Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chance wants to be rich

One of the main things that started to bother Chance when he had his hearing aids, was that he missed so much when the T.V. was on. I would be watching the news, and Chance would ask me,"What did he say?" or "What is happening?" It really started to bother him that he was missing what was being said. We would try to explain what was being said to him, but Chance wanted to hear for himself. Besides, he became convinced that we were not telling him all that was said. And honestly, it was difficult to explain it all sometimes.
One example I remember vividly was when I was watching a news report about a accident in a nearby canyon.
'What happened?" Chance asked me.
"There was an accident." I told him
"Why?" Chance asked.
"A car slid off the road." I answered.
"Where?" Chance wanted to know.
"Cottonwood Canyon." I answered.
"What?!" Chance asked.
I then explained that it was a canyon in the mountains.

The reporter kept talking about the dangers of the roads, the snowstorm, the need for chains when traveling up the canyon etc.. Then they interviewed a police officer who talked about precautions that people should take when traveling up the canyon.

"What else are they saying?" Chance asked me almost accusatorily.
I couldn't go in to all that was said., Chance didn't know what chains were, he didn't know where the canyon was, and he would not have understood the precautions that the policeman was giving. But Chance knew that he was missing things that were being said. Things that he wanted to hear.

Flash forward to this evening when the news was on. A segment on teaching your kids about money came on. The catch line was, 'How to teach your kids to be rich," complete with flashing pictures of money. This got Chance's attention. After the reporter interviewed someone who said, 'You can teach your kids to be rich." Chance turned to me and said, 'I want you to teach me that. And then I will go out and my friends will say, 'Bring all your money! And I will count it all and they will say "Wow."
Chance hears the news now. I announced to his dad that Chance wanted us to tell him how to get rich. So, that's what we'll be working on the next little while.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chance delivers his line beautifully

Our church just had their annual program where the children sing. A few of the kids had speaking parts and Chance was one of them. I was absolutely delighted to realize that Chance had been given a part because it was a testimony that Chance was seen as being capable of doing it right. Not only did we as his parents know that he could get up and deliver a speaking part that could be understood by all, but other people around Chance knew it too.

When Chance was newly diagnosed, the people in our church were just as new to hearing loss as we were. No one knew what could be expected of Chance.
In the past little while, more and more people at church have approached me with a kind of awe and said,"Chance is doing so good. He talks so well!"

It is so nice to hear from other people who don't interact with Chance each day. They are seeing the same results that we are.....Chance is doing phenomenally well.

Not only did Chance deliver his lines like a pro, he memorized them by himself. It was important to him to know the lines, not just read them.

Chance is showing so many people who are around him just what a deaf child is capable of. There are no restraints.

Chance takes the family out to eat

Chance does excellent on his spelling tests. He is continually bringing home tests with 100% written across the top. Tonight, Chance's skill really payed off. Each time he has gotten a perfect score, his teacher has given him a gift certificate to Applebee's Restaurant. He has accumulated 4 in the past 4 weeks, so he wanted us to all go out to eat. He was willing to give one certificate to each sibling so that all might have a free meal.

It was with great excitement that we headed out to eat. The kids were excited and Chance was beaming at the opportunity to take us out to eat.

I find it amazing that Chance does so well at spelling. Hearing the subtle differences in words does not come as easily to him as it does when you have perfect hearing. He really focuses though and works hard to get the spellings right.

We are very proud of Chance and his willingness to strive for excellence. There are no limits to what Chance can do or be. And he comes with added perks. Chance plans to next save coupons from Burger King so he can take us out to eat again.

A Christmas tree and a cougar

We set off this year to the vast wilderness to chop down our own Christmas tree. We did this last year and the kids absolutely loved it. The only draw back is the fact that while most people seeking a tree in the snowy mountain tops seem to have some sort of all terrain vehicle, we have a powerful, yet limited in all terrain capacity, mini van.

Which is why we found ourselves pointing upwards on an ice covered road trying to figure out where to turn around so that we might be moving back downwards. Our van had reached its capacity. Yet, by some twist of fate, as we carefully manuvered the van to turn around, a seemingly acceptable Christmas tree appeared off to the side of the road. Thus once the van was turned around, we were able to investigate our potential future tree.

Another vehicle traveling the road needed more space to pass on the narrow road so we had to move the van over to the shoulder more. These friendly people informed us that the road did not get any better up where they had been and that we were wise to turn around when we did. infact, they had come with two cars and ended up ditching the minivan due to its lack of capacity in the conditions.

The friendly people had also given us another tidbit of information. They had spotted a cougar about 2 miles up the road. This was rare indeed, and we all took it to mean that perhaps it was a sign about a rilvary football game that was under way at the moment with one team having a cougar as their mascot. (turns out spotting a cougar did not help the team win).

We were not overly concerned about the cougar, they usually do not like to be around people, but we thought keeping the kids close would still be a good idea. We got an insight into our kids personalities when we told them to stay by us since a cougar had been spotted up the road. One of our kids grabbed his sling shot so that he would be armed. One of our kids got back into the van and had to be coaxed out to help chop the tree. The other two kids kept "spotting" the cougar. One was facinated at that thought and the other one did not want to let go of my hand.

Chance was the one who needed to be coaxed out of the van. He had been on a school field trip the day before to a museum where he had seen a stuffed couagar up close. He apparently was not sure he wanted to get personal with such an animal. He eventually came out and just scoped the area every once in a while for signs of a cougar.

What impressed me though as Chance talked to me as we rode home, was just how much Chance had been able to hear in the museum. He had gone with all of the 2nd graders in the school, and he had apparently heard all kinds of details as they toured the museum. He told us about how he had been able to hold an owl, using a glove to protect his hand from the claws. He told us how the big toad they had showed the kids could be hurt from the oils on peoples hands. He had all kinds of information to share. That means that he was hearing what was being said even with 3 classes of squirmy 2nd graders surrounding him.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The importance of speech

We recently had our IEP meeting and pushed for Chance to have speech therapy. We realize that Chance is doing really well. We are very happy about this fact. But there are still some things to work on. Isn't life just a work in progress for all of us?

Take tonight for instance. Chance walked up to me and asked,"How much does it cost for dots?"
"Dots?" I repeated back to him to make sure I had understood.

I had not understood.

"No." Chance said and then repeated the word which sounded remarkably like dots again, but at the same time a little like dolls.

"Dolls?" I asked.

Chance was getting frustrated now.

"No!" Then he emphasized the mystery word by saying it slower. Unfortunately, this still did not help me know what he was saying.

I paused and looked at Chance. He looked back at me, with a flabbergasted look that told me he could not believe I had not understood.

"Can you use a different word?" I asked hopefully.

Chance let out a dramatic sigh and asked," How much is it for an dolt at Applebee's?"

Suddenly, the puzzle came together for me. Chance has received some gift certificates at school lately for a free meal at Applebee's because he keeps getting 100% on his spelling tests.

"Adult? How much does it cost for an adult at Applebee's?" I asked.

Chance shook his head like, "Duh, that is what I have asked you three times now."

I broke down the word adult for Chance and told him how it is spelled and pronounced.

"Adult?!" He asked raising his eyebrows.

"Yes, I said, "there is an "L" in there."

We went over how you pronunciate adult a few times and then moved on.

Later in the evening I asked Chance how you say adult again and he repeated it back perfectly to me.
Chance has the ability to hear and say things. He just needs some guidance on learning some of the sounds. That is why we pushed for speech therapy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I heard his mom on the phone!

Chance hiked up to a big Y that sits on the mountain near our home. It entails climbing about 1,000 vertical feet in under a mile.

Chance's dad, sister, brother and one of Chance's best friends made their way up the mountain before the weather made it impossible for this season. Once they had reached the top of the Y, I got a call while in the grocery store.

"Mom, I am at the top of the Y!" Chance told me rather loudly. "It is big!"

Chance's friend also gave his mom a call to tell her that he was at the tip of the Y. While Chance's friend talked on the phone, Chance's dad reported that Chance got excited and said, " I can hear his mom on the phone!"

Chance can eavesdrop on cell phone conversations just like the rest of us do! Whether we want to or not, we get to hear the conversations of other people. Chance's implant technology is keeping up with phone technology.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why don't my ears work?

Chance came out from his bed last night and wanted to know if water in his ears made it so he could not hear.

I thought we had covered why Chance is deaf but maybe it is a subject that we need to discuss several times as he grows up. That would be alright. We want him to feel like he can ask questions and understand what is going on with his hearing or lack thereof.

Of course Chance asked this question without implants on. He loves to do that.

"The hairs in your ears don't work." I told Chance.

He raised his eyelids. I drew out a cochlea, showed how there were hairs in side that help you hear, and told Chance that his hairs didn't work right.

I then told him that the implant passed the cochlea and sent the sounds and messages right to his brain. He was truly interested now.

At this point, his dad got in on the conversation and all of our kids materialized from their beds and gathered around the computer as we looked up a diagram of the human ear. I got out a book on the body and turned it to the pages about the ear while everyone looked on.

Chance was quite intrigued with this session on ears and how they work. The other kids were too.
Funny, we have done school assemblies on Chance's hearing loss. We have pointed out diagrams in doctors office of the ear and showed Chance where the implant is located. We even went to a hospital open house a few weeks before the implant surgeries where hospital staff showed Chance what would happen and he saw a close up of the cochlea. He even saw exactly where the drilling would be in his head and got to drill into a very real looking skull.

I think we may have this conversation many times about Chance's ears and his hearing loss. I think that is great. Chance should be comfortable about why he is deaf and how the implants work.

I think part of the reason Chance had questions is because he is learning about the body at school. Chance is showing a great interest in the human body. He asks questions about our skull, what the brain looks like and tells us where the biggest bone in the body is. He also wanted to know why our spines were not the biggest bone in the body since it was so long. We explained that the spine is actually made up of many little bones called vertebrae.

We have established that Chance does not get sick when watching medical procedures when he watched the fat from his own finger be cut off and wanted to watch the stitches go in.

Maybe we have a future doctor in the family. Perhaps Chance could be a surgeon that performs implants surgeries, his brother can be an audiologist and his sister can be a speech therapist. By the time they are grown, our kids will all have inside information on the above specialist having had many opportunities to visit their offices during their childhood:)

A drive through the leaves

Chance and I were driving home yesterday and I noticed a pile of leaves that had fallen on the road as you enter our neighborhood. I had actually noticed them before and had rolled down the windows and driven through them to the delight of the other kids. It was great fun to hear all of the leaves crunching under the van tires. Chance had not been in the van at the time so I wanted to see if he could also hear the delightful sound of leaves crunching if we rolled down the windows.

I asked Chance if he wanted to drive through the leaves and he indicated that he would indeed enjoy that. So, I rolled down the front windows and we blew through the leaves.

I turned to Chance and asked him if he heard the leaves crunching. He said that he did and his face indicated that he was hearing something as a small smile played across his features.