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.