Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chance and the water

Our family went to an amusement park this past week and Chance as usual was the most daring out of all of our kids.

This was a little disconcerting when he was younger and we just found out he was deaf. Chance's dad and I talked about what the odds were that our deaf son would have to be the most daring out of all our kids.
We went to play at a lake with extended family when Chance was 5 and a half and of course his hearing aids came out so he could play in the water. Chance had had a session of swimming lessons that summer and figured that he had this swimming thing down. He even pointed out a huge rock clear out in the lake and informed me that he wanted to swim out to that rock. I told him it was too far and got him interested in playing with cousins on the shore.

Later in the day, as my husband and I were scanning the beach for our kids and their present location, we didn't see Chance. Not seeing Chance caused us to be more nervous than if we didn't immediately see one of the other kid since he wouldn't hear us call his name.

Suddenly I spotted Chance dog paddling in the direction of the huge rock out in the lake. He was still close to shore, but mercy!

I was reminded of this incident when we were at the amusement park and the kids were playing in the huge fountains set up for people to play in. Several different fountains of water are set up in a circular pattern and water squirts from various holes in the ground arcing up and surrounding you in towers of water.
There is one place where all of the different fountains come together causing a white wall of water with spray that is difficult to even see through/

Most people playing in the fountain run through the various sprays but few dare enter the deluge of water that is caused where the fountains all come together. That is the first place Chance went......I could barely see the colors of his clothes through the resulting mist of the crash of water. He came out just beaming. And really really wet.

Earlier in the day, Chance went to a water park inside the amusement park. The kids all talked about how Chance was the most brave on the water slides. He went off slides that caused you to free fall at the end. He thought that was great where his siblings thought once was enough thank you.

Chance's deafness does not stop him from taking chances and doing what he wants to do. Whether he can hear at the time or not! I am thankful for that.

A shirt can be used for many things

Our family went to an amusement park this past week. It was great fun and the kids had the time of their lives.

As usual, Chance was the most daring of our kids. He wants to go on the fastest, most intense rides. He amazed us with this desire when he was first diagnosed as being deaf. We went to Disneyland and Chance could not wear his hearing aids due to an infection. We weren't talented enough in sign to tell Chance what would be happening on the rides like Thunder Mountain etc. but he so badly wanted to go on them, that we let him. He would come off the rides like Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain begging to go again.

So it was at the amusement park that Chance pointed to the most intense rides and wanted to go on them. Lucky for him, both his parents like these rides too:) These sorts of rides have not been implant tested as far as centrifugal force as you round a corner at 60 mph. Go figure. Chance ends up taking his implants off for these rides and either putting them in his pockets or ours.

It just so happened that Chance and I went on a ride that consisted of sitting in a swing. It was not an incredibly intense ride. You sat down in a swing, then the swings are lifted up and you fly through the air over a lake in a circular motion. It is quite liberating and Chance put his hands out saying," I'm an eagle!"

I had been on the ride once already when Chance got on with me. We were some of the last people in line, so there were not any seats next to each other.

As the swings started to lift up, I suddenly wondered what impact whizzing through the air would do to implants. Chance was too far away to talk to, so I just prayed that they would stay on and not land in the lake at some point in the ride.

After the ride, Chance informed me that as the ride started to go, he wondered about his implants so he took them off and tucked them under his shirt.

Smart boy! Who needs implants when your an eagle anyway? Your eyesight makes up for the lack of hearing:)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Scout camp

Chance headed off for his first cub scout camp this morning. He was so excited and kept reminding us to set the alarm so that he would be at the church on time. He left at 6:30 a.m. this morning and no scout could have been more excited.
People who know Chance and are around him know that he is fully capable of anything that the other boys can do. But the fact that Chance is deaf really makes some people nervous. Deafness and cochlear implants are just so unfamiliar to most people.
I decided last week it would be a good idea to find out which adults would be attending the camp with the boys so that I could address any concerns anyone might have. The adult leaders were just going to be moms of the boys and cub scout leaders. I actually would have loved to go, and attended last year and really enjoyed it with my other son. This year it was not possible for me to attend. On the one hand, I really wanted to be there with Chance and would have gone if it was possible. One side of me realized that Chance going with out me was good in the sense that he would be on his own and it would give him experience in independence. Chance is a pretty independent kid, but if I had gone, I think some of the leaders would have defaulted Chance to me since they were unsure of his capabilities.
When I called to find out who the leaders would be, I told the Committee Chair that Chance would be able to do anything at camp and shouldn't have a problem. She said she had been wondering about that. I told her to have any leaders call me that had questions and that we welcomed questions. We are not shy about informing people about Chance and what he can do. We would rather have people ask than have them nervous about being around Chance.
Anyone who is around Chance and knows him is aware that he is like any other child and will do anything that the other boys do. He does not require a lot of special attention, he just may not hear what is said the first time.
It turns out one of our neighbors and friends was attending and she knows Chance quite well. She has babysat him and he has played at her house many times. I knew that she would lead the other leaders in treating Chance as any other cub scout. That set my mind at ease.
Chance came back from camp exuberant. He bought a pocket knife and a 4 pack of root beer. That's right, root beer. Of all the things to buy at the trading post, Chance was most taken with the knife and root beer. It must be really good root beer though because Chance's brother who attended camp last week came home with an empty bottle of it so we would know what to buy when we saw it in the store.
The only casualty of the day was that Chance lost the watch that I bought him on SATURDAY. That's right, two whole days ago. He did have a good reason though. They made boats and raced them in water and Chance was worried the water would ruin his watch....which it could have. Chance stuck the watch in his pocket for protection and then somewhere along the way it fell out.
Oh well, You win some you lose some. Chance informed me that I could buy a new one for him if I wanted and he could help pick it out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chance stands up for his rights

Chance had his last game of baseball for the season. He has really enjoyed playing and people have commented on how fast he is.

During one of the games, after he hit the ball, he didn't start running right away because it looked like it would be a foul ball. Turns out it was in bounds, so Chance had to book it to first base as the other team was almost on the ball when he started to run. The ball was thrown to first and the first baseman started coming off the base to tag Chance before he made it. Chance dodged and twisted to avoid being touched with the ball. That was entertaining to watch for all the spectators at the game. Chance was eventually tagged out but he did not go down gently.

During the last game, the coach told Chance to be first baseman as they headed to the outfield. Chance did not hear him at first so another kid ran to first base. Every kid would rather play first base where you are sure to see some action rather than be clear out in the field where you just hope a ball makes it relatively close to you so you get to do something.

After Chance grabbed his mitt and realized that the coach had told him to play first and someone else was now standing on first, he walked up to the coach and told said,"It is my turn to play first." I was glad to see this as Chance stuck up for himself and did not just let it slide. I want him to feel confident enough to point out when he needs something or did not hear something.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Should we be worried that a deaf child is swimming?

Chance started his second session of swimming lessons for the summer. As usual, I went over to Chance's teacher to tell them that he is deaf. We actually did something a little different this time in that we had Chance keep his implants on for the first few minutes of class so that he could talk to his teacher. Chance is now at the swimming level where he is swimming across the length of the pool learning the breast-stroke, free style etc. Since he would be far away from his teacher at times and not able to read their lips, we thought that having Chance and his teacher talk at first might help them come to a mutual understanding of what would be going on.

I usually try to get the teacher alone since I don't want to make a big deal about the fact that Chance is deaf. In the past I have found that some people at the pool are visibly uncomfortable when I tell them that Chance is deaf. Not the teachers who will actually work with Chance, but some of the people in the office, or around the pool. Its like they don't know what to think and are wondering if this deaf child swimming is a good idea or not.

So I have learned to just enroll Chance and introduce him to his teachers on the first day of class and give them basic instructions like look at Chance when you talk to him and tap him if you want his attention and he is not looking at you. After the first lesson, the teachers have all told me that things went great and Chance was catching on.

This time however, Chance's class was located right under a lifeguard tower and about 3 pool staff who were helping kids find their classes were standing right next to Chance's class. I hoped the area would clear real quick so that I could talk to the teacher alone, but after several minutes, it became apparent that I would most likely not get that opportunity.

Chance's dad was at class since he had just flown in from a trip and was home. He came over and told me that he would talk to Chance's teacher so that I could get to the mom and tot class.

I was there as the conversation began and as I have experienced before, worried looks flashed across the faces of the pool staff and the lifeguard leaned down and wanted to hear what was going on as soon as she heard that Chance was deaf. "Does he need someone to sign to him?" The life guard wanted to know. After she heard him speak, she actually said, 'Wow! He talks really well!"

His dad assured them that Chance was capable and that while he was deaf, he had his implants in at the moment so that he could hear the initial instructions on the first day.
I have been watching Chance from afar and he is doing well. I have also talked to the teacher and asked her if Chance needs to wear his implants at the beginning of class so she can talk to him. She has said that he is doing quite well and that we don't need to bring in the implants.

I often wonder what the swimming experience is like for Chance as he is not hearing the splashing, the smack of the diving board or the chattering of kids all over the pool. That is what an experience at the pool is for me, the pool noises and the feel of the water. I would love to be able to experience the pool through Chance's eyes for one day.

Chance is learning to dive correctly, so there is focus on his form as he enters the water. He does what I did as a kid which is to enter the pool with his head not all the way down as that is a little scary as a kid. His teacher of course is trying to help him dive in straight. Since Chance can not hear, I watched one day as Chance was just getting ready to dive off the side of the pool, when his teacher took hold of his hips to help him line up right.

Chance looked startled as he turned to see who was behind him since he did not hear anyone come up. His teacher is working with him to help him straighten up and said that he is coming along. I told her that we would work with him too.

The lifeguard seems to have relaxed about the fact that there is a deaf child in the water after watching him in class for a few days. As for Chance's diving form, I think he's getting it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The battle continues....

Chance's dad just got back from an Alexander Graham Bell Association Conference in Wisconsin. He learned a lot and brought home some good info that we can use for Chance such as teaching music to kids with implants. I really feel that if Chance is given the opportunity, he can learn to hear the different keys and learn to sing. He sings now and he really likes it. He has been getting used to the implants these past few years so we haven't pushed the concepts of notes. We have been kind of unsure what exactly can be expected from a deaf child with implants and musical notes. Now, we feel that he has had the implants long enough to begin helping him to learn the difference in notes and pitches. We don't know exactly what he'll hear, but we feel with training, he can learn notes etc. and be successful with music. He just needs the exposure. Probably more exposure to the actual notes than our other kids though they could use with some formal presentation of notes too. Where is Julie Andrews and the Sound of Music when you need them?

Chance's dad was exposed to other things at this years conference. There was a deaf group protesting the Alexander Graham Bell Association and their focus on deaf children and people speaking.

I look at Chance and I think, so you feel you have the right to protest what the implants have done for my little boy? We don't stand outside of sign language events waving signs and protesting that people are signing. I really don't care what anyone decides to use for communication for their deaf child. I feel that if they choose to sign, they can be trusted to make that decision and go on their way. But for some reason, there are groups that sign that feel that my decision for my son is some how their business. I don't quite know what these groups want really. Do they want all technology thrown away? Do those protesting think parents will remove the implants from off of their children's heads and begin only to sign due to the protests? What would they tell kids like Chance, that hearing is wrong, and his parents should be punished for helping him hear? I don't feel that I have betrayed my son by pursuing hearing options for him. In fact, I feel that we have opened up Chance's possibilities in life and that being able to hear will help him accomplish anything he wants to. This was not a decision that was taken lightly and for other people to continue to hound those who choose to let their children hear is unfathomable to me.

If people don't like implants, they should not get them for themselves or for their children. What is so hard about that?