Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I am sitting here at the desk listening intently to a Collin Raye song.  Chance is standing here next to me with a questioning look on his face waiting for me to reveal what the lyrics are saying in a few spots of the song.
You see Chance loves Collin Raye and is listening to one of his CD's while he does his job of cleaning the kitchen table and mopping the floor.
Chance thought he heard the word freez'in and wants to know what that word means.  This word is not to be confused with the word freezing as Chance is emphatic that freezing is not the word used in the song.  It is doubtful freezing is the word used since it is a love song.
Ahh Hahhh!  The word in question is "prison".  Collin Raye says prison.
I have been singing the lyrics as Chance closely watches my face.  I think we've answered the questions for this morning.  At least for this particular song:)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Take your ears off

We were driving in the van into the dark of night when Chance's brother mentioned that someone has been making fun of him and mocking him in front of some of the other boys . It was someone that we all knew, and I feel that when my kids are talking to me about other people, it is on a sort of need to know basis. Unless it affects them, I feel we should try to have respect for all of the parties involved which means not sharing information all round. This helps keep harmonious relationships with people around us and makes sure that an ant hill is not blown into a mountain.

So I jokingly told Chance to turn off his ears while we turned onto the road.

A few minutes later Chance asked," Can I put my implants back on now?"

What an obedient boy! The magnets of the implants lay limply by his head and his sweet face was turned to me with that simple question of,"Can I put my implants back on now?"

Now, if only all of the family had this ability, imagine how easily Christmas surprises could be discussed:)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Chance's watch

Chance has a watch that he wears most all of the time. He is conscientious about time and tries to make sure he is on time to scouts etc. which is a good thing.
However, for some inconceivable reason, the alarm goes off on this watch at odd times sometimes. It just starts beeping. This is all well and good if you are deaf and it goes off in the middle of the night.
However, when you have perfectly normal hearing and an alarm goes off at 1:00 a.m., you notice.
Chance fell asleep curled up by the fire on our bedroom floor. He looked so snugly we just left him there for the night.
Then the alarm went off in the early morning hours. Chance slept blissfully on while his dad and I lay in bed trying to figure out first of all what the noise was, and then wondering when the noise would end.
The alarm usually doesn't last long, just long enough to wake you up when you hear it.
Unless you are Chance of course. In which case, the alarm going off has no affect on you and is thus useless:)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Writing class

Chance's writing class is broken up into 3 groups: One group reads a book such as "Tom Sawyer", one is a poetry group where the kids read, write and analyze poetry and to be honest, I am not sure what the third group does.

Chance is in the poetry group. I noticed last week that he kept asking me what words meant as he did his homework and then it dawned on me that it was taking quite a while for Chance to get his homework done which is not characteristic of him.

Some of the poetry used words in ways that no one would ever use in normal conversations. Or writing for that matter.

Other poems had words that were not used often or old fashioned.

It occurred to me that Chance may be struggling with the vocabulary of these poems and when I asked him if he had to figure out what many of the words meant before he finished the assignment he said yes.

Then the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, when I thought all of his homework was done, Chance informed me that he had not gotten two poems finished for his poetry unit which was due that day.

Chance is very conscientious about getting his homework done on time and when I asked him why he did not have the two poems ready to turn in, he told me that he had done all of the others, these were the last two and he had done his best.

I asked him if the words in the poems made it hard for him to finish getting them done and he told me yes.

So I went in and talked to the teacher. I told her that some of the vocabulary made it hard for Chance to get through all of the assignments as he had to figure out what so many of the words meant before he could do the assignments and asked if I could work with Chance over the Thanksgiving break and get the last two poems done. She was very understanding and said that would be alright. I want Chance to do all that he is capable of and rarely do I feel that he needs special time lines to turn in assignments, but when I realized just how much the vocabulary was affecting his ability to get the work done, I felt it was only fair to allow him more time to complete the assignment. Chance is pulled out of the last bit of writing for speech once a week as well, so sometimes he misses what the teacher explains during that time.

Now the night before school starts back up again, Chance is done with his last two poems. We had a discussion as to what "analyze this poem meant" and what logical and nonsensical meant as he was supposed to pick out examples of nonsensical and logical verses from a poem they had done in class.

Just little things that amount to a lot when you are trying to get through a poem. Chance actually did most of the assignments with out my help. Most of the difficult vocabulary was in the assignments that he already turned in before the break and once we sat down and talked about what certain words meant so he understood what he was expected to do he was fine.

The last assignment involved Chance writing a poem about some of his ancestors so we hauled out the book I have filled with stories of some of our ancestors. Chance read through them and then decided to write about his great great grandma using activities she did in nature as his theme. He talked about how she loved to play outside as a girl and picked giant mushrooms to sell during the great depression from fields by her house. It was quite a good poem and I think Chance got to know his great great grandmother a little better as well.

Vocabulary will be something that I think we need to stay attuned to for the rest of Chance's school career. Chance is smart and catches on very fast, but all it takes is missing what a few words mean to blow your ability to understand what is being talked about.

As Chance gets older, the vocabulary will get more intense. I know he can do it. We just have to make sure that he gets the vocabulary ground work laid so he doesn't get frustrated.

The audiologist Carol Flexer talked about the importance of vocabulary and deaf kids when she came and gave a conference last spring. She actually said that if a deaf or hard of hearing child starts to struggle in a subject, especially one that has not been a problem before, to not assume that it was the child, but to look at the vocabulary and see if that is the problem.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One of those annoying cell phone people in Costco

I was one of those annoying cell phone people in the store Costco on Saturday. You know the ones, where you can hear their conversation across the store.

I didn't mean to be. I usually like to be quiet and unnoticed when I get a call on the phone. I figure everyone is not as interested in what my kids are doing as I am.

I can only blame Chance for my practical announcement to all of Costco that I was on my way home and that I would have Chance's birth certificate to the soccer game before it started so that he could play.

It all started when I left to the store and planned to just meet Chance at his soccer game. I had arranged with Chance's friend and fellow soccer player's family for Chance to ride with them.
As I shopped however, I got a phone call from a distraught Chance. Apparently, people cheat in this world and try to let their older kids play on younger kids soccer teams to better their chances of winning. At age 11? Really? Anyway, due to this dishonesty, Chance was not going to be able to play in the soccer game until I showed up with his birth certificate and proved that he was indeed 11 years old. Only I didn't realize this fact until I got the worried phone call from Chance.

When Chance called, I could hear the television in the back ground at an abnormally high volume plus his siblings were playing and making noise.

So, my conversation with Chance went something like this:

Chance :"Hello mom? Where are you?"

Me trying to be quiet and polite in the aisle"I am at the store."


Me:"I'm at the store."

Chance:"What? I can't hear you!"


It should be noted that talking louder does not always mean Chance can actually hear me better. Sometimes it just muffles the sound more but this time, he kept asking me to talk louder.

Chance:"When will you be home? "

Me:"In just a little bit, Cade's family is giving you a ride to the game, remember?"

Chance:"What? I can't hear you!"


Chance:"I know but I have to have my birth certificate or they won't let me play!"

Me:"Ok, I'll bring your birth certificate to the building before the game so you can play."

Chance:"What did you say?'


Chance:"O.K. bye."

I think everyone who was with in 3 rows of me at Costco heard that I would be bringing Chance's birth certificate to the soccer game before it started. I'm sure that put them all at ease:)

We may have to actually break down and get phones that text. Chance does not have a cell phone at the moment and Chance's dad and I can text on our phones but we pay for each and every text - so we turned off texting capabilities. Each time we have had texting turned on, we get slammed with ads. We end up paying for people to tell us about a three bedroom house that is for sale in our area. Or that we just won a cruise if we just call the 1-800 number. We pay more for people to advertise to us than we do actual texting from people we want to hear from.

But the time may have come to get a new phone plan and get texting so that Chance can text us when he is not hearing well on a telephone. (Of course, that also means providing Chance the ability to send & receive the texts - meaning getting Chance a phone) And then all of the people at Costco can shop in peace without hearing the drama that goes into playing soccer:)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Writing class

When I walked into Chance's writing class to help out, I was a little late. I peeped through the window in the classroom door and found Chance sitting at a table with a friend.

I made my way over to him and noticed that several of Chance's classmates were telling Chance that I had arrived, yet he didn't really respond or look up.

That was O.K., I figured he was just really immersed in whatever he was doing. And he was really immersed.

While the rest of the class hummed with the sounds of kids memorizing a poem, Chance sat calmly focused looking at his computer.

He finally saw me when I sat down next to him and then signed to me that his implants were turned off.

I nodded in acknowledgement realizing that was why he did not respond to the kids telling him I had arrived, and set my purse down.

Then it hit me that Chance had just told me that his implants were off while he was sitting in class.

I tapped him and asked him why.

He said that he could focus better on the poem he was supposed to memorize. And focus he did. Chance sat totally unperturbed by the girls at the next table over who were making up a hand slapping rhythm to memorize the poem.

In fact, the entire room had a low buzzing quality to it as a classroom full of kids repeated the verses and sometimes worked with a friend next to them.

Chance had a friend next to him too, who just kind of looked at Chance every so often. It's not like he could talk to him or ask him a question. He seemed just to understand that and sat alternating between looking at his own computer and checking out what the other kids in the class were doing.

Later when Chance got home from school, he informed me that he had gotten his poem all the way memorized.

I congratulated him and could not help but think that being able to turn off the rest of the class had major benefits sometimes.

I did tell Chance that he might want to let his teacher know when he removed the processor off of the magnets to let them dangle in unhearing bliss. Just so the teacher would know that if he did say something of importance, Chance was blissfully unaware:)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Caught in the act

Chance is doing very well. His speech is very good too and sometimes it is hard for people to know what he may need to be working on if they are not familiar with deaf children and don't know the specifics.

The speech therapist at the school is covering for the speech therapist that worked with Chance last year while she is on some sort of hiatus. I've heard that she will be back at the beginning of the new year or thereabouts. In the meantime, the speech therapist told me that Chance is doing very well and she was wondering what she should be working with him on. I don't know if the communication between the regular speech therapist and the one covering was very thorough, but it doesn't seem like the new therapist knows much about what Chance had been working on.

The speech therapist seems like a great lady and is very nice and I told her that I would give her some examples of where Chance needs some aid. Chance will say things sometimes in a way that shows he does not fully grasp how language should flow together. It is not horribly bad, but it is stuff that needs to be addressed. The older Chance gets, the more that will be expected of him and it will be assumed that he knows certain things about the way our language flows.

I forgot to bring a sample of some of Chance's language that could be worked on when I went to the school to help out this past week, so while Chance was having a down time reading, I took his laptop and began to go through some of his writing assignments. I knew that I had seen some language glitches while reading through some of his work.

The class was silent since the students were reading, and apparently I was so engrossed in writing down samples of language from Chance's work to give to the therapist, that I missed the fact that the teacher had told the class to pull up something on their computers. Chance came to me to get his computer and then into the silence of the room asked quite loudly,"What are you doing?!" The whole class looked at us.

My first thought was,"Um.........."

What was I supposed to say while the entire class was listening, "Chance I am picking out mistakes in your language in some of the papers you have written so that your speech teacher who will come to collect you in a few minutes for speech, knows what to work on with you? I'm picking our your language mistakes honey!"

Thankfully, after Chance's initial loud question of,"What are you doing?" he was more concerned with looking up on the computer what his teacher was telling him to.

Shortly thereafter, the speech therapist did come for Chance and while Chance ran to the bathroom, I went over the language issues I had pulled out of Chance's writing.

One of the examples that I gave to the speech therapist was this sentence out of Chance's writing: "Do you want more time to trick or treat? Well, I have some good reasons to tell you." Chance will be in junior high next year and it will be assumed that he has a grasp on the language to a certain degree. And he does have a good grasp on the language in a lot of ways, but sometimes I see things like this that he has written and it becomes clear that we need to work some on getting the language in his head ontothe paper a little better. Chance is a good writer, he just needs to fine tune some things.

The speech therapist said it was very helpful and gave her an idea of where she could be working with Chance.

Chance has never asked me what I was doing again and seems to have forgotten the matter.
We have Chance's IEP this week, so having examples of speech mistakes should help the speech therapist come up with ideas of goals that she can work on with Chance.

It all seems to have ended well:)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Say it with song..

Chance and his brother have chorus together at school. They are having their first concert of the year this coming week.

Last week, Chance's brother missed two days of school which left Chance to sing solo. (OK, there were all of the other kids in the chorus class singing along with him, but his brother was not there).

After school Chance proudly annonced to me that during class that day his chorus teacher had told the class that the only one singing loud enough was his friend Chance. Chance told me that he and his brother usually are the ones that sing out like their teacher wants the boys to.
My boys like to sing. This is good. The key is to keep them interested in singing through that award stage when many of the boys their age are declaring that singing is for sissies.
Chance's brother held on last year when several of the boys in the class transfered out of chorus as soon as they could since they said,"My mom made me take this class."

Chance and his brother really like singing together in class and it is fun to hear little snippets of songs escaping their lips that I had no idea they knew. Such as "Earth Angel."

Exposure to songs and learning to sing is fabulous for Chance and he really enjoys it. I hope he has a love for singing forever.

I think junior high will be when we face the biggest opposition. But his brother has held strong, bucking the trend of boys fleeing chorus. Chance can do it to:)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's all about the rhythm

I help out in Chance's school a few times a month and this week as I sat in reading, an interesting question was posed to me.

The class was going over poetry and the rhythms of different verse. The kids were listening to dicern where the emphasis is in poems and which syllable gets the accent.

The teacher came to me and asked how well Chance could hear the differences in the slight variations in the poems.

That was a good question. I told her that Chance actually hears really well and she said that when she had asked him which syllable gets the accent in a line of "Twas the Night Before Christmas", he got it right.

I have not thought of this before. For me, the little rhyming sing-song cadence of "Twas the Night Before Christmas", has just been a part of life since childhood. It seems I have always known that poem and its sing-song rhythm.

But what about for Chance? He wasn't hearing the subtle differences when he was little so I wonder how this poem plays out in his brain?

His little brother can already recite much of this little Christmas classic simply because of the sing-song verses and the rhyming.

Chance seems to be getting the accenting and metering fine, but I don't know that he has the same little ditty that plays through his head as many of us do when he recites this classic poem.
Also, how does he hear the subtle differences in poetry? Does he catch all of the ups and downs in verse?

Now I will have to test this out and see. I want to see if he hears and appreciates the little subtle changes in verse especially when they don't rhyme.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sometimes... It is Not OK!

Rarely in Chance's sojourn as a deaf child have I felt the need to put an adult in their place due to how they treated my son. We have been blessed to have mostly positive experiences and few outright persecutions due to Chance's deafness.

This week was an unfortunate week where Chance's inability to hear brought an unacceptable response from an adult at the school.

When Chance was first diagnosed as being deaf, I remember telling his dad that I could understand children saying things about his hearing aids or even making fun some as kids do when kids are different than them, but I would have no patience with adults who were mean to him due to his deafness. I feel adults should know better than to taunt a deaf child or any child who has a disability. And they should have more of an understanding as well.

This week at school however, an adult exhibited less than stellar behavior when interacting with Chance.

During school lunch, apparently some of the kids left their trays sitting on the table and did not clear them. To take care of this problem, a staff member at the school (not a teacher or principle) went out to find every 6th, 7th and 8th grade child to come to the lunchroom to help clean up since no one would fess up to leaving their trays.

Chance was upstairs in a little alcove at the top of the stairs that looks down on the lunchroom. Chance was sitting by a friend and suddenly his friend stood up and ran down the stairs. Chance said he thought, "I wonder why he got up and left so fast?" Soon, Chance found out as the staff member came to where Chance was and just yelled that he had to come down.

Chance said,"I was the only one there mom."

I asked Chance if he heard the man yelling before, and he said that he could hear that someone was yelling somewhere but he could not understand what they were saying.

Chance started scrambling to pack up his laptop and backpack as the man yelled out at the only child there which was Chance.

This staff member is loud to begin with. I have heard him at the school during lunch keeping the kids in line as they eat lunch. He has a very LOUD voice and it carries all the way down the hall. Plus, this man is a big man. The combination can be very intimidating to kids in normal circumstances I am sure.

The thought of this big loud man bellowing at my deaf son because he did not hear him calling the kids to the lunchroom, did not go over well with me.

Thankfully, Chance does not seem to have taken the situation personally.

My older son told me that this staff member was angry and was yelling at all of the older kids to come. My older son was outside eating lunch and heard yelling but by the time he got back inside, the incident appeared to be over. It was not, however, as the staff member then insisted that all of the older grades appear in the lunchroom the next day during lunch to clean during their lunch break. All of this because a few of the kids did not clear their trays. My boys bring lunch from home and don't even use the school trays so yelling at Chance because someone did not clear their tray was pointless to begin with. Chance is not a child that requires one to yell anyway. He is usually quite compliant and tries to adhere by the rules. He does not need harsh treatment to comply. I am told all the time by his teachers in school things like,"I wish all of my students were like Chance," and "He is no trouble at all."

I headed back up to the school to see the principle right after school and one of the things I told him was,"Someone yelling my son because he did not hear is not OK."

The principle told me that I had taken him off guard as he did not know about the situation but that he would email me when he checked it out. I have not heard back from him yet, though if he does not contact me by tomorrow, I will call him back.

I understand that there are a lot of kids to keep under control at the school, but this situation seems to have gotten out of hand. A man who will yell at a deaf child is a man who is out of control. He should have been able to realize that Chance was the only one in the room and may not have heard rather than go off on him. I think he should have been able to contain himself with all of the kids. Yelling and screaming at kids like that over left over trays is not a proper response from an adult with kids who have normal hearing let as well yelling at a deaf child who does not grasp what is going on. Was all of this yelling worth it? Was it effective? I don't think so. I think it just scared the kids spitless. This seems to have been more about control than moving towards a solution.

I am not one who regularly goes to the principle's office but I felt that this situation could not just be let go. Meanwhile, I am waiting to see what the principle says.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The importance of friends

When Carol Flexer gave a presentation in Salt Lake City she spent all day giving us great information to help the deaf children in our lives. As I listened throughout the day about helping these kids and helping them learn to self-advocate, something occurred to me: The advantage of having a few good friends that you feel comfortable asking questions. If you have a friend that you feel you can turn to and say,"What did she just say?" It could make all of the difference.
I began to wonder if as kids get older they actually are less inclined to ask questions when they miss what was said.

I think of myself in situations where I am in a group of people and miss something that was said. If everyone around me starts doing a task and they all seem to know just what to do, I usually won't ask right away what we are doing. I will sit back and observe everyone for a minute to see if I can figure out what I missed. When everyone around you seems to be in the know but you, sometimes you feel a little sheepish because they all got it and you didn't.

I can see how our deaf kids would just see if they could figure out what was going on instead of asking about what they missed especially as they get older.

I brought this topic up as I ate lunch with my deaf and hard of hearing friend and they readily agreed that there were times when they tried to figure out what was going on around them by observing those around them rather than ask questions as everyone else seemed to know what was going on. Especially in high school.

Chance with some friends at the Hogle Zoo
I thought of Chance's neighborhood friend that is in his class at church. I have seen Chance turn to him to clarify that he heard something right. He is comfortable doing that with this friend and so he does. I wonder if he would be as willing to ask if he was sitting by someone who was not a friend or someone that he didn't know well. Hmmmm.

I can see the advantage of being with people you feel comfortable enough to clarify things with or ask questions to when you are a deaf child.

I have seen Chance freely ask his friends in the neighborhood to clarify things and he will ask us in the family when he doesn't quite get what was said, but if he was sitting by a child he didn't know real well at school? I don't know that Chance would bother asking.

I think he would ask if the situation got desperate enough. Like if the room went silent and everyone was typing steadily on their computers and Chance didn't know what in the world they were supposed to be typing. I don't see Chance sitting and doing nothing instead of asking someone what they are supposed to be doing because it is important to him to do well in school and finish his assignments. But I do wonder if Chance would ask every time he needs to in various situations when he misses what was said. It is something to think and talk about with him to help him learn that part of self-advocating is asking questions even when he may not be completely comfortable, so that he knows what is going on.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Carol Flexer and vocabulary

Carol Flexer came out to Salt Lake City and spoke to parents, teachers, and those who work with deaf and hard of hearing children. She is an audiologist and quite amazing. I always learn something to use with Chance when I listen to her and I appreciate her knowledge.

It was after hearing Carol Flexer talk about how we should expect our deaf children to hear from 30 feet more than 6 years ago that got us seriously thinking about getting Chance a cochlear implant again.
My husband and I looked at each other and mouthed,"THIRTY FEET?"
We realized that we could have expectations like that with Chance's hearing.

When Carol came this last spring, she talked about many things that struck me and made me think. One thing she talked about was when a deaf child starts struggling in school when there was no problem before, don't immediately decide that it is the child. Look at the vocabulary and the terminology first. Many a deaf child has struggled due to the fact that they did not hear or understand the vocabulary or terminology, not that they could not get the concept. And the terms get more difficult as they get older.

This is a concept that I remember focusing on when Chance was younger, but I think I need to make sure that he is getting the terminology now.

Imagine how lost you could get if you just missed what eruption meant when doing a unit on volcanos in science. The teacher would start talking about the different signs that a volcano may present before it erupts and you would be trying to figure out what in the world she was talking about.

Or what if you missed what the word sum meant in math. The teacher would be up there telling you to figure out the sum and you would be a lost little puppy.

I went out to lunch with two deaf adults in the break during Carol's conference and it was so enlightening to learn from them. The gentleman had been one of Chance's consultants when he was in 2nd grade and wears hearing aids. The woman is a friend of mine who has bilateral implants.

I saw how when a baby started to cry a few tables over they both leaned in to hear better. I heard the baby but my hearing was not hampered by the noise.

I also learned from Chance's consultant that he has seen how vocabulary issues has side-tracked kids that otherwise are doing great in school. Once they understand the vocaulary they are good to go.

I know that Chance has some holes in his vocabulary. He went two years without hearing plus several years not hearing all that he needed to so every once in a while a word will come up that other kids his age will know the meaning of but Chance does not. He did not hear the word the 500 plus times they say a child needs to hear a word to "own it" from the ages of 1 to 6 like most of his peers. Plus, these deaf kids hear amazingly well but they do not hear absolutely everything.

I have requested that Chance's science teacher send me the vocabulary and terminology for their units as much of it is going to be stuff Chance has not heard before. I think it will do a lot of good to get the terminology and go over it with him to make sure he gets the meaning of the concepts at least the vocabulary involved. That will help ensure that he is on an equal footing with his peers when his teacher starts throwing around new terms that Chance has never heard before in his life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chance is the one they look up to now

Years ago, our family attended an A.G.Bell ice cream social in a park right after Chance was diagnosed.

We were a little like wanderers in a confusing universe. Our universe consisted of having an almost 3 year old diagnosed as being deaf and now we were trying to figure out what to do about it.

What tests did he need to determine the cause?

What doctor should we be seeing next?

How much was Chance hearing with his hearing aids anyway?

And perhaps the question that was topmost in our minds:"What was the best thing for Chance and what should we be doing about that?"

We ambled over to the pavilion and watched strangers with children with hearing loss. We were actually more interested in the children with hearing loss than with their parents at the moment.

Were the deaf kids really hearing?

Could they understand what was said to them?

Did they look happy?

How were the older ones, like 11, 12, and teen-agers? Were they talking? Could you understand them when they talked? What were they doing in school? Did they need all kinds of special help when they got to be that age? Were they integrated with their peers and not left out of everything?

Last night, 8 years after that first ice cream social in the park, Chance was the one being watched by parents with young children and babies with hearing loss. I introduced myself to a few parents and after briefing each other on our children's hearing loss situation, they would want to know where Chance was.

I would find him playing football, playing in the jumpy house or just goofing around with friends and call him over.

I would show him the little baby with teeny hearing aids and he would think they were cute. Then the parents would ask Chance a few questions:
How old was he?
What grade in school?
Did he like his implants?

He would smile and nod his sun-bleached head as he answered their questions.

Chance on recent campout with his Dad and brother
Chance represents the possibilities now. He is the bigger kid who talks, goes to a regular school and plays on the city league sports teams. He is completely capable and able to do whatever he wants to do.

The journey was not always easy and there were a lot of things we just didn't know. Our journey was a little different because Chance was diagnosed later and therefore we were playing catch up and none of the professionals dared to give us too much hope since no one had any idea what Chance would be able to do. It had not been established if the hearing loss was progressive. We did not know if there were other medical issues that accompanied the deafness. Chance had a lot of make-up time in language. He was well behind his peers his age and he had had no hearing input or any other language input for two years. No one quite knew what would happen with Chance.

Miracles occurred, that is what happened. Bonafide God-given miracles. Lots of prayer, years of effort, hard work, frustration, the unknown and never giving up have come to fruition. The results are in and the scores are awesome!

The possibilities for these deaf and hard of hearing children are amazing.

I hope some of those parents left the ice cream social a little more confident in their ability to carry on and realizing that the future for their deaf and hard of hearing children is bright. They will be able to do what ever they set their minds to. And those wonderful parents are just the ones to help their children on this incredible journey!~

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Karaoke moments elicit fear into the hearts of many a person. There seem to be two types of people...those who get up and have a good time singing karaoke, and those who given the choice would rather take their chances swimming with a shark.

Our church congregation had a party up the canyon by our house with a picnic and karaoke singing. A red book was passed around with all of the possible songs one could sing in front of friends and neighbors.

As the night wore on and Chance listened to more and more people get up and sing, he and his sister decided that they would like to give it a go. So they found a song that they knew called,"Hey There Delilah" and up they went in the mountain air to sing their song.

Chance did not know all of the words to the song and instead was relying on the scrolling screen in front of him that displayed the lyrics to fill in the gaps.

At first he just sort of looked down at the screen trying to make sure he didn't miss any of the words like his sister. He did a good j0b singing all of the words and soon the two of them began to loosen up.

After he was done, he was so proud of himself and he told me," Mom! At first when I got up I was nervous and was just trying to sing all of the words, but by the end of the song I wanted to sing all of the songs in the book!"

Ahhh the confidence of youth. Maybe it was the mountain air, but whatever it was, I hope Chance retains this confidence forever.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Chance tells the state school board about his great teachers

A few months ago the state of Utah had a series of meetings to determine what should be done with the School for the Deaf and Blind. In a nutshell, due to the passionate views on the debate on whether deaf children should learn to talk or use sign language, the states school board of education had been hearing many complaints about the education of deaf children. People were unhappy that their particular choice was not being honored the way they thought it should through funding etc. And frankly, the school board had heard enough complaining that they were wondering if the School for the Deaf and Blind should even exist anymore. They felt that perhaps the services provided by the school should be transferred to the various school districts in the state. Bad, bad, bad idea!!

Some people just don't understand the education of deaf children. I of course come from the listening and spoken language route, having a child with bilateral implants. What is done for these kids in the early years makes all of the difference in their later years of life. In my opinion, few investments offer such a huge pay off for the state in the long run as that of giving young deaf children the services they need when they are young.
Take Chance for instance. Chance is thriving and is completely capable to compete with his hearing peers in school, sports, scouts etc. He got what he needed when he was young and now it is paying great dividends.
Since Chance has been so blessed by the services offered through the School for the Deaf through the years, he accompanied me and his father to testify before the state school board of the importance of the services that are provided by the school. Passing these services off to local school districts would be a tragedy for deaf kids and I am not exaggerating in saying that. The teachers and professionals at the School for the Deaf are trained to work with deaf kids and give them what they need so they get what they need to reach their potential.

Special education teachers along with school speech therapists would try to give what was needed but frankly they just don;t have the training to give these deaf kids what they need.

Thankfully, the state school board has not dissovled the School for the Deaf as of yet, and hopefully, they never do. The school is vital for our deaf children to get what services they need and we have a great spoken language program with superb teachers and professionals who are dedicated to these kids.

Long live the School for the Deaf!

Here is Chance's speech to the state school board of education: (it is a bit choppy sorry about that - no image-stabilizer, and volume in room was low... )

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Discussions on a Long Drive...

Ohhhh the beauty of long car rides with the family. So many memories are made along with interesting occurrences that you can all talk about forever.
On the Road Again... Just Can't Wait to Get on the Road Again...

Our family recently got back from such a trip. We drove across the country until we found ourselves in the state of Illinois. That is several states away from us and required three long days of driving EACH WAY. That is a total of 6 days of blissful travel in case you are counting. The days in the car really weren't that bad. We tried to visit interesting sights along the way and we all made memories to last a life time.

One such memory came about due to a movie the kids were talking about called,"The Best Two Years". The movie takes place in The Netherlands and has a joke about someone asking for sliced bread. Only instead of asking for sliced bread, the man asks for circumcised bread since the two words sound awfully alike in Dutch.
Chance and his brother at Winter Quarters Historic Site

Chance's older brother asked about the joke and we told him what it meant. He blushed a little and then said,"Oh, so that is why they are all laughing!"

Chance did not hear our explanation of the joke since he was in the back of the car and there was lots of extra noise at the time.

So, we told Chance's brother who was sitting in the middle seat to tell Chance what the joke was about.

His brothers eyes got big and he said something like,"What? I don't want to have to explain it to him! That's embarrassing!"

We made him do it anyway. Chance could not hear us, not when trying to tell him details like a joke.

A light went on in Chance's eyes as he got the joke and he laughed.

You just never know what you might learn about while on a cross country road trip with the family.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our one and only day of balcony seating

Today we attended church in a beautiful building called a tabernacle. It is an older building built in 1909. There have been some improvements since then of course, such as indoor plumbing which I am a BIG fan of:)

The building has charm and little touches of elegance that they used to build into such buildings back in the day. We attend church here about every 6 months as it a time when several wards meet together so a larger venue is needed.

A note as to what a ward and stake are:
A ward is a group of church members that live with in a specified radius and meet together to worship each week. A ward usually consists of roughly 300 people and is presided over by a bishop who cares for and looks after the people in his ward. A stake is a group of about 7 wards and typically consists of about 2,000 people with a stake president presiding over the 7 wards. These numbers can vary depending on where in the world you are located. These wards and stakes can be found all over the world in many different counties using many different languages. About every 6 months, a stake meets together to receive instruction from the stake president and his counselors. This merits the need for a bigger meeting place and so we use the tabernacle in our area.

In years past, we have sat in the basement area where we are close to the bathrooms and where we watch the proceedings on a television. This area is great for families with young children as there is a hallway outside where you can let the little ones stretch their legs after sitting for a while and there are bathrooms close by. The meeting lasts about 2 hours so there is a need to stretch ones legs when you are a little kid:) Plus, if we are honest with ourselves, we know that sometimes we have sat in the basement because we have not arrived early enough to get another seat in the chapel. Mostly though, we sit in the basement because it is best for young kids:)

Today, we decided to graduate to the balcony of the old building. We had a sweeping view of the stage and the chapel below. We could see in detail the beautiful decorative work along the ceilings and railings. It was a great place to be to be spiritually fed.

As the first speaker got under way however, I found that I had to focus in order to hear him. Then I thought of Chance and wondered what he was hearing. I leaned over and asked him,"Chance, can you hear?" He despondently answered,"I can't hear anything." (which would help explain why he kept having issues with his sister. When one can't hear, one has time to focus on other things and can be more irritated by little sisters...who it should be mentioned was not an innocent victim in this scenario)

Beautiful old building, with minimal acoustic stability.

There was still an hour and 35 minutes left in the meeting which was much too long for Chance to be expected to just sit not hearing. So, I began to check out the seats below from our balcony view to see if there was another place closer to the podium so Chance could hear. As luck would have it, there were a few seats on pews off to the side of the stage where a television screen had been set up so you could see the speaker.

We could not take the entire family up to the new seats(OK, maybe we could have but we were not ready to take several young children up to the front of the chapel where they could be seen by everyone and where there was not room to stretch little legs and noise made would be heard through out the chapel). Thankfully, other families seemed to feel the same way so there were some seats still available in this area.

In a tender and loving gesture, Chance's brother who it should be noted is always there for his brother, volunteered to go sit up on the side of the stage with Chance so he could hear. I escorted the boys down the stairs and waited at the back of the room while they made their way up to the seats on the side of the stage. I then waited for the signal that told me if Chance could hear intricate system that required the boys to give me a thumbs up or down.

The boys flashed a thumbs up sign and then I headed back up to the balcony seat. I could see the boys from up there and they sat so reverently down there together it did my heart proud.

At the dinner table at home, we discussed what was talked about at stake conference and Chance was able to tell us what he had learned since he could actually hear after the move.

We have now learned that when we next attend church in the tabernacle, our family needs to get there extra early so we can sit in the chapel down by the podium so that Chance can hear. Or stick to our seats in the basement. The balcony is a beautiful place to sit, but Chance is more than worth it so we can give up the lofty seating from here on out:)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Under the bed

"I hate it when my implant falls off of my bed and lands under my bed during the night. Especially since under my bed is a wild wilderness of stuff."
This is the thought that I imagine Chance had when he realized that is implant had fallen under his bed after he fell asleep.
How is this for natural consequence parenting?
Clean under your bed, you'll find your implant!
Chance has not appreciated only having one implant today, yet he has realized that in order to find the other one, he must search under the depth.
Ahhh, the natural laws of the universe at work:)
The thing is, I know he will clean at least some of it because he can not stand only having one implant for very long.

Disclaimer: Chance shares a bedroom with his brother and each of them claim the stuff under the bed belongs to the other one and should therefore be cleaned by the owner.
So, until the items under the bed are unearthed, we won't know if Chance is to be blamed for the mess or not.
The plot thickens.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chance can't hear the cheers, but we yell encouragement anyway

Funny thing about Chance being on the swim team. Even though he can't hear us cheer, we cheer him on just as loud as we do his brother. It just seems wrong to cheer enthusiastically for his brother and then stand silently by as Chance swims. We adore both of them and want them both to know that they have fans in the stands!
I think Chance can feel our vibes of encouragement even if he doesn't hear us yelling out his name or telling him things like,"Come on, bring her on home!"

I wonder what it is like to swim with out hearing all of the voices and noise bouncing around? Sometimes those swimming event places are just plain loud. For other swimmers the noise is part of the race.
Chance's race is blissfully quiet. Or is it blissful? He doesn't know any different and it seems that you could concentrate on your strokes with out having to wonder,"What did I just hear? Did they say Dan was winning?"

Hmmmmm. To be a part of Chance's world for a minute would be really interesting.
In the mean time, we continue to give a shout out,"Go Chance!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The missed start

Chance is flourishing being on the city swim team. He takes this endevour very seriously checking his times from previous swim meets and trying to improve. Yesterday during the meet here at our home pool, Chance was favored to win the freestyle based on times from the last meet. Chance was ready. And excited. The boys were all lined up in their lanes at the end of the pool waiting in anticipation for the buzzer to sound telling them it was time to start.
Except Chance who was waiting for the designated person to pull their arm down so he would know it was time to start seeing as how the buzzer could sound all night and day and Chance would still not know it was time to go.

The problem is, the person Chance was supposed to watch, was not standing in a good place for Chance to see them. In order to see their arm, Chance had to crane his neck at a weird angle and therefore was not be in a good position to start a competitive race. So, he came in 4th place. Which is still really good, but not where he wanted to be. Once he got off, he swam hard and made up time, just not enough to win.

Chance's dad decided that he would volunteer to be the person Chance watches next time as he will be much more aware of how important his location is to Chance's ability to start the race in good position and on time.

We'll have to be aware of this little glitch each time the hosting cities don't have the flashing light and rely on a person to tell Chance when it is time to go.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


One of the main topics they stress to you as a parent of a deaf child is to teach your child to advocate for themselves. They won't always have you with them and besides, they have to have the ability to go out into the world and do things like tell their teacher when they can't hear, or have someone repeat the instructions when they missed what was said.

We have tried to ensure that Chance is expected to be as independent in the same things his older brother was at his age..whatever age that may be at the time.

That self advocating came to the forefront today when I got a phone call from Chance.

Chance called me from a neighbors house to ask me if his two friends could come to his little brother's T-ball game so that they could all play tennis during the game at the tennis courts at the Junior High.

Apparently though, the details had not been worked out before he called me because he kept talking to friends and working things out while we were on the phone. This was OK, but I was surprised that Chance would carry on a discussion with me, two friends and all of the background noise that was coming from his friend's house where they have 4 young children that I could hear making noise. He usually does not appreciate lots of noise while he is on the phone and will sometimes hand the phone to me if he is talking to someone and there is too much background noise on either end of the line.

The talking went back and forth for a minute, with Chance asking me if he could invite his friends, then telling his friend to ask his mom, then asking me what time the game started, then having his friend tell his mom etc. etc.

Then, Chance yelled, "EVERYONE QUIET!" Then a little softer, he added,"I'm on the phone."

Wow. Chance told the neighbors to be quiet in their own house? I think he was talking to all of his friend's siblings and not his friend's parents. Chance is not that brave enough to tell parents to be quiet. That is a good thing:)

It is true that he has been playing at this neighbor's house since he was 3 years old and it is the home of his oldest friend. But should he yell at all of them to be quiet?

Perhaps I should have a little talk with Chance and tell him that he should limit yelling at people to be quiet when he is on the phone when he is at someone else's house:)

Or perhaps he could ask everyone BEFORE he makes the call to please be quiet so he can hear on the phone.

Chance self advocating is a good thing. Maybe we should focus a little on technique now:)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Singing with the girls....

Today in church, the kids played a game to help them learn the songs they will perform in the fall for the entire congregation.

Chance loves to sing and so when as part of the game, one of the songs was to be sung by "just the girls", Chance screwed up his face in frustration and signed to me as I was sitting behind him and over several seats,"I love this song! I want to sing!"

And then he did sing. With all of the girls in the room.

Of course this got some of the kids in the room laughing and pointing at Chance but he did not care and just sang on.

Chance's dad was up in the front of the room helping with a prop for the game and when his eyes caught mine, he nodded toward Chance and signed to me that Chance was singing. I could see that he was concerned that Chance had not heard that only the girls were to sing and now he was innocently singing along with the opposite sex.

I just smiled and half signed, half mouthed that Chance knew it time for just the girls to sing. He was just choosing to sing anyway.

As I watched Chance sing out undaunted by a few boys around him who were pointing and laughing at him, I thought how great it was that he didn't care about their reaction.

To me it showed that Chance is not self conscious about being different and does not feel the need to hide back in the shadows. He is deaf yes, but that does not define him. He was not worried that the other kids might think he didn't know only girls were singing. He didn't seem to care what they thought about him at all.
I hope he keeps this confidence forever and does not allow himself to be swayed by what others say.

The irony is, that the next step in the game, had only the boys sing the next verse. Chance looked back at me and with a big grin on his face, began to sing again. This time with the boys.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chance is in the play

Chance's school put on the play, "1,000 cranes", based on the book. Chance got a part with quite a few lines and he was devoted to practicing to the point that one night when I told him he had to go to bed he complained,"You are not letting me practice for the play like I am supposed to!"

I am a brute that way.

Chance did a great job and had all of his lines completely memorized. He got a little nervous on stage (who doesn't), but he had those lines down pat and he did a great job. I found myself thinking,"None of these people would guess this is a deaf boy if they didn't see the implants. He is confident and he presents himself very well. We are so proud of this boy of ours!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

You've got a friend in me

Chance has a good buddy that he has known since preschool. They are "two peas in a pod", a term both of them learned just this past week during their weekly speech session.

It just so happened that this friend ended up attending the same charter school this past year which both of them found most delightful.

Both boys wear implants...Chance has two, his friend has one. Chance is in fifth grade and his friend is in fourth grade. They were in the same grade until Chance bumped up a grade this past year and though Chance was happy to go up a grade, he really lamented the fact that he and his friend would now be in different grades.

Alas, the gods that be saw fit to place both of these boys at lunch during the same time and to allow them to spend afternoon recesses together. So it is only morning recess that they must be apart.

While talking to Chance's friend's mom about how cute they are together, she informed me that apparently a boy at school had been teasing and picking on her son. She then told me that Chance went up and set this boy straight, defending his friend, and now there does not seem to be a problem.

How great is that? Chance is nothing if not loyal and devoted.

So, don't mess with Chance's friends or you'll have to answer to Chance himself.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chance gets his purple, orange and white belts

Chance has been playing the recorder in his music class at school. He really enjoys it and his teacher has come up with a fantstic idea to motivate the kids. They earn "belts" like you do in karate, and you get colored strings tied onto the end of the recorder each time you pass into the next level. Chance now has several lovely colored strings hanging off the end of his recorder of which he is very proud.
His teacher told me that the kids get up and play songs in class and then get a new string when they pass off the song. He said that Chance has been passing off several songs and that the kids in class sit and cheer him enthsiatically when he is done each time. He says it is really neat.

These are some of the same kids who laughed at Chance when he sang to try out for a solo part in the program.
I think these kids have now earned some redemption:)

I love teachers at school who make learning fun and intersting.

Now, if we can just get Chance to put on his implants BEFORE he practices the recorder in the morning, all will be right in the world.

Yes, he actually did that one morning...get up and practice his recorder with out putting on his implants.

What a spaz. But a cute spaz.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

You can count on me

Chance and his brother went camping with their dad to a camp that let the boys experience life as a civil war soldier. They were not allowed to bring any technological devices, though Chance did inform us that he would be taking his implants with him despite the rules:)

Snacks were forbidden since civil war soldiers were not wolfing down granola bars, M&M's or corn-nuts in camp.

The campers all slept in the type of tents that were used during the civil war and marched around with their "guns" doing drills as the soldiers would have done.

The leaders or dads were in one huge tent and the boys were all in another huge tent. Chance and his brother went with some boys they knew in their scout troops but they also made some friends in camp. It was Chance's first scout camp out since he just turned 11, and he was very excited. The boys were all talking excitedy and enjoying themselves and then the lights out at 10:30 call came out. When you don't have modern flashlights, it is not as fun to stay awake in a dark camp.

When the wake up call came at 6:30 in the morning, Chance's dad said that it was like the boys had all woken up in unison just before the official revelry call and were laughing and awake in the kids tent. He realized that Chance had probably missed both the wake up call and the interaction between the boys first thing in the morning.

He needn't have worried. When Chance's brother realized that the boys were all waking up, he woke up Chance and had him put his implants on so Chance was in on all of the action from the beginning.

It does my heart good as a mother to know that Chance's brother is watching out for him and helping him to be involved in the activities. I am impressed that he thought of Chance right off even when he was talking with his new friends. He could have just left Chance to sleep until the morning wake up call went out and then wake him up. But he didn't.

I really think that Chance and his brother were sent down to our family by God to be together. They are close and watch out for each other. They may have a few moments of discord every once in a while, but they are devoted and loyal to one another which does my heart good. They will have each other to lean on and confide in and that is a great thing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

No electronic devices

It is the time of year every child waits in anticipation for......year end testing in school.
Chance's class has been testing these past few weeks and some of these tests have taken place in the school library.
Before entering, the kids are admonished that NO electronic devices will be allowed and they are enumerated just in case someone forgets; no cell phones, no ipods no nothing.

The teacher that goes around with Chance's class through out the day told me that Chance made him crack up the other day as they entered the library. Chance walked up and said slyly,
"Mr. Nixon, I have electronic devices."
Then he tugged on his implants and laughed.
Indeed, Chance does have electronic devices and no one can do anything about it:)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chance at speech fair

Chance performed at the annual Alexander Graham Bell Associations sponsored Speech Fair again this year. Only this time, he played the guitar and sang,"You Are My Sunshine". He was excited to play and even ran into school to perform the number for his guitar teacher the day before since he was not going to be able to make it to the annual event.

The Speech Fair is always a bit of a walk down memory lane for us. It is a sort of "This is Your Life" scenario where we relive the years that Chance learned to hear and talk.

First, there are the preschoolers all tiny and a little nervous to perform. Their teachers have been working with them on their pronunciation for weeks leading up to this event. Whatever they end up singing or reciting is adorable. Parents get a little weepy thinking,"My deaf child is up there singing...look what they can do!"

Then the kindergartners get up with a little more confidence than the preschoolers and perform and parents sit in awe at the progress their child has made in pronunciation in just one year.

Then the first graders get up all confident and sing practically like pros. Parents beam in their seats as they marvel at the singing and talking abilities of their blossoming deaf or hard of hearing child.

Then there are the older kids who perform by themselves singing, dancing or playing a musical instrument. It is miraculous to behold how far these kids come in just a few years.

When Chance was really little, we would watch these older kids and get emotional wondering if someday Chance would be doing as well as they were. We would sit riveted in our seats as the kids introduced themselves and talked about how they were on the dance team or soccer team at school. Watching those older kids gave us hope and faith that someday Chance would be integrated into his neighborhood school and do things like join the local cub scout group and go to church with us just like any boy his age.

That day is here. Chance is thriving and completely integrated into local activities, be it church, cub scouts, or the city league track team. And one of the most touching things for me, were the parents who came up to me and told me how well Chance was doing and how they watched him and it gave them hope for their child.

The process continues. We watched other kids and got hope for Chance's future and now other parents are watching Chance and furthering their hopes for their own children. It is truly a blessing to be a part of this process, to walk down this road with Chance and to have him in our family. We love him.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

When you can't hear the jack hammer, deaf is good

We have men jackhammering through concrete in our basement. It is for a good cause in the long run, yet quite loud. The baby has not napped on the days the jack hammer has been going. I guess that is not a sound conducive to napping.

All of us deal with the sound in different ways. Such as not even attempting to perform a task that requires concentration and not talking on the phone. You can't hear what the person on the other end is saying anyway unless you go to the very end of the laundry room, turn off the washer and dryer and then you can hear some but not all of the converstation on the other end.

Chance we discovered however, is not bothered by such little nuances such as jackhammering when his implants are not on. This became apparent when the jackhammering started fresh and early in the morning for the rest of us, but Chance woke up and asked us as he sauntered to the kitchen,"Are the workers coming today?"

We all looked at each other in amazment.

"Don't you hear that noise?" I asked Chance as he faithfully watched my lips so he could see what I was saying.

"What noise?" Chance wanted to know.

Well then. The baby may not be able to nap through the jackhammering, but I think Chance wouldn't have a problem if he takes his implants off.

Sometimes, I kind of wish I had implants.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Chance knows his composers

We were sitting Sunday morning watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform a song for their "Music and the Spoken Word" program when Chance asked,"Is this music by George Frideric ? It sounds like his music. He used to write and conduct music for the queen of England."

"Where did you learn about George Frideric ?" I asked.

"Mr. Imler's class at school." Chance replied.

We looked up the composer and it turns out it was George Frideric Handel.

"Oh, I forgot the last part Handel." Chance replied.

Mr. Imler is the music teacher at school. Apparently, Chance has been paying attention in that class. AND hearing enough to be able to differentiate between composers to be able to know when music sounds like a certain one's work. Chance was right. The music the choir was singing was composed by George Frideric Handel. My deaf son picked that up by listening to a choir sing. I believe in miracles, and my son's hearing capabilities fall into the miracle range on days like today.

Thank goodness for miracles, Chance, and his music teacher Mr. Imler.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Things that go bump in the night...and day and midafternoon

Chance is hearing things. I mean, he has been hearing things for many years now for which we are very grateful. Lately though, he has been hearing eerie things that make him highly nervous. He has come to me several times and told me that he hears footsteps, knocking or other random noises from our basement. This sort of thing gets to a kid. I have tried to figure out what he is hearing. The basement is mostly unfinished and part of the house upstairs has wood floors so the noise carries. I had Chance go downstairs and then I ran across the wood floor and back to see if that is what he is hearing.

It wasn't.

I have gone down to check out the noises when he hears them, but the noise is gone by the time I get there.

The mystery is, what is Chance hearing? We have been in this house for several years so one would think that all of the basic daily noises such as walking across the wood floor, or the dishwasher draining, would be noises that Chance has acclimated to.

I don't want Chance to be scared that someone is in the house which he has expressed as a possibility. We have bunnies that live downstairs and sometimes they make a ruckus in their cages, but again, we have had the bunnies for years so one would think Chance would be used to those noises.

Today, Chance's friend was over and apparently they both heard the noises but when I went down to check out what they were hearing, I heard nothing. Twice.

It is a mystery. In the mean time, I noticed that the last time Chance went downstairs with his friend, he was carrying his pellet gun down by his side like policemen do in movies as they search an area for a bad guy. Normally we do not let the boys carry their pellet guns around the house and Chance is quite compliant with this rule. I think he just wanted to feel armed in case the noise was attached to a bad guy.

We need to figure this mystery out so that Chance can feel secure in his own home.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Tower of Terror

Chance and his Mom (along with sister, far left, and brother, far right) try to save his implants.
I believe this photo right here, best describes the thoughts of Chance and me as we lunged downward in our Tower of Terror elevator. Who knew that the ride had a camera taking pictures and who could have planned for the camera to snap just as Chance's implant started to come off? Talk about perfect timing! We weren't familiar with the ride and were not sure if we should take the implants off or not. Turns out, we should have:) The implants took care of the problem themselves somewhat when one of them swung off and while Chance and I both watched in nervous anticipation landed a short distance ahead of us. It was added stomach butterflies to an already thrilling ride. Thankfully, we were able to reach the implant before the ride lurched downward again. The ride was great fun and after the implants were safely padded in my pocket, trouble free.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Living life on the edge

There are those extreme people who like to live life on the edge. They scale mountains without using harnesses, they bungee jump off of the world's tallest bridges and they zoom through the darkness of the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland not being able to see or hear, reaching speeds of 55 miles per hour. What a thrill! Talk about living on the edge.

Well, our Chance is one of those thrill seekers. During our recent trip to Disneyland, due to the fact that we have never assessed at exactly what speed will cause the implants to let go of the magnet and fly off of Chance's head, Chance takes them off when going on roller coasters. Space Mountain is unique because you are hurling through outer space which as everyone knows is extremely dark except for a few dimpled lights provided by stars.
Chance (waving) and his brother get ready for "Blast Off" on California Screamin' Roller Coaster at California Adventure Park

I was curious to see how all of our kids liked the ride, but especially Chance who rode through the dark in silence with out hearing the nifty music or commands from mission control. Not even the screeches from other riders who give a clue as to impending dips or staggering heights on the tracks.

He loved it.

Maybe we can get him a nifty headband to hold them on, but then the microphones would be covered anyway so would that defeat the purpose?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Chance sings a solo

Chance tried out for a solo part today in music class. If you wanted a solo part, you stood up in front of the class and sang a song while the whole class listened. Quite an act of bravery I would say at age 10. Heck, that is an act of bravery at ages 7-103. Singing in front of people takes courage and confidence.
Chance got up and started to sing, and then some of the students started to laugh at him. I don't know that Chance would have told us about this incident, but the chorus teacher at the school is also Chance's guitar teacher and he told Chance's dad when we took the boys for their guitar lessons.
The teacher told the laughing students that they were being rude and and he would not tolerate it in class and that everyone was to be treated with respect. (In his words, he "came unglued!!!") Chance told us that one of the boys came over and apologized after class.
Our little Chance's confidence was a little shattered and so I went in to do some damage control.
First off, I explained to Chance that he was incredibly brave to stand up and sing in front of the class and that his dad and I were proud of him.
Then I told him that I didn't know why, but some kids are just mean and rude. They make fun of kids who don't shoot the basketball that well (Chance is a good shot and plays the game,"Speed", at recess), or kids who don't wear clothes that they like or kids who are different than them. I told him that even adults have people who are rude to them sometimes. And sometimes, kids don't realize that they are being mean.
I told him that we just have to ignore those people who laugh, and that while it can hurt our feelings when they make fun of us, to try not to worry about those few kids. There are many many more people who are not laughing and we can't let the few who are stop us from doing the things we want to do.
I acknowledged that it was hurtful that those kids were rude and laughed, but that most of the class was not laughing. Then I told Chance about the time when I was in school and I went to try out for a part in a play and I sat in the back of the room watching other kids try out in front of an audience and then I chickened out and I never tried.
"You did?" Chance asked surprised.
Then I told him,"Chance, it takes courage to stand up and sing in front of the class, and if you want to sing a solo later in the school year, I think you should get up and try out again."
Chance took this in for a minute and kind of slowly shook his head.
I think he will try out again if it is something he wants to do. I hope that is the case because I don't want him to loose his confidence. I also don't want him to get a complex about performing in front of people. He may have kids that laugh at him due to the fact that it takes him longer to learn a song and sing right on key. I want him to have the confidence to go forward anyway. These kids have no idea what a miracle Chance's hearing is and how much harder he has to work than they do to sing. I want him to be able to get past those negative kids and press forward. Chance can sing, and he is getting better and taking lessons to teach him to hear the differences in the notes and then translate that into his singing voice. And he can do it. He'll have to learn to block out the naysayers who always seem to show up.
We have been very blessed in the fact that Chance has not had a lot of ridicule from other kids due to his deafness. I don't want him to acquire a complex about it now. I'm not even sure he equates his deafness to the laughing kids. I just want him to be able to dim the noise of the naysayers and go forward to where he wants to be.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Constrained to the back of the van

After pulling into the garage after driving carpool, I heard Chance say to his little brother, "You have to get my implant back."

"Why does he have to get your implant back?" I asked.

"Because he took it and put it somewhere in the van," Chance replied, remarkably calm about the whole situation.

So I turned to my youngest son and asked,"Where is the implant?"

"Back there." He said pointing to the back of the van.

"Back there where?" I asked.

He shrugged.

"I think it is in the very back of the van." Chance replied.

Unfortunately the very back of our van which usually only has a stroller in it, had a box to go the thrift store and several play items which had not yet been removed after a week end family get together.

The search began with my youngest son at my side after I told him that he was not allowed to go into the house until we found the implant.

Chance soon joined us but we found that flat little implants can hide really well. Maybe getting a bland beige color so that it would blend in with Chance's hair better was not a good idea. Maybe we should have gone for neon green or something.

I started to imagine the reaction of the thrift workers as they came across the implant in the donated box:  "Bob, Look! I found a CIA earpiece in this here box!"

Finally, the implant was located in the bed of the stroller where it had slid down and was only visible if you actually unfolded the stroller.

Problem solved. After Chance's little brother spend a little time in his bedroom, gave Chance a big hug and promised never to do that again.:)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Let the questions begin!

I found myself in the lunchroom at Chance's school sitting in the middle of a table with several kids who had questions about Chance's deafness.
I had gone up to the school to help out in the writing class like I do each week, and Chance and I had eaten lunch together. I had to go to the office to take care of some things, so I sent Chance out to enjoy recess with his friends while I finished eating.
I noticed little kids around me looking at me so I said hello and asked them how they were doing. Then the questions started.
"You're Chance's mom huh?"
"Is Chance deaf or is he hard of hearing?"
"Was Chance born deaf?"

I explained that Chance was deaf and that they think his deafness was caused by a virus he caught when he was about 13 months old.

"What is a virus?" One of the boys wanted to know.

I explained the best I could what a virus was and how sometimes if a virus gets into our bodies it can make us sick.

"That DOES happen." One little boy turned and said to the others while nodding his head and looking very serious.

I have found that kids are very accepting of Chance's deafness, they are just curious about it which I think is great. I don't mind questions or conversations about Chance and his deafness. I am curious about things I see around me that I don't know much about too.

"I'm here every week so if you have any more questions let me know." I said.

"You're here on Wednesdays?" One boy asked.

When I replied in the affirmative, he nodded and got up to take his tray to the lunchroom.

So I wonder what we'll all talk about next week?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm dreaming of good vibrations...

It was a dark and coldish night. Two people lay on the living room floor where they have dozed off. Suddenly, an unfamiliar noise rips through the house originating in the hall threatening to wake up all of the sleeping children in the bedrooms.
It is a rattling, no wait, banging, no wait, metallic kind of noise. Is it a machine gun? Is is a window being pelted by BB'S or rocks? Furthermore, where in the world is the noise coming from? Is someone with intent to do harm outside trying to flush us out or are they just going to storm the house?
After some searching, we realized the noise was coming from a metallic case in the hall. One of those money cash boxes with a handle. Do we want to open it to see what is inside? It could be dangerous. However, when faced with being maimed by an unknown force or having all 5 children awake in the wee hours of the night, it was an easy call to make. Open the case.
After bringing the case out into the living room and being now fully awake, the case was opened.
Uncertainty is now replaced by laughter.
Chance's vibrating alarm clock had been put into our metal cash box that the kids use when they are playing.
I do not recommend putting your vibrating alarm clock inside a metal box. Although it will wake up those who can hear it, it may also cause a heart attack if exposure is prolonged while coming out of a deep sleep. It may also possibly work to wake the dead.  (However, it would still prove useless to those for whom it was bought - Chance would still sleep right through it)

The vibrating alarm clock may have been bought with Chance specifically in mind but it's vibrations did a great job of waking up his parents. Job well done.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The hat

Chance got a new hat and he really really likes it. It is colorful and has flaps that hang down past his ears. Covering them.
Chance sometimes forgets that he is deaf and that wearing hats with flaps that cover his ears can impede hearing.
He looks really cute in the hat and I can understand why he would want to keep his head toasty here in the wintry wonderland that is our landscape some days.
He thinks he is hearing everything as usual. The irony of being deaf is, you don't know when you are missing out on things sometimes BECAUSE you can't hear what you are missing:)
So while Chance walks around looking all cute in his hat, he is not hearing as well as he does with out the hat.
If you ask him though, he will insist that he is hearing just fine.
This has been a theme for Chance this winter. He keeps his coat on and his hat over his ears when he enters school.
He wears a hoodie with the hat up to cub scouts.
At home, he likes to wear his hat with the flaps.
Hats are where it is at for Chance.
He just needs to realize that all of these hats impede his hearing when he keeps them on during school and scouts etc.:)
With spring on the way, maybe we can help Chance fall in love with a baseball cap type hat. Those leave the ears out and uncovered so the implant microphone is able to do its thing(namely catching sound) the best it can.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sharing a splitter

We just got back from a great family vacation to Southern California where we took in Disneyland, Sea World and went whale watching. Unfortunately, the whales were not aware that they were supposed to make an appearance but we got to see dolphins and sea lions swimming alongside our boat instead. We did get free tickets to go back and watch the whales so we'll just have to plan another vacation to watch the whales :)

During our 12 hour drive we set up a movie screen for the kids to watch while we traversed across the desert. We don't have one of those fancy screens that just gently descends out of the ceiling of the van, we instead have a DVD unit with two screens and we strap them to the back of the seats so each row can see the movie. In the past, we've had some problems with all of the kids hearing the sound, so we bought some splitters that allowed two kids to plug into each unit using headphones. Chance shared a cord with his older brother.

As we were crossing the desert and coming into the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, we were explaining some of the sights. We explained how the Eiffel Tower was a replica of the one in France. We pointed out the Pyramid, and Treasure Island that had a boat that reenacted a battle. We had been giving commentary for a good 10 minutes, when Chance's brother in the back seat yells up to us something like,"Hey! Look at that cool hotel that looks like the Eiffel Tower! And what is that castle right there?"

I turned around in my seat and said,"That's what we've been talking about for the past 10 minutes and then teasingly I asked,"Were you not listening to your parents?"

Chance's brother looked at me, then took his headphones off and said,"What?"

"We've been talking to you about these sights for the past while. " I said.

"SORRY!" He exhaled. "Chance has had the volume on so loud that I think I may be deaf now!"

Chance was blissfully unaware that things were apparently really really loud when you could hear.

"You have to tell him when that happens because he doesn't know. It is not loud for him." I explained.

After that, we didn't hear any more complaints about the volume. Chance just had no idea that it was that loud. That is what happens when you are deaf and listening to a movie through a NoizFree device (it's similar to earphones, but it sends a telecoil/radio signal to the implant as opposed to earphones that send the sound through the ear canal).

Apparently you have to tell Chance when the volume is too loud when you share a splitter with him:)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Battle Still Continues

The state school board is no longer considering dissolving the School for the Deaf and the Blind during this legislative session and instead is going to open an investigation to look at the inner workings of USDB (Utah School for the Deaf and Blind).

This is good news for the immediate future of the school. Hopefully, upon investigation, the school board will realize that cutting the School for the Deaf and Blind will only add more monetary needs to the state budget if the services currently provided by the school are expected to be dispersed out to all of the different school districts throughout the state that have deaf children. Not to mention who will have oversight over the services the deaf kids would receive through the district. Not just the oversight of their education but the oversight of their specific needs as deaf children. Without someone who knows the needs and the process it takes to learn to hear with a hearing aid or implant, and can guide that process, the kids will still be short changed regardless of what the district offers through a piecemeal system of speech therapy etc.
So now is the time for parents of deaf children and deaf adults to let the school board know just what the services provided from the School for the Deaf and Blind have made possible for kids and adults alike.

Chance is mainstreamed and academically at the top of many of his classes due in part to the services he received through the School for the Deaf and Blind. Chance was able to get what he needed to become successful. I honesty can not imagine what it would be like now if Chance had not received what he needed early on in school in the way that he needed to receive it.

One element of this battle over the function of the School for the Deaf is the friction that is present due to the two different philosophies over how to educate deaf children. Unless you have knowledge of this battle or are "baptized by fire" into the battle by having a deaf child and searching out services that they need, it is hard to imagine.

The school board has heard complaints about the School for the Deaf and some of those complaints revolve around how one feels deaf children should be educated. The debate has been playing out in the opinion sections of our two main newspapers. Some opinions have been more fair and balanced than others.

I appreciate the fact that we as the parents of deaf kids may choose different methods to communicate and educate our children. That is a right that every parent should be afforded.

I do have a problem though when it implied or just out right stated that we parents who have chosen the oral/speech route for our children do it because it is easier for us and not best for our children.

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune titled,"Schools for the Deaf Grapple With Two Tracks," talks about the basically two tracks to teach deaf kids to communicate. A deaf adult who teaches deaf children at a mainly signing schools asks,"How do parents know which language the child needs?" The context of this question is based on the process that parents go through when their child is diagnosed. Changes have been made to ensure that when a child is diagnosed, the family receives a visit from both a deaf adult who signs and a deaf adult who listens and speaks. After some exposure to both routes by the visitors and other contact by professionals, a family is asked to choose which path they would like to follow. You aren't married to that choice. If you start on one path and realize that it is not working, you can switch over and follow another path. The point is to get language into these little kiddos pronto. No matter which way you choose, a language has to be learned. Sign language is not something you will just pick up if you are not surrounded by signing people in your family. And if a family chooses sign, the whole family needs to be involved in learning to sign.

If a child is learning to listen and speak, they will need help with that route as they are fitted with hearing aids or implanted with cochlear implants. And there is a language window when it is better for children to learn to speak. Hearing kids are learning to speak from the day they are born as they hear sounds and learn words. Kids who are implanted early, join their peers in mainstream classrooms earlier and generally speaking are extremely successful with an implant.

When Chance was diagnosed, we were exposed to a deaf adult who signs and that is all. We had to actively seek out the other option of speaking and listening. Frankly, our main concern was only for Chance. We even looked at enrolling at a neighboring university to major in sign language. We took sign classes...all of us. Speaking and listening was right for Chance and it was not decided on a whim. As far as the question of "How do parents know which language the child needs?" Could that not go both ways? And as parents we are precisely the ones who know what our children need. That is our job as parents to seek out what our children need and provide the best we can.

The argument was made by this same person in the article that she supported choice, but that it should be the child's choice and that parents often chose listening and speaking for their children because it is convenient for them.

Um, being brutally honest here, nothing about teaching a deaf child to communicate is convenient. Convenient is your hearing children who learn to speak just by living with you. You don't even have to give it a second thought, it just happens as you are going about your days. This argument does not seem to be brought up when it involves signing deaf parents who choose to teach their deaf child to sign. If parents who choose speech and listening are questioned with, "How do parents know which language the child needs," could not signing parents be asked the same thing? The problem is the second guessing of parents by others at all.

There is a lot of commitment involved regardless of which method you choose to teach your deaf child to communicate with. Convenience is not what motivates parents. Being a parent is rarely about what is convenient for the parent. Giving all within your power to give your child what they needs is usually what motivates parents. To imply that parents who choose to teach their child speaking and listening are somehow selfish, and would be willing to short change their child just for convenience, is not only grossly unfounded, but very mean spirited.

The School for the Deaf should be able to operate with the two methods to teach deaf children together. Parents who choose sign should be respected and supported in what they need just as parents who choose listening and speaking parents should be respected and supported. It does not have to be a war. There is no right or wrong here, there is only CHOICE. And parents are entitled to choose what is best for their child without judgement.