Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chance Netherlands Presentation

video

Chance was invited back to his alma mater (the School for the Deaf class he no longer attends), to give a presentation on Christmas in the Netherlands. Chance was excited about this prospect, and what was going to be a taking-turns presentation with mom, turned into a one man show with Chance doing all the talking(with a special story by his brother about a boy sticking his finger in the hole of a dike to hold back the water). As soon as Chance and I started going over the power point presentation at home, Chance informed me that he wanted to do it himself. I thought that was fabulous!

Since I was the one with the knowledge about what Christmas in the Netherlands is like, I went through and told Chance about each picture. Chance then sat down at the computer by himself writing down notes on index cards for each picture about what he wanted to say. He numbered the tops of the cards so that he would know the order they should go in. What an organized kid!
When Chance first went through the presentation for me, he would sometimes use a funny voice as he talked.

The irony was not lost on me that I had to explain that some of the kids in the class would not be able to understand him if he talked like that since they wore hearing aids and implants and may have a hard time hearing him.

Chance was excited to see his friends again and after a little catching up (kids sharing that they got new glasses, or a bilateral implant etc.), Chance did a stellar job telling the kids about the Netherlands and how they celebrate Christmas.

Luckily, there is a Dutch store within driving distance of our house, so we were able to pick up a few Dutch treats to share. SinterKlaas (the Dutch version of Santa Clause), leaves chocolate letters in the shoes of good boys and girls in the shape of the first letter of their names. For the School for the Deaf kids, we brought chocolate "K's" to share for "kids". We also brought chocolate sprinkles, bread and butter so the kids could try the snack of bread with sprinkles on it to get a feel for Dutch eats.

It was a great presentation that Chance did a great job with. There was both learning and tummy filling.....a perfect combination!

(A sad note about the video - the tape ran out about 2 minutes before the end of the presentation - missing the end of the "Christmas" part of the presentation. But we're certain you'll appreciate the video just the same.)

Chance Participates in Choir Concert

Chance participated in our local mainstream school's Christmas concert. He was so excited about learning the songs, and I caught him constantly singing around the house. He and his brother got to perform at the mall and in front of the school.

I was very impressed with how Chance learned the songs and as I watched, Chance really seemed to know the words to the songs.

He also got to get his groove on during the"Hip Hop Reindeer", song:)

Chance is the boy on the very end next to the girl with a side ponytail.


video

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

It is a miracle

I was over at a neighbors house tonight and she said to me, "How great is Chance doing?! When he stood up to talk in the program, he talked so well! My husband and I turned to each other and just said, "Wow!'

I told her that it was great to hear since we think he sounds great, but it is nice to hear that other people think so as well.

"Don't you think he's doing great?" She asked

"Oh, yes." I assured her that we were very happy with Chance's speech.

"He doesn't even have a, a, a........." She stammered.

"A deaf accent?" I asked.

"Yeah. I didn't know what it was called. I mean, it would be o.k. if he had one, there is nothing wrong with that, but you can't even tell he is deaf when he talks."

I was of course delighted to hear what she thought about Chance's progress.

This is a neighbor who helped put together many a church program with me through the years. She has seen the progress Chance has made.

"It's a miracle." She said.

I must agree.

meeenee

If has been quite entertaining the past few days to hear Chance say the word "meenee." What he thinks he is saying is "mini" he is just using the wrong vowel sound. He got upset at his sister yesterday and in a very stern voice said,"You have my meenee pencil! Give it back!"

It is moments like this where I have to take a moment and realize that correcting pronunciation while Chance is telling someone off is not going to be as effective as waiting for a less heated moment.

Timing is everything. So, Chance used the word "meenee" several times while telling his sister that she needed to give his pencil back, and then again while explaining that he got the "meenee" pencil from school and yet again when he held up the pencil for all his siblings to see and announced that the "meenee" pencil was his.

After the moment had passed, I told Chance, "By the way, the word is mini, not meenee." Chance just looked at me like he was taking a note in his head and then turned back to his school work.

So, we'll see if the word "meenee" comes up again.

Chance's interest in the blog

Tonight as I was looking at the blog, (sorry for the errors I found by the way:), Chance came up and started reading over my shoulder. Even though he has been living the events choronicled in the blog, he became fascinated by the little summary on the side that tells his story. When I started to scroll down, Chance piped up with,"STOP! I am reading that!" So I paused as Chance read a summary of his life with implants.

When he was done reading Chance said, "Soooooooo, it has been 3 years and 3 months," he said nodding his head.

"So how have you liked it?" I asked.

Chance started nodding his head"Goooooooooood!"

What a beautiful moment! After agonizing 4 years ago whether an implant would be right for Chance and wondering if he would feel it was worth it," goooooooooooood!" is nice to hear:)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What is a hoe?

What did people do before the internet? While reading a poem in school that Chance is starting to memorize, we came to the word hoe. It is more difficult to memorize a word that you don't know the meaning for.

I tried to explain what a hoe was but Chance just looked at me with a funny look on his face that told me he had no idea what I was talking about.

We don't own a hoe at the moment so showing him one in the garage was out, and this is not exactly a good season to be searching for hoes.

I took Chance over to the computer and we looked up farm tools. Sure enough, there was a hoe.
"OHHHHHH!" Chance said as he looked at the picture.

Add another word to Chance's vocabulary. You learn something new each day:)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ordering in a crowded resturant

We have a tradition of sorts of stopping at the same little restaurant after riding on the North Pole Express. It is one of the few times that we go out to eat as a family and the kids really look forward to it. There is a train that circles overhead, through tunnels and in and out of rooms. It seems fitting to eat at a train restaurant after a train ride.

This year after we were all seated, the kids realized that they had more chicken strips than they had honey. Since the honey had simply come with our order, this meant that someone would need to go to the very crowded and noisy counter to ask for more. We were not the only ones with the idea to visit this little restaurant after the train ride and the counter was packed with people making orders.

I thought this would be a good time for Chance to practice getting what he needs. I casually asked him to go ask at the counter for more honey. He looked over at the counter and readily agreed. I was going to watch to ensure that he heard what said when he asked for more, but Chance soon disappeared into the crowd. I was getting ready to get up and stand in the background to make sure that the noise was not overwhelming for Chance, but before I could get up, Chance was back at our table with more honey.

"Were they nice when you asked them for more honey?" I asked.

"Yes. She just went back and got some more." Chance replied.

Good. Chance was able ask for what he needed, to a stranger, in a loud and crowded place with out getting overwhelmed. This is a good thing.

Chance picks out the melody for Silent Night

This morning we were watching a musical program where an orchestra and choir performed both traditional and non traditional Christmas songs.

Silent Night was one of the songs performed but it was embellished with harps and other instruments from the orchestra. The melody kind of wound around with various instruments chiming in. Chance turned to me and said," They are playing Silent Night". It was impressive that he could pick out the melody as it wasn't the traditional version that he was used to.

Chance has been coming to me more and more to sing little snippets of songs that he has learned or to ask me about the wordings in other songs.

I am getting excited as Chance seems to be hearing more minor differences in music. Whenever I have asked about music and implants, whether it be professionals who work with implants, implant company reps or adults with implants, the responses all vary about what the musical capabilities are with implants.

I can understand that there is no exact answer, but it has all been so vague and varied that I really haven't had a base to work from in regards to what the expectations can be with regard to music when you have a child with implants.

Chance is highly motivated to learn songs, and he has an interest in music which I am very grateful for. One of Chance's interests is music and I believe that he will be able to do what ever he wants whether it be to excel at an instrument or choir. His confidence is strong and I am hoping that by immersing him in music, both by having lots of music at home, and lessons of various sorts, that Chance will be able to develop whatever talents in music that he has.

I was reading through several pages of our family history and realized that musical ability is quite common among many of my relatives. Chance may very well have inherited some of this musical talent. Chance's deafness need not inhibit him from developing whatever abilities he may have been born with. Chance may have to work harder at music or study harder at mastering it, but I know that he will be able to do whatever he puts his mind to.

We seem to have come full circle. I love to have music playing in the house, and when Chance was first diagnosed as being deaf, we all had to consciously eliminate background noises such as music because it made hearing so difficult for Chance. He could not understand speech over the sound of music playing in the background, he needed a more quiet environment to hear conversations at the breakfast table etc. I remember several mornings walking over to turn music on, then stopping and deciding that I would turn the music on once Chance had left for school so that it would not interfere with his ability to hear.

Now, music playing in the background in the morning, is enjoyable to Chance. If it is too loud, he can tell us. Most of the time though, Chance enjoys having music playing and will put CDs in himself sometimes.

We are in an exciting place where worrying about the basics of hearing have given way to discovering what Chance's little ears(with a little help) can do!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Chance leads the singing

It is that time of year again when The North Pole Express makes its way to the land that Santa calls home. This year included all of the usual things one would expect on the North Pole Express, hot chocolate, cookies made by Mrs. Claus, elves telling jokes, a visit from Mrs. Claus and Santa and a bell to take home.

This year they told us that the bigger an elf was, the younger they actually were because elves shrink as they age. This prompted Chance to ask how elves had babies if the moms were really short and the babies were really tall. Good question. Makes me kind of glad that I got to have baby humans instead of baby elves.

And there was the singing of Christmas carols. One particular carol was led by none other than Chance! Kids had the opportunity to come up and lead all of us on the train car in a carol. During "Away in a Manger", the storyteller handed the microphone to Chance and he led us in song.

Chance is not as familiar with this song, but he had a program with the words on it. It took him a bit to get the tune of the song, but he did a great job and we all just followed his lead. He sat down with a shy little smile when he was done. I think he was proud of his singing. We were too!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chance is no soloist...at least not yet

Well, Chance did not get a solo part. He does not seem that concerned about it though which is good. I am just excited that he had the confidence to try out. Chance loves to sing and he is getting better and better at holding a tune and learning all of the words to songs.

For now, Chance has to really work at learning a tune and it takes him longer to learn the words to a song than it does other kids who are learning the same song. But Chance's abilities continue to grow and I have noticed more inflection in his voice when he sings.

I want him to sing and go just as far as he can with music. I think he can do it. This will be yet another path on our journey through deafness......the singing path. Chance is motivated and he puts in a lot of effort so I thing the possibility for greatness is there!

Chance knows the word endzone

Chance just passed me, a BYU football helmet on his head and a football cradled in his arms. He was swatting at imaginary rivals as he made his way across the room . All in slow motion. Once he made it to the kitchen, he dramatically fell to the ground, football still clutched in his arms and a look of victory on his face.

"Did you make a touchdown?" I asked.

"I made it to into the endzone!" Chance informed me his face alight with victory.

There was a time when could not imagine that Chance would know the word endzone. He didn't know the word for railing, or counter top or fridge. We were just trying to teach him basic words like chair, bed, and shoe. Who could think about endzone?

I count everyday as a miracle that Chance can hear, and marvel at how his vocabulary has grown and continues to grow.

When Chance started preschool at the School for the Deaf he had command of 10 words that could be understood by others. At age 3.

Now look where we are!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chance tries out for a solo part

Chance is in the choir at school and has been singing the songs they are learning on a regular basis around the house. In December, the kids will put on a Christmas program that they have been practicing for. I am glad that Chance enjoys singing. He seems to be picking up on the lyrics of songs a little faster as well.

I knew that Chance's brother was planning on trying out for a solo part in Christmas program. I have heard him quietly singing as he does his chores, and walks around the house. When the boys got home from choir practice the other day, and I asked how the solo try out went, I was told "good." Then Chance's brother said,"Chance tried out for a solo part too."

This was unexpected. I had not heard Chance practicing around the house or mention that he wanted to sing a solo.

Chance said it went good when I asked him. He said that he wanted to sing a solo part too. Chance's brother said that the teacher looked like she was happy that Chance wanted to try out.
I would have loved to see how this audition went. I wonder what Chance sang? I am glad that he had the confidence to feel that he could do a solo. People who are not deaf become faint of heart when they think of singing a solo. Chance had not been practicing any particular song as far as I could tell. He does know and love "God Bless America', so maybe he sang that to try out.
We won't know until next week which kids are singing the solos.

p.s. I just found out that Chance sang the song that his brother has been practicing all week for his solo try out. I'll be honest, when he sang it for us it was not always in tune, but it is obvious that he is getting better at keeping the tune of a song:) Chance did a good job with his singing and seemed to know the words to the song so, we'll see what the chorus teacher says........

"That is a strange voice for a woman"

I was watching a cooking show today that featured a woman giving tips on how to cook Italian dishes. Chance walked past the television, stopped,and turned back to stared at the T.V.

He turned to me with a skeptical look on his face and said," That is a strange voice for a woman!"
Then he turned and continued walking across the room.

As I payed closer attention to the woman's voice, I realized that she did have a rather husky voice that was deeper than most female voices tend to be.

I am glad that Chance could hear a tone difference in the television voice. Especially since he wasn't paying attention and was just walking by the T.V.

I have heard from adult cochlear implant users that telling the difference between male and female voices on the phone is sometimes difficult. I wonder if it is the same with television voices? Television of course gives you a big visual clue as to whether a male or female is talking:)
Chance being able to tell that the womans voice was unusually husky is impressive though.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

$7,975.00

Per ear. $7,975.00 to upgrade to the newer implant that has just come out. $15,950.00 to get two. I have heard of Hollywood stars insuring their body parts. I think Chance's ears are worth more than any of the rest of the family's parts for sure.
Wow. That is a lot of cash. We would get some trade in value when we traded his current implants in. (That just sounds funny, trading in your implants like you do a car. Although they cost about as much:) There is apparently a group discount as well if implant center orders in bulk. Anyone want to go in on a group order?
The plus side is, the FM system will be cheaper by about half since you don't have to buy boots to hook onto each implant. So we would save money there, but it wills still cost money to buy the FM System as well. Isn't this the way it works out sometimes? You will save money, yet you have to spend money first? Chance will eventually need an FM System. It seems to make sense now to wait until we can upgrade the implants. At $15,950.00 it may be a while. Unless Chance's dad has money he has been holding out on telling me about. Or someone with lots of extra money decided to make a spontaneous donation to our implant cause.
Honestly, Chance will be fine with his current implants for a while. Yes, studies show that the newer ones facilitate a boost in hearing by up 10 decibels. While that is quite a bit when you are talking about being able to hear better, Chance is doing really well with his current implants. Eventually, there will be a way for us to get for Chance what he really needs when he really needs it. We have been blessed in this journey of deafness to have that.
And make no mistake about it - Chance's hearing is worth every penny that we've spent so far, and the $9 a day ongoing cost to allow him to hear.
The bigger issue is, we won't want to buy an FM system for his current implants at $4,000.00 when the system will be half that with the newer models. And they probably aren't compatible. One will not work for both implants.
Well, it is good to know that someone in the family has body parts worth $15,950.00 in cash:)
Yesterday was another conference by the Alexander Graham Bell Association - Utah Chapter. I love these conferences as I get so much out of them and come home with ways to help Chance.
The work that goes into these conferences is amazing and it is very professional and well planned out. The planning committee works months to get this conference planned and implemented.
The keynote speaker was a woman who has worked with families with kids who are deaf or have hearing loss for years. She was from Ireland and the fact that she had an accent just made it that much more pleasant for me. I love accents:)
It is so nice to be with other parents and professionals who are working with the kids like Chance around the state. After all of these years of being involved with issues related to Chance's deafness, it is like being with friends.
One of the sessions this year was about how to navigate hearing loss and college. A representative from a local university talked about the services her school offered for those who are hard of hearing. This university offers many different youth camps and we did not realize the accommodations they made for those who needed them due to hearing loss. This is good information to have. Part of the path you travel while having a child who is deaf or hard of hearing is figuring out what services are available. If Chance is going to be in a big group in an auditorium, he will need to sit where he had better access to hearing what is being said. It is nice to know that if we attend local events at this college, this can be accommodated.
Many of Chance's old teachers, therapists and others who we have worked with attended the conference and they all asked about him. Chance has really touched some of the people he has worked with. I think after working with these kids who are deaf and seeing how amazing they are, those who work with them are touched.
I am so appreciative for all of these people who have helped Chance through the years as we have traveled down this path of deafness. There are some amazing dedicated people who have helped to give Chance what he has needed through the years. I am very thankful and grateful for them. Not only for their services, but for the care they have given to Chance. It does my heart good to know how many people care about Chance and have worked to help him succeed.
Here is to another AG Bell conference! Too bad we have to wait another year to attend:)
(although the planning committee does deserve a break from the conference for a while)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Angels We Have Heard On High

We have started singing Christmas songs so that the kids, especially Chance, will know the words by Christmas.
We just started at the beginning of the Christmas songs in the book and went from there. The first song happened to be,"Angels We Have Heard On High." The kids really got into the drawn out G-L-O-R-I-A part.
Chance and I were sharing a book and as we sang the song a second time, I noticed that Chance's G-L-O-R-I-A'S were quite monotone. There was no going up and down inflection happening on Chance's side of the chair. So for our third time through the song, I showed him how the notes went up and then down as you sang G-L-O-R-I-A. Then I demonstrated how this was done. Chance looked at me quite intently, and then we started singing the song again. When we got to the G-L-O-R-I-A part, Chance looked at me and added more inflection, but not quite how the song goes. I don't think he is picking up on the subtle differences in tones. He made his voice go up and down because I told him that is the way the song goes, not necessarily because he was hearing the inflection. How intriguing. We'll have to keep working on this song and see if he seems pick up the subtleties as we go along. I do wonder how Chance hears music through the implants.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The story of an implant in a game of tackle football

Saturday was a beautiful day to be outside. It was also a great day to be playing football. Chance, his brother and some friends had taken their customary spot over at the end of the cul-de-sac and were intently involved in a game. During a particular play, Chance collided with another player. Chance's implant, met another boys mouth. And then there was a projectile. All of the boys thought it was a tooth coming out of the other boys mouth since his mouth was bleeding. Turns out it was the battery pack of Chance's implant. The implant just separated and part of it landed on the grass. When I asked Chance if he was hurt, he told me that, "He cried for like 3 seconds. It hurt the part where the implant is inside of my head." We did not know that Chance had been hit, and he just resumed the game with the other boys.
The boy who go hit in the mouth jarred a tooth loose, though it did not fall out. Luckily, it is a baby tooth. His mom ended up coming to get him so he could recover for a minute at home. That night, he was back playing football again so the damage must have been minimal.
The implant however will need some assistance. It has a little dent and does not attach to the battery pack as tight as it should now. We will be ordering a new processor due to the impact.
I didn't even have to say anything to Chance about tackle football. After he told me what had happened, he said that he and the boy who got hit in the mouth decided that they did not want to play tackle football anymore. I agree. Chance came to the conclusion by himself with out my giving any mommy lectures so that is also a plus.
I think touch football is just fine.

Two implants in a gym are better than one...

We had our closing social for our Japanese exchange student. It is kind of a last hooray for the families and their students. Dinner is served and there is a program which includes performances by some of the boys. This year we went by ourselves to the dinner as our student had gotten sick and was transferred to a local hotel where nurses and other personnel could look after him. Our student lasted until the last afternoon of his stay to get ill though so we are grateful.
It was a bit lonely being at our table without our student, but it was fun to watch the other boys perform. A dance group from a local college also performed and got us all off of our feet and moving. The only bad part of the evening came when Chance started complaining that one of his implants was not working well. You would think that it would be o.k. to listen for one program without one of the implants, but Chance did not think so. As luck would have it, the implant that was working was on the ear facing away from where the performers were. To make matters worse, the sound bouncing all over the room was not conducive to being easily heard. Some people were quite clear and easy to understand, while some were not.
Chance did not like hearing with only one ear at all. He kept asking us what was said, and finally he turned to me in exasperation and said,"It is so hard for me to hear what they are saying!" So we transferred the processors from the ear facing away from the program so his hearing ear was now facing the speakers. This helped him enough so that he was not just exasperated, but Chance still did not like only hearing with one ear. Chance ended up moving down on the floor where he seemed to enjoy the program more, but he had many more questions about what was going on then he does when he has both implants on.
I think this two ear thing really is the best scenario for Chance to hear. He is accustomed to hearing with two ears just like the rest of us and does not appreciate it when he is forced to hear with only one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our exhange student

Once again, we have a Japanese exchange student staying at our house. It is a great experience and the kids just adopt him as a brother while he is here. The younger kids want him to watch all of their amazing tricks and the older ones want to show him all the activities that they find cool.

Our Japanese student is in the process of learning English and has an accent. I say this not to complain, but as one who has learned another language and lived in another country for a while. I find accents charming. The best thing about this year, is how well Chance can hear and understand in spite of the accent. Chance is part of the conversations and does not seem to be phased by the fact that our student has an accent. It is delightful that Chance is hearing so well.
Chance has helped to guide our student on a hike, attended a hockey game with him and taught him how to play the game "Rummikub".

Chance is patient and does not seem to get agitated when he and the student do not understand one another. Chance just tries again or uses different words or phrases. Chance would have an understanding about what it is like to struggle with hearing and being understood. Maybe Chance being deaf will give him a special understanding for people who struggle with language for what ever reason as he goes through life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chance as a son, but not a sibling

I love having Chance as a son. He is sweet, caring and fun. Chance is also a great brother, though he did something the other day that drove his brother a little nuts. I heard the boys having a disagreement about some game they were playing but then the talking stopped. A few minutes later, I asked Chance a question and his brother sighed and said,"He can't hear you."

"Why are his implants off?" I asked.

"No, we were having an argument about the game we were playing and Chance just took off his magnets so that he couldn't hear me. And he won't look at me either."

Sure enough, when I looked at Chance, his magnets were dangling off his head with the second part of the implant resting on his ears. And his eyes were closed.

I could see how this would be annoying to be in an argument with a brother who could flip off his hearing at will.

I couldn't help but think what an awesome trick this was to have in your arsenal. I would have LOVED to be able to signify to my siblings that the argument was now over because I was no longer hearing them:)

Chance's brother and I looked at each other realizing that neither of us would be heard at the moment and we started to laugh.

"Who else's brother can do that?" I asked as we watched Chance walk down the hall the magnets swinging at the side of his head."

"Only mine." His brother said smiling.

A sense of humor is a good thing to have when your brother has the ability to completely block you out.

Cookie cutters...who knew?

I have been organizing our pantry so I thought I should tell the kids where some of the things they use are now and how we all need to put them back when we are done.

I was telling the kids how the cookie cutters were in a box with a lid now and that when they were done using them with their play-doh, they needed to put them back.

Chance turned to look at me, his face confused."Cookie cutters?"

"The things we use to make shapes in cookie dough or play-doh," I explained.

"They are called cookie cutters?" Chance asked surprised.

"Yes, cookie cutters." I explained. No one makes me think of the wonder of our language and how we learn words more than Chance.

Chance's dad brought up to me when we were alone later that cookie cutters is a word that we only use about 3 times a year. It is a good word for Chance to be acquainted with.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall and football

There is a crisp edge in the air and leaves can be found dancing in the wind across the sidewalk. For Chance and his brother this means that it is perfect football weather. The boys in the neighborhood gather at the end of the cul de sac and the game is on. There always seems to be someone willing to play football and Chance has been playing almost every day for weeks now. He loves it.

When playing football first came up with Chance, I admit to being apprehensive. CHANCE HAS HARDWARE IMPLANTED IN HIS HEAD, AFTER ALL! I kind of hoped football would be a passing fad among Chance's friends. But it hasn't been and I'm kind of glad. I have watched Chance out there with all of the boys chasing after the ball and arguing on whether the runner was out of bounds when he made the touchdown. (As near as I can tell, the boundary on one side is a flower bed) Chance's face glows as his cheeks flush with exertion and the wind ruffles his hair.

Luckily, the boys don't play tackle football all that often. They discovered that there were too many injuries. So they play two hand touch instead. That means that instead of tackling, you touch a player with both hands.

As an added bonus, Chance's implants hardly ever fall off while he is playing. This is a nice development since when Chance first got the implants, they would fall off when he played sports. We got snugglie things and headbands to hold them on for such moments. But Chance does not wear any of these things when he plays football out with the boys. I figure maybe his ears have grown big enough to help hold the implants on better. If Chance is playing more competitively like on his soccer league, he uses a headband to help keep the implants on. For now, there is no need for a snuggley when he plays football...it is just Chance, his implants and the wide open spaces to play.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gramdma is amazed at what Chance can hear

The kids and I went on an impromptu outing with grandma and grandpa to feed the ducks a few days ago. The weather was great and grandpa had lots of extra bread so it was a perfect mix.
There were hoards of ducks and the longer we stayed, the more ducks appeared. It was kind of along the lines of "if you build it they will come". As we fed them, they came with all of their relatives, friends and neighbors. A great feeding frenzy is just the atmosphere that makes feeding ducks perfect. No matter how many kids are present there are enough ducks for everyone to feel appreciated as they throw crumbs of bread.

Chance ran with his siblings and cousins along the edge of the little pond gigging and tossing bread. Down at the far end of the pond, there was a big willow tree and Chance and a few of the other kids made their way down to the tree to check things out. When it was time to go Chance's grandmother called out to the kids by name.

I admit that in my mind, I thought,"there is no way that Chance heard that." My thought was that when Chance's older brother started walking toward us, I would tell him to tell Chance that it was time to go.

Then, lo and behold, who should be the first and ONLY child to turn around, look at us and start walking towards us? CHANCE! I was amazed and impressed. I never even would have attempted to call Chance from that long of a distance.

Chance's grandmother turned to me visibly amazed as well and said,"HE HEARD ME! HOW GREAT IS THAT?"

That is great indeed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Implants on T.V.

Just as a fluke, while flipping through the channels today, I came upon an educational station talking about cochlear implants. There were both implanted people and those in the Deaf community that gave their perspective on the implants. I was impressed with how impartial the program was. I did not feel that it took sides, but rather talked about different people and their personal choices on whether or not to get an implant.

The one thing that bothered me was when a woman in the Deaf community said that if she could she would like to tell parents of deaf kids to wait before getting the cochlear implant and to investigate all of the options. I actually agreed with her on that point. Parents should investigate what is available. The woman then said"Parents should wait and think about the options before getting an implant for their child they should not just get one before thinking things through." What bothered me about this comment is that I have heard it many times before and the implication is that we as parents just decide to get an implant for our children on a whim.

Deciding to get an implant for Chance was one of the most difficult decisions we have made. We studied and thought, and prayed for guidance. Every other parent I have talked to whose child has an implant went through a similar process. There was no instant decisions or rash surgeries. It is a myth that parents are jumping into getting an implant for their child without due diligence. At least the parents that I know who have implanted kids.

That aside, I have a lot of respect for the people in the Deaf community who they interviewed. I did not sense any hostility or anger at parents who get an implant for their children. They talked about why they personally decided not to get an implant and I respect that.

Chance thought the show was interesting though he only watched for a few minutes. During one of the signing segments, Chance informed me that in school last year he and his deaf peers would sign to each other if, as he put it,"it was a secret."

Kind of nice to have that option in school I would think. Your own "secret" language that you can share with your good friends when you don't want everyone to know what you are saying. Quiet too so the teacher doesn't suspect anything:)

Chance joins the choir

Chance has joined the choir with his brother at the local school. He is really liking it. I am glad as I feel that exposure to music and singing is very good for Chance. He typically takes a little longer to learn the songs than other kids do, so I have requested that the teacher send the music home so that we can work on the songs . She said one song won't be a problem but she has to check into copyrighting issues with the other songs. I can understand that, but hope it works out that we can have the music so that Chance can learn the songs as well as his peers.
The teacher said that she is glad to have the boys in her class and that they are good kids. That is always nice to hear as a mother:)
Chance is getting at least one of the songs as he walks around the house singing a song about reindeer feet. I can see a Christmas concert in our near future.
Chance is also taking piano lessons and is excited to be back into learning to play. Chance told me he wants to learn to play every kind of instrument. Quite an ambitious goal but hey, I want Chance immersed in music as much as possible.
Chance has let us know that after he has taken piano lessons for a while, he wants to take guitar lessons.
Let the music lessons role!

Friday, October 02, 2009

The pull of the implants...

Hee hee hee. The games have begun again as a new baby in our home is fascinated by Chance's implants. They hold such an allure. They are rare, since not all people have them, they are right in your face when Chance leans in for a kiss, and they blink red. What is not to love?!

Chance takes this with his usual good humor. He adores his baby sister and she loves him too. The implants are just another reason to love Chance :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Chance does the Grand Canyon

Chance hiked down to Havasupai Falls at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with his dad, brother, uncle and 3 cousins. He loved it.

The trip required lots of preparation as the guys had to pack in all of their food, bedding, clothes, lighting(it gets dark at about 6:00 p.m), and M&M's. There are no campfires allowed so the boys had to plan for their cooking needs as well.

Once we got home, I received a postcard that the boys had sent to me from the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Chance wrote,"Mom, I'm having fun. We hiked into the city. I didn't die so far. The canyon is cool. We saw a wall of rocks. Chance"

It was nice to be reminded once at home that Chance did not die on the journey. The 7 hour hike to get to the actual camp ground must have made Chance wonder if he would be able to go on :)
The kids spent much of their days swimming in pools of water or jumping through waterfalls. This of course meant that Chance did not have his implants on during those times. He apparently wore the implants right up until the time he got into the water. Chance's dad said that he got hoarse calling out to the kids over the roar of the waterfalls (imagine the sound of 450 gallons per second hitting a pool of water after a 100 or 200 foot drop). Chance must have just blissfully floated along, enjoying the scenery not hearing any calling or distractions (although he does say that he could hear the waterfall - as a whisper of course - without his implants on). Chance swam well so the extra swimming lessons this summer apparently payed off.

Chance had a marvelous time and made memories that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Walkie Talkies

Chance entered the living room engrossed in a conversation he was having with himself....at least that is what I thought when he first walked in. His head was pinched to one side and then I heard another voice coming from right where Chance was standing.

Chance had a walkie talkie and was communicating with a friend that was somewhere outside of the house. This intrigued me as I was curious as to how well Chance was hearing through a walkie talkie. My experience with walkie talkies has been one of strained hearing and muffled voices. At least if you are using the kid ones and the person is more than about 10 feet away.
I soon realized though, that Chance was hearing what was being said. He was making plans about where to meet his friend after he got a snack to share.

Wow. I never thought my little deaf son would be doing the oh so typical boy activity of talking on a walkie talkie! It was good see Chance just talking about boy things and making plans with his friends. It was even better to realize that Chance was hearing what was being said on his end of the walkie talkie.

I really like Chance's implants.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chance needs quiet!

Chance loves math. This is the boy who would divide his M&M candies into colored piles before he would eat them when he was just tiny. This is the same boy who had a healthy competition going with a girl in his class as they competed to have the most 100 charts filled out in school.

Chance loves math and it is serious business when he is working out a math problem. Today as he sat at the table with his siblings doing math, he kept getting frustrated when anyone would make any noise as he figured out sums in his head.

"I HATE having to count over!" He bristled after someone had made noises.

Chance's siblings were actually not that loud. They were doing math themselves, but if they scrapped their chair on the floor, or made a comment to me, Chance would raise his head in frustration and say,"Shhhhhhhh!"

The math Chance is working on is adding large sums in his head and he is enjoying it, but he apparently wants complete peace and quiet while he is working:)

After a few minutes of Chance getting frustrated every time anyone made any noise, I unceremoniously took his implants off of his head and lay them on the table.

Chance looked confused for a moment and then he smiled, laughed and contentedly went back to his figuring.

"I wish I could do that." Chance's brother said looking enviously at Chance who was now totally engrossed in his math with out any distractions.

"Me too." Chance's sister chimed in.

I must add that I too wish that sometimes I could just shut the world off when the world got a little too loud or annoying.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Scary stories

Chance has entered that childhood milestone of being part of groups of kids as they tell each other ghost stories. The thing about these stories is, they always scare the wits out of the kids it's just that the kids are all too proud to say so.

This summer through a sleepover at grandmas with cousins and late nighters due to summer break, Chance has been introduced to the phenomenon of ghost stories. The set up is almost always the same.....a group of kids sitting around trying to tell the story that will scare the others(all the while giving themselves a good scare in the process).

It appears that Chance is hearing the details of these stories just fine. He asked me while we were at his grandparents house if I thought someone was going to try to kill them while they slept. Apparently, the stories were a little too grizzley so the next time the kids were telling ghost stories Chance's dad sat close to the hut reading so that he could hear exactly what stories were being told.

Not only can Chance hear what is going on around him, he is getting the details of stories that other kids tell him as well. Now, if we can just get on another theme besides death and carnage.....

Friday, August 07, 2009

Chance is on the map

Chance had his implants mapped this week. This has become a family affair as Chance's audiologist moved about 2 and a half hours from our house and since we would be lost with out him, we drive the distance. The whole family comes and we make it a day.

We learned on this trip that none of us should leave our clothes in the hotel bathroom, as Chance does not hear anything when he takes his implants off to shower. His sister had left her clothes to change into on the counter in the bathroom and Chance went into shower. We banged on the door, and rattled the doorknob, but Chance blissfully spent his time in the bathroom in peace and quiet. His sister just had to wait until Chance was good and done and had put his implants back on.

This mapping, our audiologist said that the sentences he usually gives to test what Chance has been hearing have become too easy so he gave Chance the test he usually gives to adults with cochlear implants.

The adult test did test Chance's abilities and made him work for it. He did really well though I think he may have gotten a little bit of an education with some of the sentences he was supposed to repeat. Things like, "How long has this been going on?" Chance heard, "I wonder what's going on."

Then there was also a sentence that said,"You should be used to taking money from women." Chance could repeat that one, though I think it is a good thing that he looked confused as to the exact meaning of this particular sentence.

Chance did really well in the audiological booth. On the word test where adults usually score in the 50 to 60% correct range, Chance scored 56% in his right ear and 54% in his left ear. The audiologist was very excited about this. With both implants, Chance scored 80%. We just love 80% on an adult test!

Chance even scored in the 10db range a few times. This means he is hearing really well. We are excited with the results of the tests and find that they match what we are finding at home. Chance is hearing very well with his bilateral implants and continues to astound us with his abilities.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ok then, why didn't I hear you then?

Most mornings at our house find children with jobs to do and rooms to clean. On this particular morning, as Chance was heading back to his bedroom, I asked him to please take the matchbox car that was on the floor in the living room and put it away in his room.

To make sure that Chance heard me, I repeated my request and he even looked at me and nodded.

Half an hour later, while passing through the living room, I noticed that the matchbox car was still laying exactly as it had been all morning so I called out to Chance to come see me.

"Chance, I asked you to put this car away half an hour ago. Someone is going to step on it and get hurt."

With great conviction, Chance explained that I had NOT told him to pick up the car and take it back to his room.

I assured him that I had indeed asked him to put the car away.

Then Chance, with his head bent and his voice full of exasperation asked, "Why did I not hear you then?! "

Where to start with this question. It obviously did not occur to Chance that he would not have heard me. The problem was mine. I wanted to laugh, but Chance was so earnest and serious.

Honestly, I think that this moment had less to do with Chance's hearing loss than his being a typical 9 year old boy who gets distracted as his mother is talking to him sometimes.

Apparently, for future record though, if Chance does not hear me, it is my doing. Not his :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Riding the 'Wican'

We pulled into the parking lot of the amusement park and Chance bounced out of the car ready to take on the rides.

"I'm going on the wican!" Chance declared, referring to one of the rides he had heard his brother talking about.

"Where is it?" He wanted to know as he scanned the park from our parking spot.

"Do you want to go on the wican?" Chance asked some friends who were with us. They didn't hear him so they did not catch his mistake.

"It's called Wicked", I explained to Chance. I could just imagine Chance in the amusement park asking about riding the Wican.

With a name like Wicked, you have to know that the ride will pack a punch. Chance has always loved these thrill rides. His dad and I went on the ride with him and his little sister who also appears to be an adrenaline junky.

You start out in a tunnel where you load, then the ride slowly takes you out of the tunnel and then shoots you up to a peak, where you immediately hurtle back down towards the earth, all the while watching the earth come at you since you are face down. It was a thrill. Chance hears nothing this whole time just thrusting and what he can see. No thrill screams from the people ahead. No WHOOSH of the cars as they sail over the tracks.

We eagerly watched the kids' expressions to see what they would think. They loved it. Both of them wanted to know if we could go again. The line was quite long by this time so we told them we would come back later.

We take Chance's implants off for the rides since we don't want to know what happens to them when Chance is hurtling around at 60 m.p.h.

How much more attuned must your other senses be on a roller coaster when you are not hearing anything?! Whatever the feeling is, Chance seems to really like it")

During our ride on another roller coaster as we were climbing up to the top so that we could Swoosh down again, a voice came over the speaker reminding everyone to keep their head back against the seat. I looked over at Chance as we started to descend and realized that his head was not against the seat and he was getting ready to hold his arms up in the air as we went down. The voice that told us to hold our heads against the seat, also told us not to do that. Since Chance could not hear me, I motioned to him to put his arms down and pushed his head against the seat. This meant that when we descended, my head was not against the seat until late in the turn. It was a little uncomfy and my head got whipped around a bit, but I recovered soon enough and was glad that I had made Chance understand what he needed to do. This discussion about our heads being against the seat and not holding our arms up in the air as we descend might be better had BEFORE we actually are zooming down the tracks. I'm just thinking.

Chance had a great time and I was amazed to see how much he got while talking without implants to one of the boys. I was on a ride behind Chance and his friend, and Chance nodded as his friend gestured and looked at him while he talked. After the ride, his friend was telling Chance what rides they still needed to ride and Chance understood all but the part where he was told which ride was next. So his friend dashed off and Chance turned to me and said,"Where do I go?"

All in all it was great day. Chance loves to hurtle through the air. If only Chance and I could trade places for one ride....I could ride in silence and see what that is like, and he could see what it is like to hear the screaming of other riders and the sounds the ride makes as it zips around the tracks.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chance feels the music

Chance has been taking swimming lessons first thing in the morning so he usually just grabs his implants and doesn't put them on until he needs to hear instructions from his swimming teacher.

Today as we drove, Chance suddenly said,"Is that music? I feel music!"

From what I could see in the rear view mirror, Chance was even swaying a little to the music he felt.

Sometimes, I would like to be inside of Chance's world and feel what he feels for a moment.

Once Chance was at his private swimming lessons, I had to remind him that even though he could not hear his teacher, his teacher could hear him. I think Chance is so used to being in a class with several other kids, that he isn't used to so much attention from the teacher.

I would hear Chance say, "What?" when his teacher said something that he did not get a good lip read on, but Chance seemed to forget that even though he could not hear his teacher, his teacher could hear him.

I was again amazed at just how good Chance is at reading lips. His teacher was in the water with Chance swimming or walking along beside him and was really good at getting Chance's attention and putting himself in Chance's view so that they could communicate with speaking and lip reading. The teacher would also motion or use signals so that Chance would know what was going on.

It was a very positive experience. Chance worked harder than he ever had before during swim class. The class was tailor made for Chance's level and endurance and that is just what we need.

Chance plays checkers, and makes a satchel and a corn husk doll...

Today we went to Colonial Days which is a little replica of how a town would have been in colonial times. It was great fun. There were colonial games to play, satchels full of lavender to sew and crickets to eat. Yes, the Indians really did eat crickets and you could try them if you wanted. Chance did not want to try them. He did try his hand at several of the activities though.

Chance carefully sewed up the sides of a satchel and then filled it with lavender for me. Now all my clothes can smell good. He also made a corn husk doll for his baby sister. All of these activities were done in groups with someone dressed in colonial clothes giving out instructions. AND CHANCE COULD HEAR THEM! He sat in the groups and just listened like any other child. I never cease to be amazed at what he can hear....or that he can hear at all, let as well join a group of strangers making corn husk dolls and hear the instructions well enough to make one.

Chance also sat down at a table where a checker board was laid out and asked the boy his age sitting there if he wanted to play a game of checkers. I absolutely love to see Chance have the confidence to engage in these situations. The implants have just helped Chance to blossom and interact with people wherever he finds himself. He was extra social today and not timid about engaging people he didn't know in conversations whether it was to play checkers or ask a question about how to do a craft. Does Chance have to pay more attention then someone who hears without implants? Absolutely. Does he pick up some of what is going on by watching his surroundings? Sure. But he can hear and can participate in situations that he just walks into and is not familiar with. He has the capacity and the confidence to hear.

Chance even played a game of checkers with one of the adult volunteers who was all decked out in colonial attire.

Chance's confidence has really taken off since he has had the implants. Gone are the days when he is afraid that someone won't understand him or that he won't understand them. I used to ache when I saw him trying to communicate with people and they either didn't understand him, or he didn't understand them. I could see that his confidence was affected and that he was holding back because he didn't understand what was being said.

I look at where we are now 3 years into having him implanted and realize that getting Chance the implants has turned out even better than we dared to dream.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Chance having an implant helped the kids score some treats at the store.....

Most of the time, our journey to help Chance hear, has involved our other kids attending many doctors appointments, going to sitters while we had meetings, and having to be quiet for long stretches of time while Chance's hearing was tested or his implants were programmed.

Today however, the kids took advantage of having a brother with implants and found some perks that come with the territory.

We were in the grocery store to purchase a FEW items namely things needed to celebrate their dads birthday. We were almost done shopping and had made it to the freezer department to pick out ice cream, when I was approached by a gentleman who wanted to know how we liked the implants. It turned out that he had a grand daughter who is deaf and he was curious if the implants were working for us. I welcome questions from people. I feel that we can all help each other along this journey. It is not uncommon for us to be stopped and asked about the implants either. On this particular day, the kids were excited to get home and make a cake and were just about done with the whole shopping thing.

I talked to this gentlemen for just a few minutes, and then headed off to the cash register. The kids were all helping to unload the groceries onto the belt at the checkstand, when one of them dropped the eggs by accident. The eggs landed back into the cart with surprising little mess considering the potential of eggs to create especially sticky messes. I of course began to do damage control and sent one of the boys back to get another carton of eggs. I remember taking out a box of Go-gurts and sending the kids to put them back as they were not on our list.

After the items were totaled, I thought to myself,"That seems like a little more than I was expecting but OK." The manager and I were still clearing up the eggs right before I paid, and as nice as he was, he told me not to worry about paying for the broken ones.

Once at home as I unloaded the groceries, I found that there were several items that I did not remember placing in our cart. The kids were particularly excited about white bread. We usually only buy wheat bread but alas, a loaf of white bread was on my counter.

It turns out Chance had also taken the initiative and put two bunches of bananas in the cart as there was a stand in the frozen isle just in case you suddenly remembered that you were craving banana splits. This even though his dad had just bought bananas the day before. I also found an extra tube of frosting as I put away the groceries and suddenly the higher grocery bill began to make sense.

I don't feel so bad anymore that the kids have been dragged to numerous appointments with Chance. Apparently, they are finding the silver lining and finding benefits to our life style.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Chance passes swim class....

Chance has once again passed his swim class even though he can not hear while he is swimming. He is a little trooper that kid.

He'll have fond memories of blue shimmering water, splashing, and silence as he recalls his childhood swimming days.

I still wonder what it must be like to swim with out hearing since so much of a pool experience for me has been the whack of the diving board as someone dives in, the sound of splashing, and kids laughing . A pool is so full of non stop noise, that I can not imagine what Chance's experience is as he swims in silence.

A thank you to the boy in the red swim trunks

Dear boy in the red swim trunks,


At first, I thought you were messing with Chance when I saw you tapping him. You were so determined to get his attention, I was afraid that you were frustrated with him and my mommy radar went off. After a few days of swim class though, my heart was filled with love for you. A special love that is generated by those people who seems to just "get it" with Chance and interacts with him in such a way that it touches my heart.

I saw you on the playground after swim class and the way you touched Chance to get his attention and made sure that he knew you wanted to play and that he knew what was going on.

In swim class, you took the time to interact with Chance as you all hung out at the side of the pool waiting your turn to swim across the pool. You both laughed and enjoyed yourselves even though you could not talk to one another.

I watched as you shared a moment with Chance on the slides during the last day of class and how you went out of your way to get Chance's attention to say goodbye.

You were kind, accommodating and a good friend for Chance during swim class. I don't know that I would have taken the time to be as friendly as you were when I was a kid if there were a deaf boy in my class. Would I have just looked at him and figured he could not hear me? Or would I have been like you and let friendship transcend a lack of conventional communication?

You are an example of goodness and I am so thankful for boys like you.

I hope that you have a great summer and that good things happen to you. Thank you for making Chance's summer a little brighter and for touching a mommies heart.


Love,

Chance's mom

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Private lessons here we come!

This year our local pool is offering private swimming lessons, and we've decided to give it a go with Chance.  Chance took the regular swimming lessons and did well, but we now have a reason to want to Chance to swim well by the fall.  

Chance's dad, brother and other family members are planning a trip to Havasupai Falls in the next few months in Arizona.  They will hike in the 10 miles to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, camp out, and swim in the beautiful pools below the falls.  I think that Chance will love it.  Several people we know have been to the falls and say it is a memorable trip and worth the hike through the Grand Canyon to get there.  We have also been told that the currents in the falls are a little funny and you need to be able to swim well.  I am glad that we were made aware of this little fact.  There is something a little unnerving still about having a child that can not hear you when they are in the water.  Being at a pool with life guards around and a limited space to swim is one thing.  Being in the pool of a water fall where there are currents to contend with is another.  Since Chance will not hear any advice given from shore or be able to hear warnings in the water, we feel the need to shore up his swimming skills.   

This is a situation where the battle of using technology to hear or using sign language wash each other out.  You can not swim with the technology so you can not hear, on the other hand, unless you are looking right at who is trying to talk to you, you will not see signing either.   There is no calling out in either mode of communication.   Deaf is just deaf in the water no matter how you talk when you are on land.

Chance's dad will be nearby at all times, and there will be strict rules on when Chance can get into the water such as someone must always know that he is going in.  He won't hear anyone call out to check to see where he is if he is in the water.

So, Chance now goes to private swimming lessons in the morning.  His teacher is good and is not intimidated at all by his deafness.  He is good at reaching out to tocuh Chance to get his attention and demonstrating what Chance is expected to do.   We have told the teacher what the goal is, to get Chance ready to swim at Havasupai Falls.  Chance uses different swim strokes,  swims across the lanes of the pool and is working on diving down in the water.  I say working on because Chance's teacher tried to get him to dive down today and Chance did not want to.  

So, Chance is now swimming one on one with a swim teacher while various other people work their buns in the water aerobics class in the next lane over.  The beauty is,  Chance is not distracted by the music or the splashing of the cardio people.  He is blissfully in his own little world not diving down for his teacher.

Are those crickets?

This morning, well after the day had begun and the house was full of the family bustling around, Chance came to me and asked,

"Are those crickets?"

I knew immediately what he was talking about since when I had passed the opened window in the living room, I had the passing thought that it was late in the morning to be hearing crickets.

I told Chance that it was a cricket and then we both went over to the window to listen. An exuberant cricket apparently had its days and nights mixed up and was just singing away.

As I sat and listened to the cricket with Chance, I marveled that I could stand at the window and listen to a cricket chirp with my deaf son. I never thought that would be a possibility when he was first diagnosed as being deaf.

I also said a prayer of thanks that Chance could hear that cricket. It was mid morning and the normal sounds of the day were present, yet, Chance had been able to pick up on the sound of a cricket chirping as he passed the window..........what a blessed wonder.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chance and his underwater fascination

Chance is once again enrolled in swimming class. He is excited and enthusiastic about being able to swim each day.

Again, we leave the implants on when Chance first gets to class so he can receive instructions, then I take them and guard them. Someday, when implants can go under the water for swimming, diving and other lengthy wet activities, I will have to tell Chance our own version of walking up hill both ways to get to school. My sob story will vary a little from the normal story, but I will have a hardship story to share all the same.

"Chance, when you were young, your implants could not be under the water during swim class remember? And you could not hear a thing, no not a thing when those babies were out. So, dad and I had to track you and motion like mad people to try to get your attention while you swam. We would wave our arms like we were trying to land planes or stand where we thought you might look next trying to bore a hole in your head with our stares so you would turn and look at us. Plus, we had to try to protect those implants with our very lives so that you could keep hearing.

Chance has advanced in swimming to the level where he is doing different strokes across the pool. First the teacher will tell the class to use the breaststroke, then they do something where they look like dolphins gliding through the water. Chance usually is attentive, but this year there is a lot more wait time in between swims. For some reason, the swim class Chance is in has many more children than years past. Due to this fact, the kids have to take turns swimming across the lane demonstrating their skill in various strokes. The kids who are not swimming have more time to hang out at the edge of the pool waiting for their turn. Kids being kids, this means they bob under the water to see how the kids in other swimming classes look under water etc.

The problem being of course, that Chance does not have the luxery of hearing what is being said so he has to pay extra attention. This is difficult when your head is under the water. I have found myself motioning to Chance a few times to look at his teacher so he does not miss what is coming next.


I think,


" Son, I know these other kids can bob in and out of the water at will, but that is because they can hear when the teacher calls them back to attention. You may have noticed by now, that you hear nothing in the pool since your implants are not on."


The teacher told me that Chance is doing great, so hopfully the bobbing is not hindering his swimming skills.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chance is a blessing

Chance recently had a birthday. Where does the time go? It was about this time 6 years ago that we realized that Chance was deaf. Many changes have occured in that time. We as a family now know a lot about deafness, audiologists and speech therapy.

We've been able to attend cochlear implant camps since Chance has implants. We give him a chear at some point during the camp to celebrate that he is the reason we are there having so much fun.

It has not been an easy journey, nor has it always been comfortable. We have had to come out of our comfort zone and we had to over come a huge learning curve as we knew nothing about deafness when Chance was diagnosed. Nothing worth while is ever easy. Not being a parent, and not our baptism by fire into the world of deafness.

Oh, how Chance has been worth it though. I look at him and my heart is filled with love. I would not change this journey we have been on. I would not exchange the deafness. There are greater challenges than having a deaf child.

Chance has enriched us, made us stretch and given us great joy. Chance is a blessing in our family that keeps on giving.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Implant camp

Our family attended a local implant camp this year instead of the one in Colorado which we have attended in years past. It was the first year this camp was put on and they did a great job.

One of the best aspects of these camps is the way they include all of the kids in the family. Yes, you are there to learn about hearing loss related issues and because you have a child with an implant, but all of the kids feel like it is their camp. This is extremely important when you have a child who has required extra appointments etc. The care and attention needed to help a child with extra needs, affects all of the kids in the family in one way or another. These camps are a great marriage of learning for us parents and activities for the kids. All of the kids feel like it is "their camp" experience.

I love to gather with other parents of deaf and hard of hearing kids and learn about what we can do and what is happening with cochlear implants. There is always something that I take home with me to further Chance's journey to hear.

I really enjoy hearing from deaf adults and their experiences as they have been there. They are living a life with implants and are thus experts on the subject.

During one of the presentations, a bilateral implant user talked about using the telephone with an implant. If you did not know that this woman had implants, you would not guess that she was deaf. Her speech is incredible and she hears a lot of what is going on. Yet, she talked about how using the phone could be a challenge.

She gave an example of a friend that called and did the correct thing by first identifying herself. But then her friend went on about a recipe, but the woman with an implant had no idea what she was talking about. She had no context to help her. She finally had to tell her friend that she needed to clarify what she was talking about. She suggested the following example to help our deaf children better understand conversations on the telephone:

Caller:" Hi Jonny! This is grandpa. I'm calling about your visit to us next week."

Now Jonny has context. He knows what the conversation is about. I thought that was brilliant. Especially for kids who have had less life experience and less vocabulary to piece together the meaning of a conversation when they may not be hearing as well as they would like over the phone. This is something that would not have occurred to me, yet when I heard it, it made perfect sense. Telling the difference between a male and female voice is apparently a struggle for some implant users on the telephone. I learned some techniques that we can use to help Chance on the phone. We also learned about a product that we can buy from Cochlear (the manufacturer of Chance's implant), which helps implant users hone in on listening and deciphering sounds etc. It is made for people ages 10 to adult, but Chance will be there soon enough.

It is also great to be with parents who are going through the same experiences that you are. One of the subjects that came up was the impact having a deaf child has on other kids in the family. I don't think it is all negative impact or anything like that, but there is an impact. My kids have all spent more time in an audiologist's office than most senior citizens have. This has required them to be quiet and to basically hang out being quiet for a while sometimes while Chance has his hearing tested. My kids have also spent time on the road traveling to doctor appointments or audiologist appointments while their friends were all at home playing. We parents were talking about how having a child with hearing loss impacts the other kids in the family.

At one of the conferences I attended, a deaf man with several siblings said that his deafness was never talked about in the family. Wow. How do you avoid that for all of your growing up years? I guess people handle things in their own way.

One woman I heard from (not at this camp) talked about how in 13 years of having a deaf child, she and her husband never talked about their daughter being deaf. This just does not sound healthy to me.

The camp was a great success for our kids. They all loved it. We parents got to attend sessions on such subjects as "FM Systems"(one of those $3000.00 investments we will need to make to help Chance utilize his hearing in school and church and apparently in the van and other places adults have told us it helps in), "Music" and various therapy techniques to use to strengthen hearing in implant kids.

The kids were put in groups according to their age and had activities like touring a cheese factory, playing games and developing a puppet show which they performed for us on the last day of camp. They loved it.

There are some thing we can do to help Chance hone his listening skills. I am always grateful for more information and more ideas to help Chance strengthen his listening abilities.

Camp was a great success and the kids have already started talking about how they want to attend next year.

I am looking forward to next year as well.

So many questions, so little hearing

"What is a two alarm fire?" Chance wanted to know after looking at the picture accompanying a photo in the paper.

Of course, Chance had no implants on when he asked this, so I told him to go to bed and I would tell him in the morning.

"I'll forget!" Chance complained.

I assured him that I would remember. He loves to ask questions like this after he has taken his implants off.

Chance actually remembered the question this morning and we had a lively discussion about how things like fires, earthquakes and hurricanes are catergorized.

Now, if we can just get Chance to ask these questions when his implants are actually on...........

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Decsions, decsions, decisions

School is out and Chance could not be more excited to experience the swimming lessons, baseball, soccer, and play of summer.

Normally, we would just be chilling out knowing that at the end of summer, Chance would be returning to the same school he has always gone to. This summer is different. Chance's dad and I are weighing our options for Chance next year. It is a weight to decide what will be best for him.

On the one hand, there is a sense of accomplishment. Chance is now doing well enough, that he does not need to be serviced through the School for the Deaf anymore. He is at the top of his class in several subjects and we are delighted. This means that where before Chance was being pulled out for about 60 to 90 minutes everyday for language help, he scored high enough on language tests etc. that it has been determined that he does not need that kind of specialized attention anymore. This means that Chance can now just go to the school closest to our house; he has been attending a school 2 cities away since he started preschool.

Is Chance ready? We think he is up to the challenge of being mainstreamed for all of the subjects and academically is up to par. Is he fully caught up on language? No, he is not.

Furthermore, the speech therapist that worked with Chance all year has stated that her opinion is that Chance no longer needs speech therapy.

So, where does that leave us? With a lot to think about, that is where that leaves us.

The school that Chance has attended makes its class assignments in the spring, before we had our transition meeting to determine where Chance would go to school next year. Due to this fact, Chance has already been assigned a class for next year. There is the possibility that he would be assigned to a mixed class - a mix of 3rd and 4th graders. The teacher of the class requested she have 4th graders along with high scoring 3rd graders which is where Chance is. Such a class would challenge Chance and help him reach his potential.

There are two things that make this option difficult: Number one, we would have to get special permission now for Chance to attend this school as it is out of our home boundaries. We are no longer on a School for the Deaf IEP(Individualized Education Program), so Chance would have to have permission from the school principal before he could attend. The principal of the school knows Chance and would most likely have no reason to say no, except for the fact that a new principal will be coming in July. So, we would need to wait and ask this new principal if Chance could attend the school. There would probably not be a problem there, but we don't know for sure.

The second problem is transportation. For 6 years now, Chance has been bused to the school. Now, because we are not on an IEP through the School for the Deaf, Chance does not qualify for busing. We even asked if Chance could be dropped off and picked up at one of the students houses who will continue to be bused, who lives about a mile from our house. We figured then that would not require an extra stop. Since Chance has been moved from the School for the Deaf to our local school district, Chance can not be bused due to liability. Liability?! After 6 years, now suddenly there is liability?!

Could we commit to dropping Chance off every morning and picking him up every day at a school that is 2 cities away?

We have 4 other kids that have lives too. What if one of my other kids is sick? What if there is bad weather? Chance can not just be hanging out at the school. My experience has been that the teachers are gone almost as soon as school is over. At least there rooms are locked. Besides, we could not expect a teacher to be responsible for Chance if we were running late due to weather or an accident on the freeway.

Other options, are that Chance attend our local school, but he would not be challenged like he would have been in the 3rd and 4th grade mixed class. The other option, is that I homeschool him and keep him challenged.

Stay tuned for out thoughts on the other two options as we decide Chance's future. It is not really his whole future, but it sure feels like a weighty decision.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Chance in scouts

Since Chance just had a birthday, he has moved up in Cub Scouts. He is now a Bear. Chance loves scouts and looks forward to it every week.

I took him to his new leaders' house to drop him off and watched him walk to the side of the house where the other Cub Scouts were. I wondered if he would be a little nervous as all of his good buddies were still in the Wolf den.

Chance just walked into the fray, confident and ready to get involved. I thought to myself,

"Look how the implants have impacted his life. He can walk with confidence into new situations with kids his age confident that he will be able to hear them and become part of the group."

He can hear and there is nothing that will hold him back.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Perfect Storm

There is a device that we can check out from our church library to aid in hearing while listening to the talks during the church service. We used it for the first time last week in church.

Here's how it works: The device receives a radio signal from the microphone in the chapel, which it then sends to whatever "speaker" device is plugged into it - whether headphones (in which case this device is simply an amplifier) or in Chance's case, a NoizFree telecoil earhook, which in turn transmits the signal it receives to the implant via telecoil technologies. When Chance turns his implant into telecoil mode, it will only receive input from the telecoil device, and not from the implant's microphone (at least until we visit the audiologist and have a telecoil-microphone blend programmed in). The effect here is that Chance is listening directly to the signal from the microphone in the chapel, rather than to the standard paper shuffling and baby noises from those seated nearby.

It really seemed to help Chance to hear, he was totally focused and was really in to the meeting.
The thing is, once Chance is plugged into this device, he can not hear what is going on around him, he only hears what is coming through the microphone up front. This is great for Chance to be able to concentrate on what is being said, but it means that he can not hear us.

It just so happened that during the service last week Chance's little brother had to answer nature's call. Chance's dad went out to assist in this endeavor and I stayed on the pew up near the front of the chapel.

Soon the baby began to fuss and she did not want to be soothed there on the bench so I got up and went to the back of the chapel to kind of bounce her so she would be quiet. Babies always seem to know the difference between if you are sitting or standing to soothe them and they prefer standing.

From my spot in the back, I could see Chance and his siblings on the pew. I figured Chance's dad would be back from the loo soon and would sit with the kids while I kept the baby happy.

It occured to me while I stood in the back keeping an eye on my kids that while Chance was totally into the speaker, the other kids had no idea that he could not hear them.

I started praying that there would not be an incident where the kids tried to talk to Chance and caused an incident when he would not respond.

Then, both of Chance's brothers came back into the service.....without Chance's dad. As the kids approached our pew, I started praying harder that there would not be an incident. Chance, who was totally focused on the talk, was sitting at the end of the pew and the boys were going to have to slip past Chance in order to sit down.

This was the perfect storm brewing. The kids were alone on the pew, with everyone having to slide past Chance who could not hear anything only no one was aware that Chance could not hear them.

I was most concerned about Chance's little brother. His volume tends to go up quite a bit when he feels he is not being heard or when he does not get a response. I could just envision him asking Chance to slide over or something and then getting progressively louder when Chance would not respond.

Still Chance's dad did not return. I was near the door, so if there was an incident, I figured maybe I could just slip out and not have to witness it.

When Chance's brother got to the pew, he did start talking to Chance, and Chance did not respond. Luckily, his brother just kind of looked at Chance and moved on.

Then Chance's dad, who it turns out was fixing the soap dispenser in the restroom - so all those young kids could actually wash their hands with soap - came back in and I could breath easy again.

I realized that it would be a fabulous idea to explain to Chance's siblings that when Chance had the device on, he can not hear them so as to avoid any unnecessary expectations on their part.
My prayers were answered. There was no incident. Thank goodness.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What Chance looks forward to in 3rd grade

Chance came home from school today with a little book full of little drawings and information. Information about Chance and what he did this year in school, as well as what he is looking forward to doing next year.

It was really cute to see what he liked about this last school year: looking at rocks during the unit on rocks, computer class, going to the art museum and looking at art, writing pen pal letters etc.

The most boring thing he did was,"Sitting in my seat for a long time when my teacher was talking." Who hasn't felt that way as a 2nd grader?

Chance also wrote about what he was good at. Math was one of those things. He then listed what he wanted to learn about next year in 3rd grade. Chance wrote," 3rd grade work is really fun. I do 3rd grade work at home. I am really good at 3rd grade work and I also am good at time stables. Time stables are my favorite 3rd grade work."

Time stables? That is what he has thought they were called this whole time? I can see how that would be so. When I said the word out loud to myself, I thought, "Ya, it does sound like time stables!"

He must have wondered why the word stables was in the title, but when you like to do something, you can overlook such minute details such as the title of the activity.

I am glad to know that Chance likes to do time stables. He even said he would be working on them this summer. We'll have to have races and see who can come up with the answers the fastest, Chance, his brother, his dad or I.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chance learns what a reception is

Chance's school teacher is engaged to be married so today in Chance's backpack, he brought home an invitation to the reception.

After verifying that we would be available on the stated date on the invitation, Chance said in wonder," I can not believe that she invited us to the wedding!"

Chance's face was so full of excitement that I wanted to make sure to let him down gently.

"We get to go to the reception later that night." I said.

"Reception?" Chance said screwing up his face like he does when he is mystified.

"People usually get married and then have a reception later where people bring presents and refreshments are served."

"Refreshments?" Chance asked.

"Like cake and something to drink." I told him.

"Only family and best friends usually go to the wedding." I explained. Though the thought of a classfull of 2nd graders wiggling off to the side of the wedding ceremony would create some interesting moments I am sure.

Funny how many receptions Chance has been to and he did not know that is what they are called. He has several aunts, uncles and friends who have been married since Chance was born yet he didn't know what the event was called. He just knew we showed up for goodies and left a present.

Even though we WILL NOT be attending the actual marriage ceremony, Chance is now excited about the reception. We'll just have to keep reminding him of the word reception so he can remeber the proper name.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A call from school

Today I got a call from Chance's school. I know that because that is the name and number that came up on my caller I.D. As for the caller, well they were pretty much silent though I could feel the presence of someone on the line.

After my saying,"Hello? Hello?" , about 6 times, the call abruptly ended.

That is when I knew that the caller must be Chance, he just didn't hear me so he hung up.

Chance never calls me from school so I figured that I better call back. The number on my caller I.D. sent me to the front office where they did not know that Chance had called. At least he wasn't hurt. He would have called from the office if he was hurt.

When I explained that I had just received a call from the school, the secretary asked me whose class Chance was in and put me on hold.

A few minutes later she informed me that Chance was on his way to the office to talk to me.

When Chance got on the line, he told me that his left implant was not working. He had just put in new batteries but it still was not working. He was trying hard to be brave. but I could hear the tears he was trying to hold back. Chance hates to cry in front of people.
After agreeing that I would meet him at his class where they were having a pizza party, we hung up relief apparent in Chance's voice. It was apparent during our conversation that Chance did not hear perfectly on the school phone. I had to repeat several things.

I called Chance's dad at work since he had mentioned that one of the cords on the implant was going bad he thought. I wanted to see if it was the left one.

Chance's dad had the new coil with him in the car and it was lunchtime so he drove the coil up to the school.

It turns out the batteries that Chance used were bad. And he didn't have any more in his backpack. The little twerp had not refilled his supply or told us his backpack was bare. I check the back pack every once in a while to ensure that there is a supply of batteries but Chance will have to learn to remember to stock his back pack for school on a regular basis. We later realized that Chance had the batteries in the same pocket where there was crumbs and little pieces of paper that got into the battery pack and apparently disabled them.

There is an emergency supply of batteries in his classroom with the School for the Deaf teacher but when Chance's dad went to check, the classroom door was closed and he didn't want to disturb class.

Luckily, there is a preschool teacher out in the portable trailer who wears an implant so we borrowed some batteries from her. (She was also in class, but her aide, who was in the hall, said it was a good time to interrupt.) Thank you!!!!!

Whew! We now know that implant batteries and debris do not mix.

Chance was able to return to his bilateral hearing state and the pizza party resumed.

sports parents

I got to watch Chance play soccer last night. I have not been to one of his games in a while since our division of kids has had me with the baby.

Chance is really good! I always knew that he was a good little player, but he has been working on some moves!

Chance plays soccer at recess, and the league he is in has many kids from countries where soccer is a matter of national pride. This makes Chance stretch and learn a lot better.

At the game last night, there was a sports parent. You know, the ones that comment about the kids and act like each sports game will some how determine national policy.

This dad got upset at one of boys on Chance's team as he felt the kid had committed enough fouls to be out of the game. The fact that this kid was the best player on the team had nothing to do with this desire I am sure.

The ref, a lady in her 50's whipped that dad right back into shape by telling him that the player was a kid and the he could not talk to him like that. She is my hero. These are kids for heavens sake. Chance's dad says usually there are not incidents like that and everyone is letting the kids have fun. It is good to know though, that the ref will give them what for if parents become over bearing.

The dads from the other team did seem to have some good advice to offer their little players though. They would pull their kids aside and gesture a lot with their hands and point out onto the field.

Hmmmm. I wondered if I should be giving Chance some advice. I thought about calling him over waving my hands around a lot and saying, "Do what that dad said but in reverse since you are on the opposite team!" The fact that the other dads spoke Spanish when they gave direction squelched that idea as neither Chance nor I speak Spanish.

Chance did a great job though and after the game when I went over to thank the ref for standing up to the sports parent, she told me that Chance was a joy to watch play and that he got better every week. Several people told me that Chance is fun to watch play. And people are noticing that Chance has improved since the beginning of the season.

Chance is devoted and he wants to be a good player. He practices at home with friends and he watches to pick up new moves. Sometimes Chance has come home and showed me some fancy footwork that he has mastered.

I have noticed that the coach will do what I used to do when Chance does not hear her. She lowers her voice. That seems to help Chance hear better. When Chance had hearing aids, I would lower my voice by several octaves when calling him in the store etc. He heard lower frequencies better. People around me in the store wondered if I had some sort of disorder since I called my other kids in my normal voice and then suddenly lowered it to talk to Chance, but that just goes to show that you shouldn't judge:)

I think people are impressed that Chance is playing so well. They see the implants, but that is not the focus of their attention once they see Chance play.