Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another reality about having a deaf child...

Having a deaf child can turn ordinary events into something more interesting. For example, Chance was invited to a birthday party today. Nothing out of the ordinary about that. This party was going to be held at a swimming pool. Chance doesn't hear much at all with out his implants and he can not wear them while he is swimming:)

We discussed what we should do. Should we send the implants with Chance so that he could hear on the way to the pool and then hear after everyone got out of the pool to do the presents? Where would Chance put them while he was swimming? Would the parents at this party feel comfortable being in charge of the implants ? There were probably lockers, but Chance is still a bit young to keep track of key while he swims. And he has never used a locker before by himself.

The other option was, Chance leaves the implants at home but misses out on all of the conversation to the pool and can't hear when the presents are being opened etc.

We talked to the parents of the boy having the party and ended up sending Chance with his implants. It was made a little easier by the fact that Chance's older brother was also invited to the party so we told him to remind the other kids that while they were swimming, Chance would not be able to hear them and they would need to tap him or wave at him to get his attention. It is very easy for little kids to forget that when Chance does not have his implants on, he does not hear them. You can't blame them, it is not something they really think about. In the summer, I have to remind the neighborhood kids sometimes when they are all playing in our little pool or having a water gun fight that Chance can not hear them because his implants are off. Chance does read lips quite well, but that doesn't help when your friend is yelling at you to get out of the way because he is jumping into the pool.

When Chance' s dad talked to the mother of the boy having the party, she was very nice about it. (Another one of our great neighbors). He told her that Chance would not be able to hear while they were swimming and she said that she would be sure to remind her son that Chance would not be able to hear in the pool so to make sure that he was still included. Chance ended up putting his implants inside of his little implant case and leaving them in the car while they swam.
Chance can do anything that any other child can do, sometimes the deafness just makes it more interesting.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Reminders of the realities of having a deaf child

Tonight we were reminded of some of the realities of having a deaf child.

We are doing some work on our yard that requires using a bobcat.( the mini tractor thingy:)

I took the kids to see their grandparents while their dad dug out part of the yard. When we got home it was dark outside. To my surprise, their dad was still going at it in the backyard. The kids of course wanted to bound out of the van to help their dad with his work. After we had pulled into the garage, I told the kids that we needed to go into the house, turn on the lights in the backyard and then go out to see daddy so that he would know that we were home. My oldest son then informed me that Chance had already left the van and ran to the side of the house.

Chance's implants had both run out of batteries at his grandparents house (we should keep some there - duh), and the pack of batteries in the van were gone. So when we pulled into the garage, Chance did not hear me tell the kids about how daddy would not be able to see them in the dark.

I jumped out of the van and ran to the side of the house. Chance's dad was down at the farthest corner of the yard and there stood Chance right behind the bobcat and I could see that his dad had no idea that he was there. Chance's dad could not hear me over the nosie of the tractor and neither could Chance. Signing would not work because it was dark and Chance was not looking at me. Even if the implants had been working, Chance would have not heard me over the noise of the machine.

I started sprinting down the length of the house hoping that Chance would see me and run toward me or his dad would see me and stop the machine.

Thankfully, our neighbor was out in his yard too and he saw Chance. ( I am so grateful for him!) He was closer than I was and saw the situation. So he went up behind Chance and tapped him. I got there about that time and we got Chance to walk away with us and I whisked him back to the garage where the other kids had obediently waited.

We then went through the house, turned on the lights in the backyard and I went out to let Chance's dad know that we were home now. He stopped the machine, and then pulled his hood off and took out the earphones he had on. There was no way he could have heard anything while working.

I told him what had just happened with Chance and he was amazed. He had no idea that Chance, the neighbor or myself had been next to him as he worked. He then asked me how long ago it had all happened. I told him about 3 to 4 minutes ago. He stood there for a minute and then said that about 3 to 4 minutes before as he was working, the machine had refused to move. He kept trying to move it, but it would not budge. Then, after a few minutes, the machine started working again.

We have truly been blessed tonight and know that the prayers that we and others send up each day asking for Chance to be watched over are heard.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Questions, Questions, Questions!

Chance: " I want to see a volcano."
Me: "Maybe we can see one in the summer."
Chance: "How do volcanos break peoples houses?"
Me: "Because the rock coming out of the volcano is hot."
Chance: "I do not want the volcano to break our house."
"There are no volcanos by our house." I say.
"Uh huh. I saw one." Chance informs me.
"Oh, did your brother show you where one is on the way to grandmas house in St. George?" I ask him.
"Uh huh. Chance says.
"That volcano is dormant, it doesn't work anymore." I assure him.
"Why does the volcano not work anymore?" Chance wants to know.
"Sometimes volcanos just do that." I tell him.
"Why are volcanos hot?" Chance asks me.
"Because the inside of the earth is hot and it melts the rock which then comes out of the volcano. I tell him.
Chance takes time to internalize this.
"Who made the volcanos?" Chance wants to know.
"God." I tell him.
"Why does God make a volcano that is hot and can break peoples houses?" Chance wonders.
"The earth is put together like a puzzle I tell him and where the pieces come together, there are volcanos."
More pondering follows on Chance's part.

This was the conversation that Chance and I had IN THE VAN the other night. Even though Chance was in back of the van, he could carry on a conversation with me. And not just any conversation, but a conversation full of new facts. At one point Chance kept asking me "what?" so I told him I would talk to him more at home. But then Chance calmly told me that the baby had stopped making noise so he could hear me now.

Wow. I had not expected Chance to ever be able to hear me this good in the van when he was in the very back and I was facing forward. Granted, two of his siblings were missing which cut down on the noise, but still, it is amazing.

Chance has ALL kinds of questions now. The other night he just kept asking me one question after another about all kinds of subjects. I finally had to tell him that he could ask one more question and then it was time for bed.

Chance has always been inquisitive, but before he was not hearing enough to catch the answers. He missed out on a lot and had to really focus on HEARING what I said. Now Chance can focus more on WHAT I am saying. He has questions about all of the wonders he sees around him or hears about.

He is just blossoming right before our eyes. It is fun to share things with Chance and to see him learn and grow. One of the biggest heartaches for me was watching Chance struggle as he had all of these questions in his little mind that he could not get satisfactory answers to because the vocabulary wasn't there and he had to put so much energy into just hearing the words.

Now Chance seems to have a new freedom. He does not have to put so much energy into hearing but can instead focus on content. I told Chance the other night that he was talking so well. He just looked at me and said."Why do you say that?"

"Because you are talking so good!" I told him.

He just looked at me as if to say "What is your point?" Apparently this is all just normal to him:)

It is like watching a flower unfold and open up revealing the beauty that is with in.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Other people are noticing Chance's progress...

It is always nice to hear people talk about how well Chance is doing. It is a topic we don't tire of:)

During the last few weeks, several people have commented on how well Chance is doing. One is a neighbor that lives on the corner. She sees Chance's brother a lot but has not seen Chance in a while. She was amazed at how well he is doing. Her son who does not know Chance(he is visiting after being wounded in Iraq), said he could hardly tell he was deaf he talked to him so well.

Chance's teacher at school(the school for the deaf teacher) said that Chance is continually saying things that amaze her. Yesterday, he explained to the rest of the kids how air dried up a marker that the lid had been left off of. Then he told the kids that air is all around us. His teacher also said sometimes when she hears Chance talking his phrases etc. sound like things any other 6 year old would say. She enjoys watching Chance's language grow and unfold.

Chance is reading at a middle 1st grade level and continues to progress. This is a child who went two years with out language...and now he is reading at the level that his peers are. When we started, Chance would balk when I asked him to read a book he had not read before. Now I regularly introduce books that Chance has not seen before and he reads them. Tonight when I brought out a new book for him to read he looked at it and responded,"I think I can read that book." And indeed he did. I can get Chance to read for 20 to 30 minutes every night. When we started, it was a challenge to get Chance to feel that he could indeed do that.(thanks a heap to his reading teacher:).

We have noticed that Chance has been progressing by leaps and bounds, but it is nice to hear other people say that they are noticing too. Chance has started saying 'Uh huh. " When you ask him a question which is a new development.

Chance has also started phrasing things the exact way that his brother does which means he is catching those little language differences.

We really could not have asked for more when Chance got the second implant. Having the two implants really gives him a boost.

One thing that I really love is being able to explain things to Chance and feel that he is understanding what I say. Chance has always been inquisitive about things around him, but before the implants, he did not grasp what was being said many times. It was frustrating to both of us as he wanted to know something, and I would try to figure out a way to explain it so he would understand. It was heartbreaking to see that Chance just did not get what I was saying. He would sometimes ask me the same question over and over and I would try to come up with an answer that he could understand.

I explained to him what air was just the other day. He was absolutely amazed as his face attested. He had never realized that air was all around us before and that air made his hands dry and was what we blew up balloons with. He got the concept so well, that he transferred air drying things up to markers and told the other kids at school about it. I love that. I love being able to share things with him and to see his face light up or his eyes shoot up in surprise as he starts to contemplate things that he hasn't before.

Chance's ability to progress so fast is nothing short of a miracle. He is truly blowing all of us out of the water with his progress.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ahhhhh...the old days.

Tonight, I told Chance that he could not have a bedtime snack if he did not eat his dinner. He asked me "What?" once. I told him several times just to make sure that we were clear as he was not doing a real effective job of eating his dinner.

After dinner, Chance sat down to read his book from school. I told him to wait as I was changing a diaper. Chance kept reading. I told him to stop again. Chance kept going. I patted Chance's leg."Wait!" I said. Chance looked wounded and started to cry.

"He doesn't have his implants on." His brother informed me. Sure enough, Chance did not have either implant on.

"Where are your implants?" I asked Chance while I did the motion that we use to tell Chance to put his implants on when he can not hear because they are not on.

"I do not know!" He said through his tears.

Chance had showered right before dinner as he was covered in mud. The newest activity in the neighborhood now is to make a mud city over in the sand. The neighborhood kids have been working on this thing for several days now. By the time it is time for dinner, the kids are caked in mud. When Chance came into the house before dinner, I had sent him to the shower. When I checked on him, he had placed his implants on the counter. I slid them into the drawer so that they would be better protected against being knocked off the counter or pulled into the sink etc. Apparently Chance did not know where the implants were and did not ask. I had forgotten about them in the rush of dinner and getting the kids to read.

Who knows all that Chance missed while the implants were not on. It was probably at least an hour and a half that he walked around not hearing anything.

So, it was just like the old days, when we would talk to Chance and he would not hear us:) Poor kid. He was probably nervous to say that he lost the implants. As far as he was concerned, he had taken them off, set them on the counter and now they were gone. As soon as I told him where the implants were he went and put them right on.

I am just so used to him having implants now that it did not occur to me that Chance might be with out them. Chance just sat there on the chair reading away while I asked him to wait. He did not even look up.

This is what our lives were like for about 2 years before we realized that Chance had gone deaf. We talked to him, thinking he heard us and he sometimes faked it really well or seemed to be ignoring us.

I like the new way better where Chance hears us:)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Coat zippers make a ripping noise....

Chance told me tongiht that he wanted to show me something. He was telling me something about ripping and his coat. Not exactly words a mother likes to hear.
Fearing the worst, I pursued the conversation.
"Your coat ripped?" I asked.
"No. Chance said. "I want to show you something."

Chance ran to the door and put his coat on. Smiling, he pulled his zipper up to the very top, undid it a little and then quickly zipped it to the top again.
"See, it sounds like a rip!" He beamed at me.
It is so fun to see what Chance can hear now. It is fun to be a part of his world as he discovers things. We all should get so excited realizing that our coats make a ripping sound when we zip them up. A thrill all winter long.