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 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.