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.

Monday, May 14, 2007

To loose or lose......that is the question

Chance is hearing so much now and we are working with him to fine tune his hearing. The English language has many funky spellings, grammer rules and sound-alike words. Not to mention words that mean different things depending on the context. You really get an appreciation for the complexities of English when you are so actively teaching another person the rules.

Yesterday while reading out loud, we came across the word loose. While feeling out to see if Chance knew what that word meant, Chance pondered and then said gleefully,"Lose - like Utah!"

This would be a good time to mention that Chance is an avid BYU fan and so BYU's rival Utah losing sounds good to him. (Just for the record, Chance's Grandpa and a few uncles are Utah fans...Chance has just chosen to follow his Dad's influence:)

"No, not lose, but loose." I said. "Like when your tooth is ready to come out it is loose."

Chance scrunched his nose a little bit like he was trying to digest this new information. We wrote down the two words on a peice of paper and showed him that lose had one o, and loose had two o's. Chance shook his head vigorously and told us,"I know."

So, we'll see if Chance can hear the difference between the two words in the next few days as we find instances to use both words and familiarize Chance with both their meanings and slight sound differnece.

Those two words do sound an awfully lot alike. This is the kind of thing Chance is going to have to focus on and work on "hearing" the differnces in subtle sounds.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chance is famous!

Chance's picture is splashed across the front page of section B of the Tribune Newspaper today. The paper was writing an article about identifying hearing loss in children early, as a result of a panel discussion/press conference at the national press club in Washington D.C. yesterday. A reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune wanted to write an article about early detection of hearing loss in children. One of the talking points of the press release was that many babies/children who get a hearing loss diagnosis don't get the follow up care that they need to utilize the available options. The reporter wanted to talk to a family of a deaf child who did not get the services immediately. Someone from A.G. Bell called our house to talk to Chance's dad since he is currently president of the Utah A.G. Bell Chapter. They got me instead:) Since Chance wasn't your typical diagnosis, the reporter called and wanted to interview me. Then later a photographer came to our home and took some pictures of Chance. Chance showed his friends at school the paper. It isn't every day after all that one is in the newspaper.

The newspaper article was not just about Chance, but about kids getting the help they need when they are diagnosed with hearing loss. There are so many dedicated people working on helping these kids at both the national and state levels. I have been impressed with the work and energy that many of these professionals put into getting children with hearing loss the help that they need.

The work to help these kids and their families is so important. The technology is here to help these kids with hearing loss and deafness get what they need. I am grateful for opportunities like the newspaper article that high light the need for awareness of hearing loss which is the number one birth defect in America. I had no idea this was the case until I got into this world of deafness through Chance.

I have great hope for the future of children diagnosed with hearing loss and deafness. I have great hope and confidence that Chance will be successful with his implants and be able to live his life able to do anything that he wants to do. Chance was tested in school for the end of the school year. He is still 2 years behind in language, but that gap will close over time. Chance is thriving with his bilateral implants and amazes his teachers, professionals and his parents:) with his progress.

We are very grateful to all of those dedicated people who are working to help children with hearing loss. Many work behind the scenes and are never given acknowledgement as being an important part of getting deaf kids the help they need. But we know they are there and are more thankful for them than we can adequately express.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Having a deaf child affects everyone in the family..

Having a deaf child in the family affects all of the other kids as well. My kids have all been little troopers and learned how to occupy themselves in small quarters with creative entertainment options. One of those entertainment options seems to be having to use the restroom frequently when we have been at an appointment for an extended period of time:) Though, I have learned from my daughter that pointing the air dryer down the back of your shirt, does make you warmer on cold days:) And for some reason, commodes in many hospitals sound like a jet liner taking off when you flush them. So, when the excitement in the patient room wears thin, there is always the bathroom to use for entertainment.

We have a game that we play where we take turns hiding a penny in the room for the others to find. We have also acted out stories such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", and have put blown up surgical gloves on our heads so we look like chickens while waiting in various rooms for doctors or other professionals.

It is a delicate juggling act to make sure that all of the appointments and time spent at home, that is needed to ensure that your deaf child gets what he needs does not leave the other children feeling slighted.

My kids are still young, so they don't really know any different. I have talked to other parents with deaf children whose children are older, and resentment can develop. The siblings of the deaf children comment on how much more time mom is spending doing things related to the deaf child. Some parents even report that in moments of frustration their non deaf kids will exclaim, "I wish I didn't even have a deaf brother/sister!"

Having a deaf child definitely impacts the entire family. I'm sure that families with any child requiring special or additional care face the same frustrations. The whole family is affected by all of the appointments and extra attention that parents need to pay to the deaf child. There is a window of time to get language in and you have to maximize that time.

Although, it can add some extra strain at times, I know that having a deaf child can also strengthen a family too. My kids are usually very sweet together and people have commented on how Chance's siblings look out for him and make sure that he knows what is going on.

We do try to make sure that the other kids get the time they need too. Sometimes that means holding a tea party for the neighborhood girls at our house or all of us driving in the car while a scout sells Scout O Rama tickets. And sometimes it just means taking an afternoon off and letting the kids just play and have a free afternoon. We have found that even little week end getaways as a family can have very good effect. (It’s good to have family in St. George :) ) A week end away with no appointments and no daily schedule. Just time to play with the kids and spend time with them.

I don't feel that having Chance has created a big hardship for out family. On the contrary, he is a great blessing to all of us, and we wouldn't trade him for anything. He is a light that brightens our days.

I just want to be careful so that my children don't start to wish that they didn't have a deaf brother.

I overheard my oldest son telling a friend yesterday that he is tired of always going to people's houses while I am at appointments. I am trying to be aware of the needs of my other kids and choose carefully what I commit my time to. We explained to my son that we knew it was hard and we appreciated all of his help. We also tried to explain that we need to put extra effort in now so that Chance can learn how to hear with his implants and acquire language. By doing this now, we hope that Chance will get what he needs for later. Our son seemed to take it in stride, but I know that it is not easy for him.

We are really trying to be aware of the impact all of the hustle has on the family. I am looking forward to summer when I plan on giving the kids more carefree time and we have some fun family activities planned.

I know that our family has learned many things through having a deaf child. I have great hope that we can find the right balance and all come out stronger for the experiences in the end.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Speaking of dinosaurs...

"All of the dinosaurs ran and hid when they saw T-Rex coming, but not triceratops. Triceratops stared at T-Rex. He was not going to let T-Rex scare him."

That is how the story went that Chance read to me yesterday. We had a great discussion about the story and Chance even wrote down a summary of what the story was about. When Chance showed me his writing book, it said: "Triceratops stare T-Rex."

I asked Chance if something was missing in the sentence. He said no. I helped him see that stare should be stared. He then changed stare to stared. Then I asked Chance if something else was missing. He thoughfully, studied his sentence and told me no.

I then asked Chance which sounded right:"Mommy stared at Chance." Or "Mommy stare Chance." Chance said that the second one sounded right.

I explained to Chance that the word "at" needed to be in the sentence to make it sound right. So Chance changed it.

Later at dinner that night, Chance's dad (who had been apprised of the earlier conversation), asked Chance what happened in the story with the dinasaurs. Chance said that Triceratops SCARED T-Rex. Ah hah! We showed Chance that the story said STARED instead of SCARED. Then Chance's dad asked him if he knew what stared meant. Chance said no. So we taught him what stared meant over dinner, partly by playing the staring game (which is hard to win when you wear contacts).

Now, Chance's original sentence makes sense! Triceratops scare T-Rex. Sure it needs a 'd' at the end, but Chance must have been really confused when I had him to add the word"at" to his work!!

Scare and stare do sound awfully alike and both would work in the context of the story.
Apparently, we need to ensure that Chance understands exactly what the word is when he is convinced that he already has it right:)