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.