Sunday, December 13, 2009
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.)
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.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
"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
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........
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
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:)
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
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 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.
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 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
"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.
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
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
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
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:)
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
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
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
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 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
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
Friday, July 24, 2009
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
"I'm going on the wican!" Chance declared, referring to one of the rides he had heard his brother talking about.
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")
Thursday, July 02, 2009
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.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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.
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
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
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.
"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
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
Sunday, May 31, 2009
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
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
Friday, May 15, 2009
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.
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 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.