily life.
For instance, someone said something to me, and I responded but I don't think I heard her correctly because she had a confused look on her face as she walked away. Hopefully, it was not anything that she took offense at.

Today I went to the doctor and I am a new woman. When the doctor first came in and started checking my ears, I could not hear him when he was looking in the clogged ear and talking to me. After my ears were cleared out, I realized that there was music playing in the doctors office that I had not been able to hear when I first arrived.


I only had to deal with this annoyance for a few days, but it gave me a whole new appreciation for Chance's implants and the aid they give him in hearing. Sure Chance does not hear everything, but he hears well enough to let him be a part of society around him. He can go to school with his peers, tell the man at the restaurant that he wants root beer and play with any other child in the neighborhood. He can do anything any other child his age can do. He can hear background conversations, and hear what other people around him have to say. He can be a part of things going on around him. We are so profoundly grateful for the implants and the possibilities that they open up for Chance in his life.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Chance has found a need for ear molds!

Chance has finally found a time when he feels that ear molds would be beneficial: Sledding!

Apparently, he has discovered that when he is sledding and he is whizzing down the hill, and accidentally bumps his brother's sled at the bottom, his implants can come off.

One of our friends who is deaf and wears the same implant as Chance, harassed us (teasingly) that the blinking red lights on Chance's implants were not meant to be a tracking device. However, the red blinking light helps locate an implant that may have landed in the snow while sledding, making snow angels are whatever else Chance decides to do in the snow:) We originally turned the red light setting on, because in the beginning we wanted to know when the implants were on and functioning. We were not sure how Chance would react to the implants and the light would give us peace of mind that the batteries were not dead and the implant was on.

Now, we have found several great benefits to the red blinking lights! They start to flicker if the batteries are running low, and when Chance tells us that one needs new batteries, we know which one he means. Of course, Chance is old enough to ensure that the batteries are working and change them if he needs to. But the red light, helps us see him in the dark, in movies, but most important, it helps us to find the implants in the snow etc. It also has helped us locate Chance's implants when he falls asleep with them on, and the room is dark.

We got a beige implant instead of a more vibrant color, because we figured right now subtle would be good. Chance usually wears his hair quite short and so we got the implant that would blend in the best with his hair. Later, if Chance wants a vibrant, bright color, he can go for it. The drawback to the beige color is that it does blend in quite nicely to its surroundings should it be off of Chance's head. It hasn't been a big problem, but the blinking lights have definitely come in handy!

Back to the molds, apparently our money was not spent in vain. Chance sees that they can help him while sledding. And maybe we can carry that over to other sports and activities that the molds can help secure the implants on for.

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chance can make out the tune of the carolers..

We visited a place called Temple Square by our house that has the most beautiful light displays at Christmas time. We tried to pick the warmest night of the week as it can get might chilly at night here at our place.

Since it was night time, we all had thermals, gloves and hats on to ward off the cold. Chance had his coat hat pulled snug around his face and velcroed on the sides of his collar. His mouth was mostly covered leaving just his eyes and nose exposed to the cold.

We are never sure what Chance's implants being covered like this, do to his hearing. Like any of us, his hearing is diminished when his ears are completely covered by a hat.

As we walked from the parking lot to the temple grounds, we passed some exuberant people just leaving. There were three of them and as they passed us, they were singing, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas". Chance turned to me and said, "They are singing, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas!" He had learned that song in school for a concert.

I was kind of surprised that he could make out the song in his bundled up state, the singers were not singing that loud. But then again, Chance continues to surprise and delight us with what he is hearing.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Will you please sign for me?"

Chance, his brother, and I were out Christmas shopping when the cashier noticed Chance's implants. Chance had actually drifted off to look at a nearby shelf, and the cashier said,"Your son has implants?"

"Yes, he does." I replied.

"Oh, I had a sign language class and I heard about those."

Then she didn't say anything else.

It has been our experience that sometimes the information that people have about implants is not on the level sometimes.

"They work really well for him." I ventured.

"Hmmm." She said. Does he know any sign?"

I explained that he knew some, but that he preferred to talk. I told her how Chance has never really took to sign as his primary mode of communication. He would use it to emphasize things, or sign a word or two here and there when he thought we didn't understand what he was saying, but he never signed complete thoughts.

This is a touchy subject with some people, so I just try to let people know that the implants are working for Chance and they can think what they want.

When Chance returned to my side, the cashier asked him,"Will you please sign for me?"

Chance cocked his head and said' "What?"

"Will you sign for me pleeeeease?" She asked.

Chance looked at me.

"Signing -- when you talk with your hands." I explained.

It just so happens that Chance's school class has learned several Christmas songs that they are singing in a concert. One of the songs they learned in sign. All of the first graders in the school learned to sing "Up On The Housetop," while signing. With a little coaxing, Chance sang the song to her while he signed the actions. She was very excited.

It is interesting that she talked to Chance, he responded, to me and to her, but she really wanted him to sign.

Half of having a deaf child is awareness and educating people on what the possibilities are. I don't have anything against signing, I just found it interesting that this cashier was so interested in Chance signing. There was a certain irony to the fact that she verbally asked him to sign, and all conversations were talking, except for the song.

I still wonder what this cashier has heard about implants. She apparently prefers sign:)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Frosty has an implant...

The kids made the most of the snow last night and built two snowmen. One was big and the other was little. Turns out, the biggest one is Frosty the snowman. That is what the kids said and kids always know about these things.

Frosty had the traditional things adorning him....rocks for his eyes, a carrot for his nose, rocks for his mouth, and a rock and two wood chips for his buttons. Along with a scarf and hat to keep him warm.

In all of the stories and pictures of Frosty though, the ears are never present. That all changed last night! Frosty can now hear!! The kids added one of the plastic implants that came with Chance's Koala bear when he had surgery. (certain koala bears have implants too). Chance placed the implant on Frosty himself.

So now, Frosty too can hear. I would think he is grateful after all of these years of not hearing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Chance's imaginary play is more than children's play..

Chance learns a lot of language skills from playing with kids in the neighborhood. The kids are always at our house or outside playing like they are on a dinosaur dig, or rescuing wounded animals from their boat on the sea, or playing store.

Chance and his friends have been playing store lately. They like to have the storekeeper behind the television set. I figured out why when watching them the other day. We have a card that slips into a console on top of the television for our dish network. The kids slide that card in and out like you would a debit card at the store. (Chance's Dad, while reading this, just had the accompanying 'a-ha' moment as to why the card keeps disappearing :> )

They also like to use play money that we have and while Chance was playing cashier he asked me to verify something for him.

"Dimes and quarters and nickels and pennies are not coins!" He said with conviction.

One of his friends had called them coins and Chance was bewildered by this.

"That is another name for quarters dimes, nickels, and pennies." I explained.

Chance learns a lot from playing with other kids his age. His play time is a time of learning as well. I am very grateful because anything that helps Chance to acquire language is a hit with me! And what better way to learn than when you are playing and having a good time with family or friends.

Chance gets to tell his joke...

For several years now, our family has boarded a train headed for the North Pole each December. It is a magical journey filled with cookies from Mrs. Clause, hot chocolate, elves telling jokes and a visit from Santa.

As part of the ride, the elves lead the train in Christmas Carols and let the kids come up to tell jokes. Each year, Chance has watched his brother go up to the microphone and tell a joke. And each year, Chance has longed to be able to tell a joke of his own, but he did not have the language skills to understand and tell a joke.

This year, that all changed! We practiced a joke with Chance so that when the moment came, he could share his joke.

At first, it looked like time would run out before Chance got his turn to tell a joke. His face was earnest as he told us that he had to tell his joke. We were worried that he would leave the train disappointed yet again, when the elves called for any kids up who had a joke to share.
Chance stepped right up to the microphone with out any hesitation and shared his joke which went something like this:
"What is a moose's favorite Christmas plant? Moostletoe!"

Chance was clear and you could understand just what he said. It was great.

Chance beamed as he stepped down back to his seat and so did we. It was so fun to see him be able to participate the way he had always wanted to with his brother. And any other child on the train for that matter.

Adding an extra touching element to the night was Chance turning to me and asking "Can I show Santa that I have implants?"

I told him that he could indeed show Santa that he had implants.

When Santa stopped by our seats to greet the children, Chance leaned in and said, "Santa, I have two implants."

Chance was wearing a santa hat that hid his implants. I slid the hat back so that Santa could see them.

Santa looked at them a second and then said, "That is really neat." Santa then handed him a bell from his sleigh.

Chance broke out in a huge smile.

He was able to share with Santa his implants and what he wanted for Christmas. Two very important things to be able to do when you are 7.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chance and his relationship with the van...

Chance has an interesting relationship with our van. Sometimes, he hears and follows what is going on a lot better than at other times. There are things to take into consideration such as if the radio is on, if other people are talking, what direction people are facing when they are talking, is the heater or air conditioning on high etc.

Sometimes, when Chance is in the van, we have great conversations and Chance just follows along. Other times, he is telling us to repeat ourselves or telling his brothers and sisters,"Be quiet! I can not hear!"
Today, we experienced both in the space of an hour and a half.

We were on our way to visit grandma, and Chance had missed what his brother had said. So, as he sometimes does, he asked us up front what had been said. We told Chance to ask his brother what he had said. Chance then turned around and started talking to his brother. The next thing we knew, Chance was telling us, "Be quiet! I can not hear!"

An hour and a half later, we were driving home from grandmas house and passed police cars and firetrucks off the the side of the freeway. A transfomer was on fire. The kids did not see the fire as it was up on a pole, so I pointed it out to them as we passed.

Both Chance's brother and sister proceeded to tell Chance that there was a fire.

"I know! You do not have to tell me!" Chance informed them

Chance was in the very back of the van and I was driving yet when I asked him why he was upset, he heard me perfectly and told me that everyone kept telling him things that he knew already.

Ok, so apparently, sometimes Chance hears better than at other times. I don't know what exactly makes the difference.

Spring and Fall seem to be good times to hear as the air conditioning and heater are not on high.
Other than that, it remains a bit of a mystery.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chance hears me inhale?

I was in my bedroom when my littlest son walked in with a fire chief hat on.

"Oh!" I gasped and laughed.

As I walked out of my bedroom and into the living room, I heard Chance saying,

'I heard mommy! She is ready now!"

I was blown away. I could not believe that Chance heard me from that far away and through a wall.

Then two days later, while visiting friends, I said something like "Ahh!" in a conversation.

Chance who was in another room, approached me a few minutes later and asked me why I had said "Ahh!"

He IS hearing more and more:)

I want to be the whistle.....

"I want to be the whistle!" Chance called out as he raced down the length of the living room.

Not a comment I typically hear from him. I stopped fixing dinner to watch what was going on so I could see what a whistle was.

Several boys were grasping after a blue ball and Chance was running down next to them.

"There is no whistle in this game." Chance's brother informed him.

'Yes, there is!" Chance insisted.

I watched the boys play for a minute and noticed Chance taking the ball out to the side of the room.

"Does he mean referee? I asked.

"Yes," his brother said as he grabbed for the ball.

"Lets tell him what the real name is." I said.

So we told Chance that the people who have the whistles in sports are called referees.

"Oh." Chance said.

So tonight, I asked Chance what the people with the whistles in sports were called. He thought for a minute and then said,"I forgot."

So I reminded him.

"Oh ya!" He said.

We'll just practice using the word referee for the next while and see if we can't get that word to stick.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

sliver and silver..

The kids and I were in the car waiting for their dad to come out, so we decided to play the game "guess that color." I went first. Chance kept offering the same guess each time it was his turn to choose what color he thought it was. I couldn't figure out what color he meant. It was not one of the basics..yellow, red, blue etc. Chance knows how to pronounce those colors just fine.
"What color do you mean Chance?" I asked.

"He is saying silver." His brother informed me. Only he was pronouncing it sliver instead of silver. Oh the subtle differences of the English language that really make a difference in meaning.

'Chance it is s-i-l-v-e-r." I said drawing the word out so he could hear it.

"Oh. Silver." Chance repeated back to me

We then had a discussion about what a sliver is and how it sounds a lot like the word silver.
So now Chance is ready to head into the holiday season knowing how to correctly pronounce the color sliver. Er, I mean silver.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chance sings lullabyes..

Chance's baby brother was having a hard time going to sleep tonight. Chance's older brother started singing songs to him. Chance began singing too. At first, Chance just sang what he wanted to sing, not really singing along with his brother.

Then, Chance started singing the same songs that his brother was singing. He knew some songs that I had no idea he knew the words to.

Chance's baby brother lay down in his crib and started to settle down. Chance's older brother started dozing off and stopped singing. The baby was not quite all the way settled however, so he started rolling around in his crib. Chance started singing again, and he kept singing until his little brother was fast asleep.

I sat in the dark listening as Chance sang song after song to sooth his baby brother. I think the singing was good for all of us. The baby settled down to sleep, I got to admire how far Chance has come with his singing abilities, plus witness the love Chance has for his brother, and Chance had the satisfaction of knowing that was able to help his brother.

Then Chance himself dozed off.

And they lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chocolate and the lessons it teaches us...

Halloween opened up a whole new world of chocolate for Chance. He is genetically predisposed to crave chocolate from his father's side of the family (and a few chocolate addicts on his mothers side).

However, Halloween was one of those rare occasions when many different kinds of chocolate converged into one place....Chance's trick or treat bag.

Chance began to realize chocolate comes in many different sizes with various ingredients added to strengthen the allure. There are Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Twix Bars, Hershey's milk chocolate bars and chocolate with peanuts added. Chance was a regular connoisseur of chocolate in the past whenever the opportunity presented itself, but Halloween helped him to realize that different chocolate candy bars have different names. This was kind of exciting for him because then he could more effectively barter with his siblings for his favorites. Chance would study the candy bar wrapper and if he was not sure how to pronounce the name, he would ask us how you say it.

Now Chance is realizing that potato chips have different names too. There are Ruffles original, or Ruffles with cheese.

This may not seem like much of a life changing event, but to Chance it enables him to specify what his favorite foods are. Instead of just asking for chips, he can specify that he would like the cheesey chips. Or he can request that Santa bring Kit Kat bars to fill up his stocking instead of having to gamble on just saying chocolate and risk getting a less superior taste for his pallet.

We'll have to review the different kinds of chocolate bars to get the names solid in Chance's vocabulary, but I am certain that his father is up to the task of testing Chance's chocolate knowledge on a regular basis.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Basketball

Chance is playing basketball now and enjoying it very much. His coach is the same guy that coached his baseball team this past summer. He is really a good guy who helps the kids to have fun and does not get overly stressed about the game. He knows Chance and will repeat things if Chance misses anything etc.

Basketball is probably the hardest sport for Chance to hear in so far besides swimming. The ball is always smacking against a hard gym floor creating noise, there are kids running all over the court creating noise, and a gym just echoes and the sound bounces off all of the walls like crazy. Chance does really well and he is a good little hustler and loves to play, he just can not hear you many times if you call out to him while he is on the court.

The kids are all given colored wristbands that correspond to a wristband to a kid on the opposite team. You guard the child who has the same wristband color as you do. Chance is usually good about guarding his man, but during one point in the game, he was letting his man go unguarded. I called out by habit to tell Chance to guard his man, but soon realized that Chance could not hear me. His coach tried telling him to guard too, but unless Chance looks at you, you may not be heard.

I talked to the coach after the game and asked if he wanted my husband or I to sit over by the bench during the games and help him out when he needed to get Chance's attention. He said that it was fine and not a big problem. Chance will have to learn to look over at his coach every so often to see if he is telling him something. When you are in the heat of the game, this will not be easy.

Another option is, we get an FM system consisting of a receiver that attaches to the bottom of Chance's implant, and a microphone that we or the coach could wear. Then Chance would be hearing us if we were right by him. These systems are used to help deaf people in school, church, or any other setting when they need to hear in noisy or crowded environments. The cost is about $4000.00 from what we understand. So Chance will not be using one of these systems this year:)

Chance is a little trooper and just goes on with his life undaunted by the mere fact that he is deaf. We'll have to see what we can work out for basketball in the future. Maybe we can ask deaf adults who play what they do to keep in touch with the coach.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Chance didn't want to hear us sing..

We were driving home in the car yesterday and I asked the kids what song they wanted to sing. They were all tired, and thus easily irritated, so I thought singing might loosen them up a little.
I asked Chance first what he wanted to sing. He informed me that he did not want to sing. So, I asked Chance's sister what she wanted to sing. She did not want to sing either, so I started to sing 99 Bottles of Rootbeer on the Wall.

Chance didn't want me to sing a song that he didn't know. So I asked him again what he wanted to sing. He was sulking, so I asked his sister what she wanted to sing. She chose a song and we started to sing.

It turns out, that Chance was just getting ready to sing at this point and wanted to be the one to choose the song since I had asked him first.

So, to show us his displeasure, he took his implants off and told us that he could not hear us.

Well, for rude.

This of course meant that I could not talk to Chance either since he would not hear me. So I could not tell him to choose a song when we were done and I was driving so I could not do anything to get his attention.

It only took a few minutes before Chance put his implants on by his own accord. He didn't like not being able to hear. This is a good thing.

I did not make a big deal about Chance taking his implants off either because I do not want this to be something that he starts doing when he does not want to hear me:)

Bellybuttons come up again....

I asked Chance to feed our toad today, and as he was getting the crickets ready, he told me that he wanted another belly button toad.
Now, for all I know there really is a bellybutton toad, the kids do love to read and watch shows about animals. I was picturing in my mind why a toad would be called a bellybutton toad.
Was it really little so someone thought about it fitting inside a bellybutton?
Did the look of the critter remind someone of a bellybutton?

"What is a bellybutton toad?" I asked Chance.
Chance looked at me, then he looked at our toad cage. Then it hit me.
"You want another toad like ours?" I asked.
"Yes." Chance replied.
"It's a firebelly toad." I reminded Chance.
"Ya, I want another fire belly toad." Chance said emphasizing fire belly.

Chance is learning so much vocabulary that he needs to be reminded or review what the names for things are sometimes. His mind is just taking so much in, and he has so much to remember. We hardly ever call the toad a fire belly toad. We just say toad.
Chance was close, there was the word belly in the toads name:)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who ARE you?

Chance got his first taste of automated phone calls today. Chance had no idea what to make of it either.

The phone rang and Chance answered it. Then I heard Chance's muffled voice as I was in the laundry room so I could not make out all that was said. Suddenly I heard," Who ARE you?"
Not exactly phone etiquette so I started calling Chance as I walked toward him.

"Chance, who is it?" I asked.

I found Chance standing in the kitchen, a perplexed look on his face. The phone was still at his ear and he asked "Hello? Hello?"

I asked for the phone and Chance handed it to me in exasperation. "They will not answer!"

It turns out it was an automated survey. A computer had asked a question and then paused for an answer.

Actually, it would be kind of nice not to know what those annoying phone calls are about. But, alas, we have to teach Chance that these phone calls are part of life that we all deal with.

When I explained to Chance that sometimes people have computers call the house to leave a message or ask questions, his eyes got huge. I explained that the computer could not talk back, as it was not a real person, Chance's eyes kind of glazed over. I am sure that he'll have more experience with these kinds of calls in the future. None of us get to escape them:)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The worst thing that ever happened to Chance..

Chance got the assignment to write about the worst thing that has ever happened to him. Now, to me as his mom, I think he might have written about things like, " When I went deaf and nobody else knew but me for 2 years." Or perhaps," When I had to get stitches because I cut myself with a kitchen knife." Or maybe," When I got lost at Sea World and could not tell anyone who my mom and dad were." (That event would certainly qualify for one of the worst things that has ever happened to ME)

Chance did not choose those things. He wrote that the worst thing that had ever happened to him was when his kitchen chair broke.

I like to think that due to our amazing parenting skills, and Chance's fabulous friends and relatives and the fact that he is bordering on perfect, the chair breaking is the worst thing that has ever happened to him.

It should be noted that when the chair broke, Chance was not on it. In fact, he found out it was broken when he spotted it backless after school. So, Chance apparently has no stresses to write about other than the fact that one of his kitchen chairs broke. And several weeks ago I might add.

It is nice to know that Chance is in such a good mental state in his life.:)

Monday, October 22, 2007

What is life without skivvies...

Chance and I came across a new word that Chance really has taken a liking to tonight. We were reading along about a boy and his visit to the great grandpa house where his grandpa lived. While there, the little boy and his dog came across a pond and went back to get his dad so that they could go swimming. Well of course all of the great grandpas wanted to join in the fun and since no one had swimming suits on them, they went swimming in their skivvies.

Chance laughed and laughed at this great new word that he has discovered. He has told everyone in the house about it. I have a feeling that all of the kids in school will hear about it tomorrow. I am sure that we will all be using that word more around our house since all of the kids think it is great. I have to admit, it is kind of fun finding ways to use skivvies in your conversations.
If only all words were as fun to learn and use as skivvies life would be so much more fun.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Chance is distracted by little noises....

It is fun to watch as Chance is now distracted by the little noises that happen all around him.

When it starts to rain outside.

When water starts running off the roof at school during therapy.

When there is a sound effect on the radio in the car.

When the beeper on the dryer goes off.

Sound effects from a remote control car 20 feet away.

When his brother topples the block tower several rooms away.

When the microwave or oven buzzer goes off.


Chance perks up and asks what that noise is or goes to explore for himself now when he hears noises he can not account for or can not place what is making the sound.

Yesterday, Chance came into my bedroom and announced that he had pulled the clothes out of the dryer because it was beeping and they were dry.

These are seemingly little sounds that most of us hear and take for granted each day. For Chance each of these sounds that he hears is a little miracle.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Where to look for a lost deaf child...

I lost Chance yesterday morning. He had last been seen in the shower, but his towel lay crumpled on the floor. I headed to the kitchen but did not find him there. I asked his brother if he had seen Chance, and he said that he had been standing in front of the closet getting his clothes. Chance was not there either. The plot thickened. I was about to call out Chance's name, but Chance can not hear right out of the shower since he has not implants on.

We finally found him -- sitting outside, on the bottom front step.

When we inquired what he was doing, Chance replied peacefully that he was just listening to the birds in the morning. His implants were on.

Then he got up and started to come back into the house.

We looked at each other and then told Chance it was OK to sit back down and listen to the birds.

Our deaf son was listening to the birds chirping. We certainly didn't want to interrupt that.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Our pet Buffy....

Today I found a book that Chance had made about himself at school when he was 5. It was really cute. He had filled in what color his hair is, what color is eyes are and then he wrote that he had a pet named Buffy. It was very nice. Except, we have never had a pet named Buffy. Well, there was that period of time when we kept getting tadpoles that passed away just when they were on the brink of transforming into frogs. Unless I have forgotten that one of those poor souls was named Buffy, Buffy has not existed at our home.

I think Chance was telling people about our pet bunny, but they could not understand what he was saying and so Buffy was the best guess anyone had. Just this year in school, Chance was telling his teacher what the name of his dog was, but try as she might, his teacher could not understand what the name was. So, I sent in a note with the name of all of Chance's pets on it so that any future discussions about pets would go smoother.

As a general rule, people understand what Chance says. When you get to pet names though, when it could be anything, it is hard to guess if you don't know. We need to work on Chance's articulation when he says his pets names so that other people will always understand what he is saying. Pets are important to be able to talk about.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Smoke, Spoke, a Stem and Steam

Chance and I had a conversation on the way to school today that went something like this:

"Chance, look, there is smoke rising up over there." I said pointing.
"Ya, spoke makes clouds." Chance informed me.
"Smoke makes clouds?" I verified.
"No, spoke."
"It's sm-oke." I said enunciating the word.
"My friend on the bus said it is spoke!" Chance said.

He obviously felt that I was in the wrong. His friend on the bus is also deaf, so spoke probably sounded right to both of them.

"Listen, " I said and then I spelled out smoke and spoke to Chance highlighting the difference in the words.
"Smoke is the white stuff that rises up into the sky and a spoke is the long things on the wheels of your bike."

"Oh." Chance said a little deflated.
You are right though, smoke makes clouds." 'Do you know what else makes clouds?" Steam makes clouds too. Do you know what steam is?"
"I know what that is!" Chance replied enthusiastically.
"That's the thing on the top of the tomato!"
"Oh, a stem? You are right, tomatoes have stems. Pumpkins have stems too."
This led to a conversation about foods that have stems.
"Steam, I said drawing out the word, is the stuff that comes out of the pan when it is bubbling or hot."
"Oh ya!" Chance said enthusiastically." And there is more steam in the winter!"
"Hot chocolate has steam and if you take it outside on a cold day, it will have even more steam. I will show you when it gets cold outside. We will take our hot chocolate outside and watch the steam."
"Yeah!" Chance said contented.

Amazing. Being just one letter off, completely changes the context of what you are talking about. Kind of makes me glad that I can hear all of the letters most of the time. It also makes me appreciate all the more that Chance is literally learning to hear with his implants. What a kid.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Chance gets a lesson in abbreviations

While just Chance and I were driving in the car the other day, we were discussing sports as we were on our way to basketball practice. Since we have a healthy little rivalry going on between two universities in the area, and Chance has been influenced by the fact that his dad attended one of the colleges, Chance told me:
"I don't like that UU team."
"The U of U?" I asked back.
"The what?" Chance said confused.

This led to a discussion of how sometimes the names of places are shortened or abbreviated. I explained that the U of U actually stood for the University of Utah which was also called the U of U or "The U". Then I told him that the team he rooted for was known as BYU, Brigham Young University or "The Y".
I heard an audible gasp from the backseat. Chance was taking this information all in.

I can see how this could seem amazing to someone just realizing such things. After all, now many names does one place need?

Abbreviations are something that Chance will come in contact with many many times through out his life. Chance is still learning that many times, there are different names that things can be called by. I think that he was working so hard for a long time to attach a name to all of the basic things around him, that that was enough to concentrate on.

Now, Chance's world is opening up to include the many names that one item can have. There are shirts as a general thing, but there are many breakoffs i.e. turtlenecks, short-sleeve shirts, sweaters, vests, flannel shirts, dress shirts, t-shirts etc.

It is fun to see how amazed Chance is as the lights in his brain go on to new concepts and words. What a blessing he is to us.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chance wants to play football

Chance announced at dinner tonight that he wants to play football. Football? I am all for Chance playing sports and I fully expect that he'll have injuries along the way, but football seems to be a sport with an injury waiting to happen simply by its nature.

I remember watching a newscast of sports wrap-ups for the week with my husband some time ago. At the end, they listed all of the football players who had been injured so far.

"I didn't think that football season has started yet." I remarked.

"It hasn't. My husband replied. These are the players who have been hurt during spring training.

This is not the kind of stress a mother wants to deal with.

I would never let my bias against bone crushing tackles and life shattering head wounds stop Chance from playing football if he really wanted to. I just think that now might be a bit young. Besides, what happens to an implant when ones helmet is smashed up against ones head as 3 players tackle you to the ground? Any way my imagination portrays the possibilities seem painful and unpleasant.

Chance might be slightly embarrassed too should his mother run onto the field yelling, "Hey you guys stop that! You are smushing his implants into his head!"

Chance's brother is actually going to play flag football this fall so I am sure that Chance's desire to play will only increase.

Oh well. Maybe we'll let him play flag football next year if he promises not to develop a love for the sport that leads to 300 pound men smashing his implant against his helmet when he is older.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What kids at school think of Chance's implants

Chance's dad went to school to have lunch with Chance. Chance was eating lunch with one of the boys who was in his class last year. The little boy turned to Chance's dad and said," Hes doing good with those things on his ears. I hardly have to tap him at all anymore!"

And there you have it. We hardly have to tap him anymore either so now we know that we are not the only ones.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

ChiChi came to our house..

We were eating dinner the other night when the doorbell rang. We had family over eating with us so Chance ran to get the door. He came back with a paper and handed it to me.

"Who was at the door?" I asked.

"ChiChi's mom." Chance responded sitting down to eat.

Chance's dad leaned over and whispered to me"Who is ChiChi?"

I replied that I did not know and was wondering that very thing myself.

"Who was at the door?" I asked Chance.

"ChiChi's mom." He calmly replied.

"You have someone in your neighborhood named ChiChi?" One of Chance's cousins asked.
Actually, we don't have anyone in our neighborhood named ChiChi. And unfortunately the paper was a very generic reminder that the whole neighborhood got about a clothing drive on Saturday so it yielded no clues as to who this ChiChi person's mom might be.

Since we had guests, and we did not want to embarrass Chance in front of his cousins, we did not pursue any further inquiry into who ChiChi is. I guess it will remain a mystery forever.
I do wonder though, whose name out there in our neighborhood sounds like ChiChi to Chance.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Learning the 3 R's...reading, reading, reading!

Chance got the best reading score out of all of the first graders in his school. This is fabulous news! Deaf children have been known to struggle in the past with reading often stagnating at a 4th grade level. This is changing, but deaf children have traditionally struggled in reading which makes sense since spoken language and reading are related.

We are just beginning our school career with Chance as he is still young, but what a great start!

When I heard that he had done so well, I had flashbacks to this time last year when reading with Chance was a bit of a struggle. I remember specifically coming across the word 'taxi' and Chance flopping his head over on my shoulder in deep despair because he did not know what that word was. Even after sounding it out correctly, he just had no idea what a taxi was. We don't have many taxi's around here so Chance lacked exposure.

I got books I thought would interest Chance and set them in a basket on the desk.. Each night he would choose one to read to me.

He also went through a reading recovery program at school and brought home a book to read each night from that program, as well as a book to read each night from his mainstream class.

It is nice when you see the results of your labors. And I am very grateful to Chance and his drive to excel.
Only 10 more years to keep this up until Chance graduates from high school :)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chance starts school

Chance's teacher asked if I would come and tell the class a little about cochlear implants the first week of school.

So I found myself seated in front of two classes of first graders telling them about cochlear implants. Some of these kids were in Chance's class last year so they already knew Chance.

I decided to tell the kids about what a cochlear implant is and show them pictures of Chance's surgery, his face when he first heard sound through the implant and then tell them how the implant works.

The pictures were a big hit. The kids oohed and ahhed as we talked about the journey of getting an implant and why kids get them. Chance stood proudly at my side and helped to hand the pictures around.

One cute little girl sitting right up front, was really enthralled and had lots of questions and comments.
"Kids with those are deaf so you use talk using sign language with them." She stated proudly.
"Actually, the kids with implants at your school talk and can hear." I said.

I told the kids that even though not everyone's implants looked exactly the same, they all helped the kids to hear. The kids wearing implants in the room proudly showed off their implants.

"I learned to sign from a video so I can help the kids with implants if they can't hear." The little girl in the front volunteered.

I told her that that was very nice of her to want to help, and that it was cool that she had learned some sign language. I then told her that kids with implants could hear, so she could talk to them just like she talks to other kids in the class.

I showed the kids how the implant was attached to Chance's head by a magnet. They thought that was awesome. Then I asked the kids what they thought they should do if the implant ever fell off at recess.

"Don't step on it!" One little boy blurted out. Smart kid.
"Give it back to Chance." The little girl in the front said very seriously. "And if Chance can not hear without his implant on, I can talk to him with sign language." She added.

We talked about how without the implants, the deaf kids could not hear, and just like you don't take someone's glasses off, you should never take someone's implant off.

Then one of the kids asked if you slept with implants on. I told him that you usually take them off at night.
I told them that implants can't get wet either. Chance's implants actually can take some water, but some of the kids at school have implants that can not. I did not want to confuse the matter, so I figured to be safe, I should just say that implants are not supposed to get wet.

"What happens if Chance is under the big mushroom when you swim?" One little boy asked earnestly.

The big mushroom? Then I remembered that several of the local swimming pools have a big mushroom shaped waterfall in the kiddie section that rains water down as kids dodge in and out of the water.

"Then you would have to go over and tap Chance because he would not hear you talking." I answered.
"Wow." The little boy mumbled.

"Then I could talk sing language to him." The little girl up front beamed.

"And then, we use sign language with Chance." I responded.

All in all, I think it went well. The kids seemed to be enthralled and the teachers both said that they learned a lot about implants that they didn't know.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Chance the defender

Chance started playing soccer this year. We have not been a big soccer family so far, so we wondered how Chance would adapt to the game. He was really excited to play, but he had not had much exposure. In baseball, you can observe the players around you and watch the other team play when you are in the infield.

In soccer if you stop to observe, you get pinged in the head with a ball. There is also non stop action and you have to be able to hear a coach's directions as both you and he are running up the field.

Chance has taken to soccer very well. He is fast and does very well being a defender by the goal. He is good at blocking shots before they even reach the goalie.

Today as he played, I noticed that at one point he was just standing on the field glancing in my direction. I had glanced away from the field for one moment, and when I turned back, there Chance stood.

"Oh no! He's been wounded and I don't know which body part I am going to need to focus on when he comes over." I thought. You turn away for one second...

It turns out Chance wasn't looking at me at all. He was focused on the Apache helicopters that were flying by. I was surprised actually that Chance had not noticed the helicopters earlier in the game. They kept flying by. Helicopters are one of the few sounds that Chance can hear with "a natural" ears.

There was no defending going on at this point as Chance was mesmerized. He ran over to point the helicopters out to me and after acknowledging that they were indeed cool, I sent him back out to defend his goal.

I have been pleasantly surprised to see how much Chance hears out on the field. He hears his coach calling out calls, telling him to go here or there and does not miss much at all. I am sure that he does not hear absolutely everything, but he is on the ball and when his coach calls out something to the whole team like."Kick the ball away from the goal." Chance moves in to do just that.

So, soccer is going well. It turns out Chance is quite good at this game.

I am glad that we signed him up to play.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Chance heard the leaves in the trees!

On the day that we found out that Chance was deaf - as I was driving home from the hospital in a sort of daze - one thought hit me as I looked out the window, where the wind was blowing the leaves in some big trees and I was watching them sway back and forth.

"My son will never be able to hear the leaves blow in the wind," I thought to myself. I love that sound and it caused me to get teary eyed as I realized that Chance would never share that sound with me. Then I comforted myself with the thought that Chance would not know what he was missing as he would not remember having ever heard leaves blowing in the wind.

Well, yesterday as we left Chance's soccer practice, the wind was blowing the trees as we walked back to the car. And Chance said," I hear the wind blowing the trees!"

Some moments are hard to describe as they touch you so much. This was one such moment for me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chance "hears" how his name should be spelled and reacts.

Chance was signing his name on a paper the other day and when he was done, I was a bit surprised. Chance knows how to spell his name of course, but his paper reflected something other than the spelling I was used to.

Across the paper, Chance had written, "Chans." At first, I was confused. Had Chance mistakingly put an 's' in his name? That seemed strange since this had never happened before.

"Chance, why did you put an 's' in your name?" I asked.

Chance matter-of-factly sounded out his name for me and informed me that it made an "s" sound at the end, so there should be an s. And since he had put an s at the end, there did not need to be an e either.

This is good since Chance could not hear s's just a year ago so it is apparent, his hearing has improved in this area. It is interesting that he has transferred this new hearing ability to his name. I don't know if this is a phase, or if Chance has decided permanently that his name should have an 's' in it since that is the way it sounds.

School is about to start so we'll have to see how he decides to spell his name on his papers :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Chance and the family reunion

We attended a family Reunion yesterday. Chance met many relatives that he does not remember meeting before. He made some new friends too.

So much work goes into planning an event like this and Chance's aunts had done a good job. However, there were a few glitches in the beginning just to shake things up. About a half an hour into the event, a storm moved in and blew down all of the pictures and ripped the paper off the tables where everyone was planning to picnic. It rained pretty heavy for a bit, but just as it looked like an outside reunion was doomed, the rain stopped and the skies cleared.

Then, during the magic show, while all the kids sat mesmerized on the grass, the sprinklers suddenly went on, adding to the puddles already created by the rain. The pavilion where we gathered now had puddles of water all along the perimeters. Not too much of a bother, except a few of the kids running around slipped and fell when they encountered the water. Chance was one of these kids. He went dashing through the pavilion and plopped right onto his hiney. Both implants promptly fell right smack into a puddle. There was a collective gasp as all of the relatives in the vicinity contemplated what this could mean. Several hands reached out to help Chance up and someone plucked the implants out of the water holding them out while they eyed them worriedly. Chance's dad and I were over by a tree lining up for a picture but I had seen the event and came over to make sure that Chance was ok. After ascertaining that Chance was alright, the next thing everyone wanted to know was if the implants were ruined. Someone was saying, "Get something to wipe the water off!"

Once again, we are SO GRATEFUL that his implants are not that delicate around water! They survived the submersion just fine. Chance was embarrassed at having fallen in front of everyone, but other than that, no damage was done.

So, several relatives are now breathing easier with us knowing that the implants survived. And Chance was able to talk to and get to know more of his relatives because of his implants. Many of Chance's relatives were impressed with how well Chance could hear and commented on how great it was to see that he was doing so well. It was a good day.

Friday, August 03, 2007

That makes a cool noise!

Today at lunch, Chance stuck his food in the mircowave and stood back to wait for it to heat up. As he and his sister watched the food go in circles, Chance suddenly jumped up to lean in closer to the microwave.

"That makes a cool sound!" Chance said his face registering complete surprise.

Chance's sister and I leaned in closer to the microwave.

"Do you hear that?" Chance bubbled like he was sharing a newly discovered bit of information.

"Chance, you haven't heard the mircowave make noise before?" I asked.

"No! It makes noise now!" Chance beamed.

I will now pay more attention to the fact that the microwave makes noise when it is cooking something. Chance shows us all kinds of things that we don't really think about until he points them out to us.
Hooray for microwaves making noise when they cook! What a great sound!

Chance hears his name in song...

Yesterday Chance was playing a game of checkers with his brother when he excitedly said,"hey, they said my name!"

There was a CD playing in the background while the boys played their game.

'Listen!" Chance said.

"Yes, they did say chance.' his brother responded while he continued to play.

"They are saying my name again!" Chance laughed.

Then Chance's brother delivered the news..'Chance, the song is not talking about you. They are just saying chance."

Chance was undaunted. He was delighted that he heard his name while listening to the music. With a name like Chance, he has a good chance of hearing his name in songs again:)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Chance makes friends in all sorts of places..

This summer it has been very satisfying to watch Chance interacting with other kids, many that he has never met before, as he plays sports, plays at parks or rides around the neighborhood.

There have been several instances when Chance has made a friend while playing in the sandbox or climbing up the jungle gym. Chance is confident enough to reach out and meet other kids and play with them wherever he finds himself this summer.

I love to approach him as he is playing at a park etc. and have him exclaim excitedly, "This is my new friend!" He still doesn't always get their names, but he bonds with them all the same:)

Sometimes, he recognizes a child from baseball etc. and readily approaches them to play when he sees them again at the park. It shows that Chance is confident in his ability to communicate and be understood by other kids. He doesn't have to focus so much on understanding and being understood, and can instead focus on just being a kid that wants to play with other kids.
Sometimes Chance will hang back at first to access the situation, but more and more he just jumps right in.

We went to a park after Chance got his mapping done, and a group of women with several children were playing tag. Chance and his brother joined right in to play.

I think Chance is very social and is now able to express that more since he can hear better and not have to focus so hard on just hearing what people are saying. Sometimes Chance has to use his power of observation to totally grasp what the situation is when people are running all over talking while they play tag etc. but Chance is able to catch what is going on more and more and join in on the fun. Chance can not hear perfectly with the implants, but he is hearing phenominally well and his opportunities to interact with those around him have increased and improved more than we had ever hoped for at the beginning of our journey.

I can see that it is very satisfying for Chance to feel comfortable enough to just be a kid that is joining in on the activities going on around him instead of missing out on most of the things that are being said.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

So many words, so little time....

Wow. I have begun to see some areas that we need to work on some more with Chance. Those years without hearing all that he needed to has left him with gaps to fill in his vocabulary.

We have been working on things such as: fridge and refrigerator mean the same thing. And T.V. and television are one and the same. These are things that non-deaf 7 year olds would know.

Chance is eager to learn and it is funny to see the amazement on his face when he realizes that certain words mean the same thing. For instance, large and big. Or shy and bashful.

Today we played a game in the car as we drove. We would all take turns calling out things that we saw, and then everyone else in the car would call out when they saw them too. When we saw 'cranes' we talked about them, to help solidify the word in his vocabulary.

We continually listen to Chance as he says things and try to give him the correct way things are said. For instance when his brother was hiding around the corner Chance said," He was hiding on the corner!" So we rephrased it for him: "He was hiding around the corner?" Chance nodded.

Chance amazes us with how far he has come since we found out that he was deaf. It will take effort for all of us to catch Chance up, but it is worth it! Chance picks up on things quite beautifully now that he has the implants. It is not perfect, but his language and communication skills are continually growing. I hear him talking with his friends and laying out the details of being bad guys or animal rescue workers. I find it fascinating to hear my deaf son explain with detail and vigor where the hideout is, or lay out what must be done to save an injured stuffed raccoon that lays with his wounds wrapped in masking tape on my stairs. He plays imaginative games for hours with other kids in the neighborhood. Just as a 7 year old boy should.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chance hears the baby crying.

It was one of those nights where you think the baby is sound asleep and so you begin to settle in for a little winding down.

Chance and I were sitting in the rocking chair when I thought I heard the baby whimper. I perked up my ears because it was a kind of muffled sound.

Chance who was laying across my lap asked,"Is that the baby?"

I was rather surprised that Chance had heard it too, since I wasn't posititive I had heard it.

Sure enough, a few seconds later, the baby cried out letting us know that he was not asleep and needed some attention.

Chance is hearing more and more everyday. Not only is he hearing more, but he is hearing better. He is discerning more sounds. It is exciting to go through this journey with Chance and witness the unfolding of Chance's ability to hear and communicate each day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Raindrops keep falling on my head....

Ahhhh, we really like the implants that are water resistant:) We were at an amusement park yesterday having the time of our lives, when it started to rain. Initially we thought we could just dash into the pioneer village at the park and wait out the storm. After all, it had rained the day before for a few minutes and the storm had just blown over after a bit. After we had checked out all of the pioneer artifacts, it looked like the storm had run its course so we ventured out for more rides.

Then the downpour resumed afresh. No kid wants to leave an amusement park just because of a little rain! If Chance still had hearing aids, we would have either had to leave the park, or taken the aids off and Chance would not have been able to hear anything. Chance is so used to being able to hear now, that he does not appreciate it when he can not hear.

Lucky for us, Chance's implants were not afraid of the water. The implants are not fully waterproof, you wouldn't want to wear them swimming, for instance. But the rain, they could take. We did wind up putting Chance's baseball cap on, but all the kids put their hats on to fend off at least some of the rain.

Yes, we like the water resistant implants. They served us well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fireworks

A few days ago, we sat on the sidewalk at some friends house watching fireworks go off. Chance was sitting on the grass next to me, and his dad and his pyrotechnic friend were rigging fireworks to create a show for all of us.

I was talking to someone and turned to check on Chance just as one of those squealing fireworks went off. Chance's eyes got big and he covered his ears yelling,"That is so loud!"

Then it occurred to me that this was the first July that Chance has had both of his implants. He was realizing for the first time that fireworks make lots of noise.

Chance watched in amazement as the sparks flew up in the air and every once in a while, he would uncover his ears only to cover them back up again because the squealing was not over yet.

Chance did not cover his ears when any of the other fireworks went off, just the squealers.
I realized that at the 4th of July parade we attended, that Chance would smile and cover his ears when the simulated gun shots would go off too. "That is so loud!" He would say. None of the other noises phased him at the parade either. He just wanted to figure out where the big bang was coming from when the guns went off.

Chance and his siblings made a flag out of paper and markers the day before the 4th of July parade. They asked me how many lines there were and how many stars they should add. then they wrote,"God Bless America" across the bottom. I didn't think that much about it, until we got to the parade and Chance and his siblings pulled the flag out on a stick to take to the parade with us.

In our area parade, thousands of people line the streets to see floats, balloons, police on motorcycles and soldiers going by. Veterans march from World War II and Vietnam along with those currently in the National Guard. One truck pulled the families of soldiers currently serving in Iraq. Each time any soldiers would march by, the kids would wave their flag. Out of all the people lining the street, several servicemen noticed the flag the kids were waving. Some soldiers saluted and one even ran over to shake the kids hands saying that he had seen their flag and had to come over and meet them. It was quite touching to see how the flag affected the veterans and current soldiers alike. Chance loved it.

So Chance celebrated his first July with bilateral implants and realized that as far as holidays go, this is definitely one of the loudest!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chance can now tell our secrets..

When I was 18, I taught the 3 and 4 year olds at church. They would tell me about their new bed, their grandma's house, their haircut and how their brother had hit them while they were playing together. They would also give a report on what had happened in their lives that Sunday morning. I heard things like,"Ya, my dad was mad at my mom because she was late." Or "My brother got grounded for saying a swear word while we were eating breakfast." Oh the innocence of children and their ability to tell it like it is:)

Well, now Chance can report things that we do to other people. That certainly was not a problem before. This week Chance and I were sitting with his auditory-verbal therapist when she started asking him questions about various things around that Chance would see.

'What do we do at a stoplight?" She asked Chance.

It took Chance a minute to register what a stoplight was, but then he was on a role.

"We go when the light is green." Chance answered.

"Good. What other colors do stoplights have?"

"Red. That means we stop." Chance responded.

"Good. Are their any other colors on a stoplight?" The therapist asked.

"Yellow." Chance said. "That means......" At this point Chance slowly turned and looked at me. His facial expressions showed an internal struggle was at hand. Chance then turned to the therapist and said,

"Yellow means stop, but my mom just kept going." Chance said speaking slowly for emphasis.

The room was silent except for the therapist who was trying not to laugh too hard. She let Chance know that she had done that before too. (I would just like to say that the light turned yellow AFTER I had started into the intersection.)

Now Chance can tell stories about his parents just like any other child does. And apparently, he is paying attention to details :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Music to our ears...

Chance has begun to use phrases like, "We got a ton!" Evidence that he is picking up on phrases that are said around him and adding them into his own vocabulary. He knew when to use the phrase "We got a ton", too. It made total sense in the context he used it in.

It is funny when you have a deaf child - even those little come backs that kids say that usually annoy you as a parent are music to your ears. Instead of being upset, I find myself smiling. One such incident happened when we stopped to get the mail. The kids were all clamoring around telling me that it was their turn to open the mail box. (oh what little pleasures children find in life!)

Chance was adamant that it was HIS turn to open the mailbox. And actually it was. But I told him that if he opened the mailbox, his brother would get to open the door to the house. Chance started to plead his case that his brother had been able to do BOTH yesterday. I told Chance that he had to choose. Chance did not like this and started to sulk. I used one of those motherly phrases,"Your going to be fine." Chance shot back, "No, I'm not!" Obviously Chance got the gist of my meaning and he did not agree.

We've come a long way from the early days when Chance could not express how he felt about something. If there was a disagreement with his brother, Chance could not really tell his side.

Once when we had just found out about Chance being deaf, he threw a fit when we called him in from playing outside. It was dark and time to come in. Chance was highly agitated and would not come away from the door. For all we knew, Chance was upset that he had to come in. Finally, Chance slammed open the door leading out to the garage which hit the pantry door making a hole (in our new house:) This was not Chance-like behavior, so his dad and I both sat down with Chance to try to figure out why he was so upset. After some effort Chance managed to convey to us that he had left his toy out on the grass in the front yard and it was raining. As soon as we recovered his toy, he was fine.

Now we can just take advantage of the fact that Chance can tell us what his needs are and how he is feeling. And if Chance has difficulty expressing what he wants to say, he has the skills to rephrase it or work with us or his friends to get the message across that he wants. It is a wonderful place to be for all of us.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Chance Speaks

video
We shot this video a few nights ago - thought we would let Chance tell you a bit about himself - in his own words.

Chance says a prayer..

Chance was picked to say the prayer in the children's meeting at church today. A child from each class is chosen every few months to read a scripture, say a prayer, and give a talk. Chance was asked to say the prayer. We have known since last week so Chance knew that it was coming.

We asked Chance this morning if he was ready and he said yes. He was not phased at all. We were wondering how Chance would react to his voice coming through a microphone. It used to be that when Chance heard his voice through a microphone, it would throw him off a bit. Then, he would get nervous and his voice would go really high. It was hard to understand him at these moments.

Today, though, was his time to shine. He got up, and without any help, gave a beautiful prayer from his heart. He was very thoughtful, and very understandable. He was not phased by the sound of his voice coming through the microphone and his voice stayed steady and even. When he was done, Chance's face was radiant and he threw his arms around me and gave me a big kiss. What more could a mom ask for?

I was sitting up front, as I lead the children in singing, so I could see the reaction of all of the teachers and children when Chance had finished. Most were smiling and many had a look of pleasant surprise. They did not know that Chance was so capable. He proved to many that even though he was deaf, he could get up and participate like any other child in the room. Our church congregation has been very supportive of Chance, but not everyone interacts with him often enough to witness the incredible progress that he makes on a seemingly daily basis. Everyone that was in that room today knows now!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Death, taxes and bellybutts....

I have realized the last few days that Chance has been thinking that everyone has a bellybutt.
I am sure that this misconception started when he had his hearing aids and he probably didn't even hear the"on" sound at the end of bellybutton. And since he never had any reason to question that what he had heard was wrong, Chance has apparently been stuck with the notion that everyone has a bellybutt.

I realized when we were at the store looking for clothes that Chance might have a snag in his perception of how you say bellybutton. Chance's little sister was trying on shirts and Chance said' "I see your bellybutt!" He then laughed and laughed because as we all know, bellybuttons are one of the bodies most interesting parts.

"You see her bellybutton?" I asked Chance.

"Yes, I see her bellybutt."

I explained to Chance that it was bellybuttON.

Chance repeated bellybutton back to me and then I heard him say it a few times to himself.

Apparently, we don' talk about bellybuttons enough at our house so we'll have to work that word into our conversations so Chance gets used to it.

Tonight, he told his brother that he could see his bellybutt. We told Chance it was a bellybutton and he quickly said it the right way.

Like I said, we're going to have to work the word bellybutton into our conversations so that Chance gets used to hearing it said right. This could actually be fun. Bellybutton is a fun word. If you need to step up the frequency of using the name of a body part, bellybutton is probably the most amusing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The perks of being deaf...

Chance definitely has an advantage that the rest of us don't have...he can turn his hearing off.

Chance and his brother were arguing about who's idea it was to play hotel. They each kept saying "It was my idea!" and the other one would counter louder," No! It was my idea!"

Chance put an end to the arguing when he walked down the hall and took off his implants. "I know that you took your implants off and now you can't hear me!! " his brother yelled. "Well, I can't hear you either!" And then he covered his ears.

I am thinking that Chance won this argument. As soon as those implants came off, he could not hear a thing his brother said. So, score one for Chance.

We see each day as we head off to swim class the profound miracle that the implants provide for Chance. Chance takes his implants off as we walk out the door to swim class since we just drive to the swimming pool, swim for half and hour and then come home. We could take the implants in the car, but then I would have to worry about getting them off before Chance headed off to the water.

It is amazing to be reminded of just what a miracle the implants are. When Chance runs up to me and hugs me after swim class, he can not hear a word I might say. And calling out to Chance to come, or to look, or to pick up his towel is impossible. The funny thing is, I find myself calling out anyway. Then it hits me,"Oh yeah! Chance can not hear a word I say!"

Even signing to Chance is not a perfect answer at the pool because has to be looking at me to catch what I am saying. And Chance is not looking for me, when he swims, to see if I am talking to him. And if Chance heads off towards the concession stand, he doesn't know that I am trying to get his attention unless he happens to look over to where I am.

I wonder what swimming is like for Chance actually. The rest of us hear kids laughing, moms scolding, the diving board smacking, people splashing as they jump into the water or splash water at each other...... Chance hears none of these things. It must be interesting to see all of these things going on around you, but have no sound to accompany the action. We don't know exactly what Chance can hear with out his implants. He has some (very) limited residual hearing but we have been told that it helps him to hear things like the garbage truck or a lawn mower.

Today Chance had to go to the bathroom at the end of class. I was in the shallow end with the mom-and-tot class which happens to be closest to the bathrooms. There were only 3 minutes of class left, so by the time Chance got back to his class, it would be over. As Chance was sitting in the water with me, the lifeguards blew the whistle signaling that swimming lessons were over and it was time to get out of the pool. I pointed to my ear and said to Chance,"Did you hear that? It is time to go."

Chance started getting out of the water with me.

"What do we hear when it is over?" Chance asked his noise scrunched and his hand over his eyes to block the sun.

"The lifeguards blow a whistle." I said pointing to the lifeguards and pretending to blow a whistle.

"Oh." Chance responded.

So, Chance does not actually hear the whistle, but he watches the cues around him to know when lessons are over.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chance heard me through the door, a fan, and a distance..

As a mom, whenever you get on the phone or in the shower, suddenly one of your kids needs to ask you something right now.

Thus it was that I found myself just getting out of the shower yesterday when Chance knocked on the door. He wanted to know if he could see if Josh could play. I told Chance we needed to have lunch first.

Then Chance asked me if he could make lunch. I told him to wait a minute until I got out.

Chance cheerfully said ok and then I heard him bound off.

The fan was on in the bathroom, I was behind a cabinet and the bathroom door was closed. I realized that Chance may not have heard a thing I had said.

For all I knew, when I got out of the shower, Josh would be over at the house playing and the two boys would be attempting to make lunch by themselves.

When I got out though, Chance cheerfully ran up to me and said,"Can I eat now and play with Josh when I am done?"

He had heard me through the door, a cabinet and with the fan on! Granted, Chance probably had his ear right up to the door, but he still managed to hear through the noise of the fan, around a cabinet and through the closed door!

This is excellent!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The second implant makes a BIG difference..

We see a big difference when Chance has only one implant on. Chance is adamant about wearing both implants but every once in a while we get a taste of having just one implant. One day before school, one of the implants would not turn on. The bus was waiting for Chance to come out and I was desperate so I told Chance just to go to school with out one of the implants. Chance refused. It turns out the battery pack was not pushed all of the way in.

Occasionally, when one of the implants runs out of battery life, Chance if involved with something, will wait until he is done to change the batteries. At these moments we really see the value of having two implants.

The other night at Chance's baseball game, I was calling to him as he stood at the fence. He did not respond, so I stepped closer to him and called out. Still, Chance did not respond. I walked up to where Chance was and called. I could not figure out why Chance was not responding like usual. There was noise what with a baseball game going on and the kids next to Chance talking, but usually Chance would respond at his baseball games. Finally, he turned. It turns out the implant closest to me, was out of battery and Chance was involved with his baseball game and had not come to change the batteries.

In fact, if Chance does not seem to be responding as well as usual, and the environment is not noisy, 99% of the time it is because one of the implants is not turned on. The difference in what Chance is able to hear is very apparent.

With both implants on, Chance can over hear my phone conversations and respond. He can over hear people having a conversation and ask questions about what is being said. Chance can also hear from a further distance and hear more clearly.

We really debated and agonized over whether we should get a second implant, but we have no regrets. On the contrary, we are thrilled with the results!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The cash cow.

Chance attended a rodeo the other night. He loves to see the cowboys at work. As Chance told me,"I love cowboys."This year, Chance and his brother signed up to chase the cash cow. This entailed trying to get money that was attached to a cow. Twelve kids had the opportunity to get any of the $100.00 attached to the cow. The cow was fast. But so is Chance. Chance got close to the cow several times but he would stop just short of touching the cow. The cow would stop too, but then he was off again before Chance got any cash.

Chance's brother got $12.00 and gave $5.00 to Chance since Chance didn't get any money of his own. Chance actually told me that he did get some money, but one of the other kids took it away from him. Chance and his brother were celebrities among their neighborhood friends, many of whom were at the rodeo with their families.

Chance was without implants out in the arena. There was no need really to have Chance's implants fall off to get trampled by a cow or 11 other kids in the excitement of the moment.

So Chance could really focus on the task at hand without the distraction of the roar of the crowd. And now he has $5.00.

Chance loved participating in the race with the cow. He tells the story with much gusto using lots and lots of vocabulary words:)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Things that go BUMP in the night...

Chance came into my room last night after I had put him down to bed and told me that he wanted me to come out. I told him to go lay down and I would be out in a minute. Chance then hung his head and tried not to cry. I wrapped my arms around him and asked him what was wrong. Chance then started to shake with sobs which is unusual for him.

"What is wrong Chance?" I asked.
"I heard a noise." Chance choked out.
"You heard a noise?"
Chance nodded.
"I heard a noise and it scared me." Chance said as he took my hand so that I would walk out with him.

Normally, this would be reason for a mother to feel protective and nurturing. I was trying not to smile and found this to be great news. MY DEAF CHILD HEARD A BUMP IN THE NIGHT AND NOW HE IS AFRAID. Who ever thought that would be possible?

I am not completely heartless. I hid my smile that had crept onto my face when I realized that Chance had heard something unknown to be wary of and held Chance's hand as I led him back to his bed. Then I sat with him until he drifted off to sleep. I also took his implants off which ensured that he would not be hearing any more bumps in the night:)

That is one advantage of having a deaf child. If strange noises are keeping them up, you just take off their implants and voila! No more noises to disturb their sleep.

I don't know what the noise was that Chance heard. He was sleeping next to his brother who did not hear anything. So, maybe it was one of those noises a house makes when things are settled down and you can now hear the buzz of the dryer, the clink of a dish in the dishwasher, or the wind blowing outside the window. All of those noises that the rest of us have learned to tune out, but Chance is just being tuned into.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Chance's Grandpa chimes in

Chance's Grandpa (dad's side), who lives about a 4 hour's drive away, recently send us the following to share:

A few weeks ago we (Grandpa and Grandma) visited Chance's parents on a trip that took us past their home. Chance's older brother was excited and wanted to show us his latest collection of crickets, bugs, spiders, and snakes in containers in the kitchen.

After the "show" I (Grandpa) was sitting in the living room, some thirty feet away, and watched in amazement at Chance's reaction to the crickets chirping in the kitchen. He was involved in a game with a sibling on the living room floor when he heard the crickets chirping. Looking the other way, no less, (like he could of read a crickets "lips" or "joints" anyway), when he heard the crickets chirp, he said very properly, "CRICKETS". I was amazed at how much progress he had made since our last visit, and particularly amazed at how clear and sharp he communicated with us during this visit! Way to go, Chance! And Parents!

Chance is getting the s's

I have noticed a big difference lately in Chance's articulation of the s sound. This is so exciting because for the longest time, I don't think that Chance ever heard the s sound in words. He could sometimes make it out if the s was in the middle of the word, but that was still hit and miss.

Enter the implants. Now Chance can hear that s sound and he is using it more and more. I am struck with gratitude each time Chance says ," It is?". Before the implants, Chance never used that phrase. What's more, even if you tried to point out the s sound in is, Chance would miss it and become frustrated because he could not figure out what we expected him to say.

I remember reading a story with Chance before he had implants. The story was about a mouse, and Chance kept calling it a mou. I would draw out the word for him and emphasize that there was an s sound at the end. Chance just kept saying mou. Finally he just looked at me and said "I said that!" But he clearly could not hear that s sound at the end.

The s sound is one of the first things we noticed when Chance got implants. Now Chance is refining the use of the sound. When first implanted, Chance would really make an effort to make the s sounds in words. We would point them out if he didn't get them and he would really work on saying them correctly. He had a great drive to hear and say things right. I am noticing that he is working on the z sound too. He tries to make sure that he pronunciates that sound in words.

We are loving the implants at our house. We think we'll keep them!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Clothes make noise, don't you know...

Chance came running up to me yesterday and said, " Mom! Listen to this!"

Chance then proceeded to rub his hands all over his stomach, chest, and even his hair. "It makes noise when I do this!" He exclaimed marveling at his discovery. I smiled and replied, "Yes it does make noise when you do that."

"Did you know that?" Chance wanted to know.

"Yes." I replied.

Chance grinned as he realized that I now knew too that his clothes make noises when you rub them.

Chance then zipped off to play rubbing his clothes and hair enjoying the noises that they made.

Chance has taught me to have gratitude for simple things.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

An interesting little thing about implants.

Cochlear implants have an interesting little quirk. That is, being electronic devices, they are affected by static electricity. Static electricity can erase the programming that is stored in the device. In rare cases, it can cause device failure(both external and internal).

Pass any children's park or playground these days and you find plastic slides, platforms and play areas. If you have ever ridden down one of those plastic slides, you know how much static that can cause.

Last night, we were at baseball games(our usual June night activities) watching the kids play ball. Chance's game was over, so I took him and some of his siblings over to the play area to play. As my baby got done going down the slide, he rubbed his head. I laughed thinking it was the wind. Then, he rubbed his head again the next time he went down the slide and I felt the hair on my arm go up each time I got close to the slide. You could feel the static electricity. This caused a bell to go off in my head as I remembered the strange relationship that plastic and implants can have with each other.

Chance was merrily swinging from monkey bars and dashing down slides. I called him over and told him that there was static electricity at the playground and that he needed to be careful because this could ruin his implant program. Chance looked at me kind of funny. I went on to tell him that you could not see static electricity, but that it was around us and we could feel it.(Poor kid. The concepts he has to deal with on a playground!) As we talked, a light went on for Chance. He told me that his dad had told him about that. He then showed me how he was supposed to touch one of the metal bars holding the slide after he went down the slide. This is not a park that we frequent, but Chance seemed to really internalize the fact that after he went down a plastic slide, he needed to touch something metal. This discharges the static built up in him through his finger, rather than through the implant.

Since the concept of static electricity is a little hard to grasp at Chance's age, I was glad that it was so high that day just so I could prove to Chance that it was indeed around us. I had him look at my arm with all of the hair all neatly in place. Then I slid my arm closer and closer to the slide and the hairs all stood at attention. Chance's eyes got big, and then he tried it with his own arm. It was a good visual aid:)

Research shows that the brand of implant that we chose, is less prone to serious complications(such as internal device failure), from static electricity, but it is still an issue to take seriously. Static electricity can still cause issues with implants. There is a coating that the slide can be coated with by the manufacturer, but the manufacturers do not want to make the extra effort. It is simply a convenience for most kids not to have static electricity when they go down a slide. There is also a coating that you can spray on slides yourself we have heard, but it only works for that one visit to the park. Although, it might be interesting to see the look on other parents faces were we to show up at a park and start spraying something all over the slide. We would probably have the police called on us. We have learned so many fascinating things about life through having a deaf child! Who knew there was this much to know about going down a playground slide?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mine and Chance's little secret...

I just signed up Chance for swimming class just as I have done for the past 5 summers. We started out in the mom and tot class and now Chance can tackle the water on his own. He still has much to learn, but he loves to swim.

When we first found out that Chance was deaf, I would tell the people when signing up for lessons that Chance was deaf. This was always followed by some stammering on the part of the person doing the sign-ups, followed by a furrowed brow and expressions of concern. Who needs to know how to swim the most....a hearing child who can hear you call out to him by the water, or a deaf child who will take out their implants by the water and not be able to hear you yell out a warning?

So I don't tell them anymore at sign ups that Chance is deaf. Chance has been taking classes on his own for 4 years now and he knows how the system works. I tell the teacher on the first day of class. Usually the teacher is a teen-ager earning money for the summer. Not one of the teachers has had a problem with Chance being deaf yet. They just take it in stride. I explain that Chance wears devices to hear, but that he takes them off in the water. I tell the teacher that if they just demonstrate what he is supposed to do, Chance will follow. I explaing to them that Chance can read lips quite well, so if they tap Chance to get his attention, and make sure that he is looking at them, he is good at figuring out what is going on. If Chance does not get what the teacher is saying, demonstrating what Chance is supposed to do usually takes care of that problem. This system has worked each year for the past few years. Every teacher that has taught Chance, has approached me at the end of the session and told me how much they enjoyed working with Chance and what a great kid he is. I figure why cause undue stress in the lives of those doing the sign-ups when it all works out in the end:)

Chance's implants actually can get wet, that is one of the selling points of this particular brand. We were really drawn to that feature after burning many calories each summer making sure that Chance was not in the sprinklers with his hearing aids or monitering neighborhood water gun fights to ensure that Chance had his hearing aids out before he got squirted.
So the implants can get wet, but they are not supposed to be submerged. So Chance takes them out for swimming. And we think a psychological barrier is neccessary at this point due to Chance's age and the fact that he baths with siblings:) Chance is used to having to keep the hearing aids dry, and until he is older and understands the limits of the water proofing, we don't let the implants get wet. Besides, when bathing with a brother, one can never be sure that ones implant is not going to be submerged. This could of course be solved by having Chance bathe alone, but he and his brother love to play in the tub and shower together. So for now, we just keep that psychological barrier in place.

I have peace of mind knowing though, that if Chance spontaneously decides to run through the neighbors sprinklers or gets into a water gun fight, that his implants are going to be ok. Chance takes his implants off if he is going to play in or with water, which is good anyway. I can't expect neighbor kids to know at what level is too much water for the implants when they are swimming or playing on slip and slides. We just play it safe at our house. But someday, when Chance is older, we will sit down and have the big talk with him. The talk that unfolds the mystery of his water tolerating implants.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chance hears a bird squawk....

Chance picked out a plastic raven bird about a year ago from the dollar store. Each of his siblings got a different bird so they have spent hours creating habits for their "pets".

Chance ran up the stairs last week his birds wings flapping and said,"Did you know my bird says EEEK? Listen!" Then Chance vigurously pumped his hand making the bird look like it was going to take flight at any moment. Sure enough, Chance's bird said "EEEEK", just as he said. Chance beamed as he made his bird fly back down the stairs EEEEEEKing all the way.

Normally, Chance's bird and the noises it can make would not be something that I spent a lot of time thinking about. Now however, I am quite excited about that bird and the fact that Chance can HEAR the noises that it makes.

Chance continually brings seemingly everyday things to my attention and shows me just how exciting all of these sounds around us really are.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What does cheating mean

Chance knows what the word cheating means. He was concerned that his brother was doing just that when he saw Chance' s Uno cards. Cheating is one of those words that is kind of difficult to explain the meaning of. Yet, Chance has picked up the meaning on his own.

Chance's sentences are becoming more articulate and better put together. The tenses he uses are right more of the time. He has confidence is his ability to hear and if he is not hearing something, he speaks up and lets us know.

Chance's confidence is growing when it comes to talking to people too. He feels that he will be understood. He is initiating more conversations with others. And his vocabulary and ability to express what he wants to say is growing everyday. When Chance is trying to find the words or is unsure of how to say something, he still cocks his head and slides his eyes over to the side as he seemingly searches his brain to give him the words. I love that expression. It shows Chance thinking and figuring things out. It is like being able to watch the cogs turn in his mind.

Chance continues to amaze us and exceed our expectations. It is a miracle unfolding everyday.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chance has a party..

Chance had his birthday party yesterday. There were 17 kids here playing games and trying to break open the pinata. Some of kids were cousins, some were siblings, some were deaf, and some could hear. I looked out at the kids and thought,"This is what I want for Chance. He can communicate and play with all the kids. There is no limit."

We played musical chairs and I must say that the deaf children did really well! In fact, one of the deaf children was the second to last to get out. The deaf kids had to concentrate a little harder to hear the music, but hear it they could. There were 5 kids altogether with cochlear implants.

I found it funny that during the game of Red Rover, when Chance was running really fast and his implant fell off, one of the other kids with an implant hurriedly walked over and picked up his implant and had it ready for Chance when he came back. It was just something that the kids with implants understood. We just got some skeleton molds made for Chance to help his implants. Skeleton molds are not as solid as the old molds, they are just something to use to help the implant say on.

Actually, the implants don't fall off nearly as often anymore. In fact, the Alexander Graham Bell Association had an event called "Talk, Walk, Run", yesterday and Chance came in 6th place in the 1K race. His implant never fell off while he was running around the park. In the Red Rover game, Chance was running at high speeds and attempting to break through the arms of his friends while they grimaced and tried to stop him.

I was reminded yesterday that Chance is able to play and interact with kids both hearing and deaf. What matters too Chance is that he can have fun and be a kid. Just what matters to his parent too:)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Journey is Worth It !

Chance used the word "actually" today when talking to me. We were at a dinosaur museum and I had asked him a question and he responded and then used the word "actually" to change his answer. It is so gratifying to see that Chance is picking up words just because he can now hear them.

I was talking to a mother who found out her son was deaf in the past year. She has been spending her time trying to figure out how to help her son and fighting to get him a cochlear implant. I know the path she walks. I was able to tell her though that it does get better. In the beginning you are so busy trying to figure out what your child needs and how to get them that help. I could relate to this mother and trying to figure out just what exactly her deaf son was hearing and how to discipline when you aren't sure if your child has heard what the rules are.

Looking back, from our humble beginnings into the world of deafness, I realize just how far Chance has come. I see how now that we have been able to get Chance the help that he needs through the implants, a huge weight has been lifted. We can focus on fine tuning Chance's language instead of wondering if he is acquiring language.

Chance used the word "fossils" to tell me about dinosaur bones. Just one year ago, Chance would have had a hard time hearing those two S's in fossil let as well grasping what the word meant. And it would have seemed a daunting task to explain what the word actually meant to Chance. Now, Chance is able to pick up words on his own and understand the meaning of words rather than having to focus on just trying to hear the words.

Yes, it does get better. And the journey is well worth it.