Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chance and the FBI

Chance's sister came inside the house complaining that Chance and his friend were not letting her ride her bike in certain spots on the sidewalk and road because they were policemen and there was an accident.

Knowing that Chance had learned a little bit about the FBI when he attended his dad's 'take your sons to work day", I thought I had an answer to our dilemma.

I told Chance's sister to tell him that she was from the FBI and so she could go through the barricade.

Then I stepped outside to go for a walk to our mailbox. Chance came charging up to me and said,
"She can not be from the FBI! We are the policemen and there is an accident! No one can go through."

"Me and your sister are from the FBI so we can go through." I told him.

"Noooooo! I do not want anyone to be from the FBI! Only policemen can come through here!"

Chance's dad chalked this up to Chance learning that the FBI is not usually involved with traffic accidents.
It is good to know that Chance was hearing and learning during the presentation.

I still maintained that his sister and I were from the FBI (for her sake) but we tried not to interfere with their police work. We struck a compromise when the boys showed us a way that we could skirt the accident and still get through, and we tried to stay away from the areas roped off with bikes.

Look at me

We were coming home from Salt Lake tonight and Chance had a question for me. We had just stopped at a park-n-ride to drop Chance's dad off.

"Mom! Look at me." Chance said, waiting until I had turned around completely in the seat and was looking right at him. (I was not driving during this time, I think I should note).

"How did daddy's car get here?" He asked.

I was wondering why I had to be looking at Chance while he talked to me. After all, I am not the one with implants. But then I realized that Chance had told us that he was taking off his implants earlier in our ride home because he was going to sleep.

He wanted to make sure that I was looking at him so that he could lip read my response.

Smart kid. It is nice to know that he plans ahead.

Of course, then Chance wanted a full blown explanation of how the car got there, who his dad had driven with and how he got to where we were in Salt Lake City.

Chance does this sometimes, asks detailed questions while his implants are off and then waits for your detailed answer. When he does not catch all that was said, then he screws up his face and says," Uh?"

That is what happened tonight. I told him to put on his implants and then I would explain it again.
Unfortunately, Chance's dad had put the implants in his pocket when Chance took them out.

So the mystery of how his dad's car got to the parking and ride had to wait until we got home.

Monday, April 28, 2008

It's all about LOCATION, LOCATION LOCATION!

Today I went for a walk to get the mail with Chance's little brother. Chance's little brother had the keys to the mailbox which also happen to be keys to the van. He loves to push the button that locks the car so that he can hear the little honk sound it makes. As we strolled down the driveway, the little "honk" sound could be heard every few seconds.

At the bottom of the driveway were Chance and his friend. Chance was preoccupied with something and looked over in our direction with a questioning expression and then began looking down the road and over to his side. It occurred to me that Chance was trying to locate the sound he was hearing. He had looked in our direction first, but it didn't seem to make sense that we would be the cause of the noise since we were just walking down the driveway.

"Chance, it is the van honking." I explained, and showed him the van keys.

Chance started to laugh. "I thought it was that car up there!" He said pointing to a car that was pulling out of a nearby driveway.

He heard the sound coming from our direction, but it didn't make sense that a horn would be honking since no one was in the van. It was interesting to watch Chance hone in and locate the source of the sound. He guessed it would be the car pulling out when he couldn't figure out how it was coming from our direction.

I continue to be amazed at how well Chance is localizing sounds. He is getting quite good at figuring out where noises are coming from. Before the implants, it was a struggle for him to figure out where sounds were coming from. He would look all around and have to improvise with what he saw to deduce where the sounds might be coming from. Now, I routinely see Chance turning his head in the direction of the passing motorcycle, or the person who is talking loud at the store. He is doing what the rest of us who hear do, turning to see what is going on when we hear something that is new, loud or suddenly different.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"The Big Daddy"

I knew this question would come up sooner or later with Chance. And it happened the other day on the way to our AV(audio verbal) therapy session. Chance asked if his older brother was 7 when he was in first grade. I told him that his brother was7 in second grade. Then Chance commented that his little friend Cade across the street is 7 and in second grade. I agreed that this was indeed true.

I then explained to Chance that since he could not hear for a while when he was little, his brain needed some time to learn to hear once we got hearing aids. Then we talked about how the hearing aids didn't let Chance hear enough, so he got the implants. I told him that since he had had to learn to hear, he spent one more year with one of his teachers. It was not a repeat of a grade, but rather a needed time for Chance to work on his language and hearing . He learned what other kids his age were learning, with an emphasis on acquiring language that he needed. Then he mainstreamed into kindergarten the next year just going into a regular class. He would then stay and eat lunch and attend a class through the School for the Deaf in the afternoons. He figured out that all the other kids in his kindergarten class went home after half a day and wanted to know about that last year:)

It was the right decision for Chance as he really needed that opportunity to literally learn to hear again with an implant and do some more catch up. Chance is now at the top of his class and doing extremely well. He scores well on tests and flourishes.

Chance took this news well enough. He is just figuring things out and sorting through. He just kind of said "Oh." With a look of "Okay then!" on his face.

The funny thing is that while we were talking, I was telling him that there were other kids that were 7 in first grade too. A few of the deaf children his age for various reasons took the same path that Chance took. So I was naming some of the other kids that were 7 and I came to a boy named Peyton who is the oldest out of all the kids.

Chance laughed and said, "Ya, Peyton is the Big Daddy." I laughed and repeated "The big daddy?"

Chance said "Ya, that means he is the oldest."

I guess that 50's theme that they did for the Speech Fair last month really stuck in Chance's head.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Trusting Chance

The weather has turned nice and the onset of summer is floating on the wind. Baseball, swimming lessons, summer break and running through the sprinklers are all right around the corner.

Actually, running through the sprinklers is a thing of the present if you are Chance and his friends. Sure the temperature may only be in the low 60's, but one can never pass an opportunity to run through the sprinklers when they beckon you to come play with them.
Some of our neighbors have a big "bowl" in their backyard. Their yard is used to collect rainwater etc. when it rains. Yesterday these neighbors had their sprinkler going in their backyard. It was one of those that rotates back and forth from side to side. The owner of the home told the kids they could run through the sprinkler as long as they didn't move it. So Chance, his brother and his friends were beside themselves with joy as they ran down the sides of the bowl and into the sprinkler.

I went on a walk to get the mail and watched the boys for a minute. Chance did not have his implants on, as we (meaning his dad and I) have decided against telling him that his implants could actually stand the water. There are kids running all over, if an implant comes off and someone steps on it.....I don't want the neighbors to see me cry.

I walked up to Chance who was lying with his friends on the driveway to suck up heat from the cement. I asked him where his implants were. He said that they were over by his shoes and pointed around the back of the house. (We communicate with sign or lip reading when Chance's implants are off).

Big deep breath from me.

I have to trust that Chance can track his implants. He loves them and knows how important they are in his being able to hear and he takes very good care of them. It is just that when you have a group of kids together playing, and there is water, and frolicking and horseplay.......I don't know that any of the kids will be thinking to themselves,"Wow! We had better keep a lookout for Chance's implants and be sure not to step on them! We might see Chance's mom and dad cry should anything happen to them!"

There are some alternatives: One, Chance takes off the implants before he gets near the sprinklers. If he is running through our sprinklers this is clearly the way to go. Even if he is across the street this is the way to go. He does come in and hand me his implants sometimes when there are water gun fights or he is getting ready to run through the sprinklers. Or he'll come put them on the cupboard next to the storage box they go in at night. This neighbor lived at the end of the street though, and all the boys were riding their bikes down together. I don't want Chance to be left out of the conversations and interactions because he has left his implants at home.

Second, I can listen attentively all summer for the swishing sound of water in the neighborhood and start tailing Chance where ever he goes. Of course we'll also need to start saving for the therapy Chance will need when he is older and he needs to tell someone about how his mom followed him everywhere when he was a child. I kind of already did that when Chance got his hearing aids. We lived in a new neighborhood and everyone was putting in their sprinkler systems and turning them on to test them. Then everyone got new sod or seed and ran the sprinklers often to water the grass or seed. It was heaven for little kids to be able to ride their bikes down the sidewalk and get wet and throw off their shirts and dash through the sprinklers whenever the opportunity presented itself. Chance wanted to follow the crowd as is expected. Since the hearing aids were so new, and Chance had not been hearing for the past 2 years, we were not at a point of communication where I could explain to that Chance he could not go through any water with out asking me. So, I just tracked him. If I heard the swoosh of sprinklers going on, I dashed to where the kids were and took off Chance's hearing aids and held them until he was done playing in the water.

Chance will have to be responsible for his implants. I will have to trust him. Chance does a good job, and I know that he would never purposely be careless with them. This is just one of those lessons that you don't want to have end up paying $12,000 to correct should something go wrong and the implants get damaged :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sweet nothings in my ear

CBS just aired a Hallmark movie tonight called "Sweet Nothing in My Ear", about a couple trying to decide if they should get their son a cochlear implant. In the movie, the little boy went deaf at age 4. Chance went deaf at about age 13 months but we didn't find out until he was almost three.
We were very excited to see the movie and see how they played the story out since the mom was against an implant and the father was for an implant. The situation in the movie is a little different from ours since the mother is deaf and so is her father.

I must say we thought the movie was well done and did a good job representing both sides of this issue. I think it is a great resource to help people understand the feelings of those in the Deaf community who may be against getting an implant and the feelings of those who want to let kids have the opportunity to hear.

I don't want to ruin the movie for those who have not seen it, but there is one part in the movie that really hit home for me and made me get teary. The main characters of the movie observe a little boy who is having his implant activated. (After the surgery you have to wait 2 to 4 weeks before the implant is actually turned on.) The father of the boy getting his implant activated calls out his name and, after some tweaking by the audiologist, the little boy responds to the sound.

It took me back to when we were trying to decide if we should get Chance an implant or not. The emotions you feel as a parent as you sift through all of the information and contemplate what you think will be best for your child is incredible. You realize that you are responsible for a decision that will have implications forever. We felt excitement, nervousness and an incredible weight of the decision that we were about to make. I felt for those parents in the movie and all of their questions and their search for what was right for their son.

Oh! The feelings we had were so intense as we contemplated what to do. We sat in the audiologists office, the video camera rolling and poised to take pictures when they turned the implant on for the first time. How would Chance react? What was normal to expect? We knew when Chance had heard something because his eyes went up, he sat up straighter in the chair and a surprised smile spread across his face. It was priceless.

After the movie, a local CBS station ran a story about Chance and our decision to get him an implant. The station did a really good job of representing Chance and capturing him and his personality. Of course, Chance was excited to see himself on the news. How often does that happen?

We actually had an occasion to return to the hospital where Chance got his implant surgeries last week. In the period of a year and a half we had been to the hospital for 5 surgeries. The two implant surgeries for Chance, an operation for his brother and 2 tube surgeries for Chance's baby brother. We KNOW how lovely the frozen yogurt is that is served in the cafeteria so we decided to have lunch there.

Chance was excited to be back. Chance calls it his hospital. During the course of our meal I asked him if he was glad that he got the implant surgeries and he responded with a resounding "Yes! Because now I can hear!"

I can't say it better myself. Chance can hear and we have no regrets about the decision to get him implants.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Chance is one buffed dude!

While visiting the Children's Museum a few days back, we discovered upon entering our van in the parking garage that the battery was dead due to the fact that an interior light had been left on. I think our van may have been able to cope with this dilemma, except that the very same thing had happened the night before.

So there we were not able to receive any cell phone coverage in the parking garage and the van having given up the ghost for the time being.

Earlier in the day, we had run into two families that we knew at the museum, so we hiked back into the museum to see if we could find some friends.

The main reason that we were leaving the museum was to get something to eat, so the kids were chowing on bananas and grapes at the entrance to the museum when one of the families we knew walked out. Happy day!

These people were neighbors of ours and when I asked her for a jump, she was gracious enough to say yes. She asked me if I had ever jumped a car before. I had not by myself and neither had she.

I dashed off to the van so I could study the owners manual and was glad to be reminded that if done wrong, jumping a battery can," cause serious injury to anyone in the vicinity."

Well, as long as there was no pressure to do things just right.

The van was locked in between two other cars whose owners may not come back for hours, and a cement wall. Obviously, the van needed to be moved so we could jump it. I had to steer. So, Chance, his brother and my neighbor pushed the van back up the slight incline and out into the main passage way. Now we were blocking traffic some, but we had to get enough room to get another car by the van to jump it. I was hoping that people cruising around the parking lot would notice that the van was stalled since it was at a weird angle and I was standing beside it, but no such luck. People kept trying to squeeze by even though there were several alternate rows to drive down.

Now during all of this, I am trying to keep my kids out of harm's way. I would give instructions to the kids about what I was doing and where their little bodies needed to be. I realized after all of our excitement that I had not had to focus on Chance so that he knew what was going on. When I told them all to get in the van, Chance got in the van with them. When I told the kids to stand over against the concrete wall, Chance went over and stood by them.

In the midst of our adventure, a car with two men pulled up and asked if we were o.k. I was feeling fairly confident with my ability to follow the instructions in the owners manual and not maim anybody, but why risk it? I asked these gentlemen if they had experience jumping a car and since they had, we let them lead the expedition. They were done in about 2 seconds and provided humor along the way. Thank you to the two nice gentlemen!!

It was comforting to have Chance be able to follow directions in such a situation and not have to be overly worried that Chance would be hurt because he did not know what was going on. I did have to look right at him a few times since there was noise from cars, people talking, echoes from doors slamming, idling cars and lots of extra activity swirling around us. I just wanted to make sure that Chance did hear what was going on. He does need to be focused on sometimes so that he hears what is said in such noisy situations as you would expect. But overall, I was amazed at what he could just hear on his own. My main concern did not have to be that Chance would be wounded while not knowing what was happening. Chance just rose to the occasion and used his muscles to push the van so it could the help that it needed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

People are saying bad things about him.....

Chance informed me today that people were talking bad about him.
"Who is talking bad about you?" I asked him.

Chance then informed me that his younger sister and her friend were whispering to each other and he had heard them talking bad about him. They were apparently planning on how to get him.

I tried to stifle a laugh. I thought it was delightful that he had heard them whispering.
Chance and his sister had been having a misunderstanding about which markers were Chance's markers, and which ones were community property. As sometimes happens in communications between siblings, the scenario went something like this:

Chance happens to pass by the kitchen table while his sister and her friend are coloring pictures of butterflies and instantly notices that out of the 45 markers on the table, 7 are his. They were all mixed in together.

Chance promptly grabs the pink marker his sister is coloring with. Chance's sister then realizes that now there is a pink line that is out of place on her butterfly wing. There ensues an argument about who is in the right.

Chance says that people have to ask first before they use his markers.

I explained that his markers were all mixed in with the other markers because I put them together not realizing that some were his.

He insisted that people still need to ask before they use his markers.

I told Chance it would be really nice if he would share his markers and let his sister finish using the pink one, but I left it up to him.

He took his markers off of the table and grudgingly tossed the pink marker back over to the girls. But it was clear he was not happy about it.

I then left the room to attend to Chance's brother which is where he found me. Looking hurt, he said that people were saying bad things about him.

When I asked who was saying bad things about him, he told me it was his sister and her friend. They were whispering about him and talking about things they could do to him. Like I said, I was delighted that he heard them whispering and amused that he was worried that the two little girls at the kitchen table were plotting ways for his demise. I told him that I would talk to his sister and no one would do anything to him.

I guess this episode proves the adage that there is an opposite to all things. This morning, Chance and his brother surprised their sister by doing her morning chore because she had been feeling left out of the brotherhood. They told her to go into her room and they would tell her when to come out. Then they proceeded to do her job and when she opened the door to her room, they told her that she could go play because her job was done.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A trip, a trip and a trip

Today the kids and I celebrated spring break by dropping by several of our favorite spots.
We started at the Children's Museum, then headed over to Primary Children's Hospital, and ended the day at the zoo. It was a great day. Better weather than we expected which is especially nice since we may get snow by the weekend.

As I watched the kids dashing around the museum, I had to keep my eyes peeled and be attentive, but oh how much nicer it was than 5 or 6 years ago! The museum was packed, but I could call to Chance when he was within a reasonable distance and he could hear me!!

Back before I realized that Chance was deaf, my outings with the boys (back when there was only them), seemed to be exhausting. Just getting ready to go anywhere seemed to take forever. And that was before we even left the house. Hindsight is always 20/20 as they say, but I realize now, what the deal was. Chance was deaf, I didn't know, and so he could not hear me. Chance was only 2 and 3, but even at that young age, kids can do some things when you are getting ready to go out on the town. They can come when you call, bring you their shoes, ask for help, carry their own coat, and you can give them simple commands such as, "pick up your coat please" , or "Let's go get in the car." Realizing that 2 and 3 year olds are unpredictable and don't always do what you say, they are still quite capable little people.

Chance didn't know what I was saying so he couldn't do any of those things I told him to do. His brother is only 2 years older than he is, so he wasn't entirely independent either. So getting ready to go somewhere, I would be gathering Chance's shoes up, he didn't hear me ask for them. I would have to make a real effort to make sure that I picked up his coat, I found his shoes, I led him to the car, I went over and started picking up the cars, I got his attention when we were going anywhere. I remember wondering at one point, why it seemed so tedious and time consuming to go to the store with the boys. I figured it was because I had two kids now instead of one. But now, after having two more children, lugging them to the store is not as hard as it was just taking the two boys. Chance did a superb job of hiding his deafness, but I think I compensated by having to guide him and watch him in a way that most 2 and 3 year olds don't have to be guided and watched. He heard absolutely nothing I said. So, in the store when I was telling him to stay by me, he would just bolt away unpredictably when he saw something interesting and I could not rely on him just doing what I said. Ever. I remember thinking at one point just before Chance was diagnosed as being deaf that most kids his age should be able to pick up the cars when you tell them to with out a parent coming to assist every time. In fact, I got stern with him and told him that it was time to pick up his cars. He must have been looking at me and wondering why I didn't look too happy. I felt really bad about that moment right after Chance was diagnosed. Here I was feeling like Chance was ignoring me when he could not hear me.

Even after he got the hearing aids, he could not hear well in a store or out in public at all. It was always hit and miss if he would hear and respond. Going out with the kids alone was a test in dexterity as I held the baby, tried to keep Chance close to me so he didn't get lost, and attempted to avoid putting too much pressure on my oldest son since if he took off and I had to chase him, I was not a happy camper.

My husband and I had to make a conscious effort not to expect too much of our oldest son to compensate for Chance not being able to hear us well in public. If our oldest son bolted, Chance would usually follow, and we could not call Chance back. We had to remind ourselves that even though Chance's brother had disobeyed us, he was not to blame for Chance following him.

Now, I can take all of the kids out in public and Chance can hear me and respond. It is true that he is older now as well, but today I was grateful anew that Chance can hear me and that he can feel confident in public. Chance feels free to explore more since he doesn't have to panic if he looks up and does not see me standing there. The best part of Chance being able to hear is Chance's confidence He can talk to other people. He can ask questions, he can respond to people around him, and I can give him directions like, 'Don't anybody leave the playhouse area without telling me," and all of my kids hear me. I watch Chance extra closely when we are out since he can not hear from as far away as the other kids, but I don't have to trail him and keep him chained to my side. He can hear me if he walks over to the bear cage and I need to call him back. I can call out to him and tell him that we are going the other way. He also doesn't feel as helpless as he once did when he did not know if other people would understand him when he talked to them. He can ask for help if he needs to.

Now, if there was just some kind of a way to make sure everyone listened to exactly what I said and obeyed each time........I could market and sell that.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The plus side of the emergency room

Chance was taken to the emergency room today. He shut his finger in a kitchen window. Most times when my children get gashes or cuts, I end up analyzing the wound to see if it may need stitches. Chance's wound was so, shall we say obviously gashed, there was no question that we needed the help of a professional. I could see more layers of skin etc. than I knew existed inside a finger.

By the time we got to the insta-care after hours clinic, Chance was in obvious pain. He told me he thought he was going to throw up and he was shaking. I asked for a blanket for Chance and we wrapped him up. Chance is not a wimpy kid. He has weathered two implant surgeries where his head was cut open and drilled into. He did not complain. Whenever Chance has gotten shots, the nurses gush about how brave he is and how most kids his age cry. I knew that if Chance was complaining about pain and flopping around on chairs, he must really be hurting, so I asked if he could have some pain killer.

The doctors at the after care facility were nervous about tendon damage and nerves since the cut was as deep as it was, so they sent us to the hospital where a doctor specializing in hand work would be.

We headed over to the hospital where the happy shots began to kick in. Chance began to sit upright and show interest in the fish in the waiting room.

The emergency doctor came in and introduced himself as Dr. Shelton. Then he said "I see you have seen the other doctor Shelton at the U of U. " The doctor Shelton at the U of U is the implant surgeon.

"Oh, you know him?" We asked.

"I know of him. Not many doctors do what he does. There is no relation, we just share the same name."

So, he knew what implants were and he TALKED TO CHANCE. He asked Chance what happened and explained to Chance as he went along what he was doing. He told Chance that he would be giving him 4 shots around the finger that shouldn't hurt too much but the last one would sting. Then he said, "OK?"

Chance got it apparently because at these words his head flopped over to the side and his eyes filled with tears. He was brave though and held my hand.

The doctor talked to Chance and told him what was going on as he did it. He did not speak to us as though Chance was not there.

Chance told Dr. Shelton he could see his bone inside his finger. The doctor explained that it was not a bone, but a tendon that Chance saw. Chance was amazed by this. I distracted Chance during some of the procedure, but Chance was also interested in watching. The doctor had to assess if their was tendon damage in which case Chance would be taken up to surgery to repair it.

Luckily, the tendons were in tact so the doctor stitched Chance up. Chance watched in fascination as the stitches were put in. He kept saying, "I can not feel that! I can not feel what he is doing!"

At the end, the doctor cut off some of the fat that was still hanging out and Chance, not showing any sense of repulsion or anything watched fascinated. "That is so weird! I can not feel my finger!" At one point Chance touched the top of his hurt finger to verify that he could not feel any sensation.

The doctor didn't have that much contact with implants, he told us when we asked him. He seemed to have an understanding though that Chance could hear with them. and was respectful of Chance talking to him and explaining things. The doctor asked how Chance was doing with the implants - if he seemed to have any delays. He said it was great that they were working so well for Chance. Chance mentioned to me as the procedure went on that he had seen x-rays on television. The doctor asked Chance if he wanted to see some real x-rays. Chance enthusiastically said yes. So the nurse showed us x-rays of feet, hands and spines when the stitching was done.

As the doctor wrapped up and got up to leave he turned and said to us,"You have a special little boy here."
We think so too. We had a special doctor tonight too that treated Chance like any other patient not seeing Chance's deafness as his main attribute, but seeing a little boy. Which is how Chance sees himself so it worked out well.

As for the window, we have told the kids not to open and close that window many times. I think Chance's wound may have said more about the dangers in playing with the window than we could convey through words:)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"You're lucky those implants work!"

Somewhere close by our home lives a sign language instructor who does not like cochlear implants. I know this because I keep running into the students of this teacher.

The students are all young high school or first year college students and they all seem amazed that Chance can actually hear with his implants. I have now run into these students, at the store, pharmacy and through other people that know me. This has happened about 5 times now.

The first part of our interactions are almost always the same. The students look at Chance, look at me and then ask me, "Are those implants he is wearing?" I of course verify that he does indeed have implants on.
The student usually then takes a good long look at Chance then they turn to me and ask, "Do they work? Can he really hear with them?"
They seem truly amazed that Chance can hear. I think they are taken aback because Chance is right there and I am talking to him, or he to me. The best scenerio is when Chance is just having a conversation with his brother while I am talking to these girls (they have all been girls).

I tell these girls that we have been very happy with the implants and that Chance is doing really well with them.

Then there is always a comment from the girls like, "You are lucky they work for him. Implants don't work for most people."
Or "Yeah, the implants only work for 50% of the people who get them." I even had one girl say after realizing that Chance could hear with his implant, "It must be better for kids. The implants really don't work for adults." We know many adults who have implants and love them. I politely told her that I know adults who have implants and they like them.

I am polite even though there are glaring untruths to what these girls know and they are quite inexperienced with deafness knowing only what they have been taught by a teacher who is obviously against implants.

Sigh.

By the time our converstation is over, these girls really look confused. They tend to just watch Chance with a confused look on their face. They have all been polite and a few have expressed excitement in realizing that the implants are working for Chance. They are amazed that Chance is attending a regular school and that he doesn't use sign language for his primary mode of communication. They are under the impression that the implant can not possibly give Chance enough hearing to interact daily without using a lot of sign language.

I don't mind that people have a different opinion than I do, of how deaf children should communicate, but it does bother me that there is such blatant untruth and misinformation being taught to people who know absolutely nothing about deafness except what they are learning in this sign language class. The information should at least be presented fairly and not distorted about implants.

It creates a bias for students who now go out into the world thinking that they have been educated in deafness when in fact they only know what their teacher has decided to tell them. And a lot is obvioulsy left out or twisted to fit what the teacher's opinion is about sign language and implants.

I leave these interactions with these girls, with it clear to me that Chance has given them something to think about. They have seen an implant in action and they can not deny that it is working. When I can, I bring Chance into the conversation. Like if they ask where Chance goes to school, I will say to Chance, "Chance, can you tell her what school you go to?" Or "Chance, she has never seen an implant, will you show her yours?" Chance then walks over and turns his head so that she can see his implant. And he obviously heard me ask him to come over:)

I don't want to give Chance a complex so I don't make him do anything that makes him uncomfortable. The fact is, he doesn't think of himself as deaf first and then a boy or a friend etc. He is just Chance - who happens to wear cochlear implants to help him hear.

I actually welcome questions about the implant. I would much rather someone just ask me what they are and talk about them and have them learn something about them, than just staring and wondering.

Chance is educating many people as he goes along. There is obviously a lot that people don't know about implants - even among those who think they do :)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Chance is having flashbacks..

It is kind of funny, but Chance seems to have flashbacks sometimes to when he was little before he could communicate as well as he does now.

He'll say something like,"Remember when we went to Disneyland and I saw Mary Poppins? Remember how big the penguins were?"

Or, "Remember when I got this dolphin?"

I do remember that particular trip quite well actually. Not only was it a fun family vacation full of wonder and magic there in Fantasy Land, but we got a real dose of having a deaf child there in Disneyland.

As luck would have it, the morning of the day we left on vacation, Chance's doctor diagnosed him with ear infections and told us that Chance should not wear his hearing aids. The day before our vacation. We were still relatively new to the whole deaf thing too and Chance was not able to communicate a whole lot with anyone either.

My husband and I spent wonder filled days with our kids. We also were in code red aloof the time. We were constantly looking around to make sure that Chance was right by us and had a system going where one of us would track the other 2 kids while one of us tracked Chance. Chance would see something exciting and dash off. He could not hear us and unless he turned to look back at us (as if), we could not talk to him and call him back.

Strangely enough though, Chance was the most daring out of our kids when it came to the big rides. We had no idea how to sign roller coaster or explain in detail about Splash Mountain and how he would be sliding down a steep hill being splashed with water, and by the way how did he feel about that. He loved all of the roller coaster rides and wanted to go on them several times.

We had one horrifying moment in Sea World when Chance got lost. Chance had been running around in a circle from the climbing ropes to the tunnel to the slide with his brother. They had been going strong for about 20 minutes when suddenly, Chance's brother appeared and Chance did not.

At first, we just looked around figuring that he was getting tired and was going slower etc. But then, it got to be long enough that I felt a sick feeling in my stomach. My deaf child was out of sight, and out of range to hear. We could not have him paged, he would not hear it. If he did find an adult, he could not talk to them or tell him who his parents were. He would not even be able to tell them his name. It was truly one of the most horrifying moments of my life as I tried to figure out how we could locate Chance and how he could get help if he was found by a park employee.(that was the optimistic scenario...that he would be found by a nice, decent person and not someone who would do him harm and take advantage of his plight).

We sent up prayers that only a parent whose child is in distress can send up. I climbed all over the play area looking in every cranny and tunnel while my husband canvased the ground.
As if an angel had been sent to help us, a woman found a park employee in a little kiosk across from the play area trying to talk to Chance. He looked scared and could not answer her. The woman said, "Maybe he is deaf. My friend has a deaf child." I know that woman was sent to the right place at the right time for Chance and for his parents who were trying not to have a heart attack. The woman suggested that she walk with Chance over to the play area and see if any parent came up and recognized him. They gave him a stuffed dolphin to help him feel better.
There are few people that we have ever been more happy to see than that woman who walked over with Chance to the play area.

So yes, Chance we remember when you got that dolphin. Quite vividly.

We have come a long way since those early days after diagnosis. Chance has gotten older, can tell people his name, knows our names and he can hear us when we call. Maybe from not as far away as his brother can hear us, but he can hear us.