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.