Monday, January 24, 2011

That explains a lot.....

It is the end of term at school and all of the assignments are due. The writing teacher let the kids look at their progress report in the middle of the week so they could make up any assignments that may be missing.

Chance was missing 3 sets of journal entries which totals 15 pages total. And he got zeros on every spelling test.


So Chance spent a pleasant if not slightly annoying night at the kitchen table writing. And writing. And writing.

Chance was adamant that he had done the work and I felt for him, but as I told him,"If the teacher has no record of it, you have to do it again."

And after all of that work, Chance came home on Friday with all of the pages still in his binder because he forgot to turn them in.

Naturally, I was annoyed that all of that work might go for naught, so I drove him back up to the school to turn the papers in so he could get credit for his work. Chance explained to me that he had therapy every Friday during writing and that is why he forgot to turn his work in. That made sense. If he he didn't attend class, it would be easy to forget to turn in the work.

We met his teacher in the hall as she was coming out of faculty meeting.

As we were talking, the teacher mentioned that Chance was marked absent in writing that day. I told her that he was in therapy and that is why he forgot to turn in his work.

His teacher paused and then asked,"Does Chance have therapy every Friday?"

When I explained that he did his teacher responded,"Friday is when we call for the journal entries and take the spelling tests. Chance probably didn't have any idea that we were calling for journal entries."
It was a moment when a light bulb went on for both of us. Chance's missing assignments were due to the fact that Chance was never in class when they were called for. We were scratching our heads at home trying to figure out why our very conscientious and driven Chance would be missing so many assignments. It would also explain why we could find several journal entries in Chance's various notebooks yet they had not been turned in.

The writing teacher explained that each Friday, the writing teachers took turns teaching the lessons so each teacher only taught every 3rd Friday so no one had realized that Chance was gone each Friday.
WHEW! This explained a lot.

Chance was adamant that he had been doing the assignments and seemed genuinely confused as to why he had so many zeros on his progress report.

So, now we can work on the logistics of letting Chance turn in his assignments on Mondays (after having time to make up Friday's journal), so he is getting credit. Also, we can arrange for Chance to take the spelling tests on another day.

Spelling is one of Chance's strongest points which has always amazed me since he spent several years not hearing the words he spells. He can spell words he doesn't even know the meaning of. Due to this fact, I told the teacher that Chance could probably take the missing spelling tests right then which he did. 100 percent as I expected.

So, the moral of this story is, we need to communicate with the proper teachers and therapist so that everyone knows what the schedule is and so Chance does not go crazy wondering what in the world the expectations are :)

The gift of spelling

Chance has a gift. He can spell. I mean really really spell. Some people are just good at spelling and Chance is one of them. I remember reading once that good spellers are ALWAYS good readers - the two go hand in hand. Chance does love to read. Sometimes way later than he should, in fact. He'll get engrossed in a book and read in bed long after he should be sleeping.

What amazes me about Chance's spelling though, is that Chance has not heard the words all of his life like I have. He could not sound them out in kindergarten the way that I did because Chance wasn't hearing the subtle sounds in all of the words. For many years Chance wasn't hearing all of the subtle syllables of many words. Yet, here he is an incredible speller. He can spell words he doesn't know the meaning of. He'll spell the word perfectly than turn to me and ask,"What does that word mean?"

Since Chance has therapy every Friday and thus misses the spelling tests, the teacher and I were discussing what we could do to help Chance earn points for the tests he misses. She wondered if she should just exempt Chance from the last two spelling tests since he was in speech therapy and the term was now over. I told her that one day when she was sick and there was a substitute, the teacher had passed out a list of several hard words for the kids and had them test each other and then write down the words they missed to practice. Chance missed two words out of at least 50 words. Some of the words he spelled correctly and then turned to me and asked,"What does that word mean?"

In a bold display of confidence in my boy, I told the teacher that she could probably give Chance the spelling test right then and he would do O.K. So, that is what she had me do. While she was in the corner of the room gathering papers, I administered a spelling test to Chance. He aced it with 100 percent.

Good heavens. How do you become an expert speller when you are deaf? I heard words just fine in school, yet I didn't always get them right. Even when I slowly repeated the words in my head or whispered them to myself as I sounded them out, "annoying" or whatever the word may have been.

Yet Chance who doesn't have the experience with hearing words that I do, can spell like a pro. It is an amazing phenomenon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The love of a brother

Chance has had a steady and passionately devoted right hand man as he has traveled this path of deafness.

When Chance was first diagnosed, there were some friends of his brothers in the neighborhood who would complain and run away when Chance would come to join them in play. Chance's brother told them that if Chance didn't play, then he didn't either.

This past year at school, some girls were constantly hitting and poking Chance's brother. It was all supposed to be fun and games but Chance's brother did not really like it. He endured it. One day these girls decided to start doing the same thing to Chance. His brother stood up and said,"Nobody hits my brother!"

When Chance was first diagnosed and entered preschool through the "School for the Deaf," Chance was traumatized and cried and cried when I dropped him off each day. I would watch through the two way mirror heartbroken as my baby struggled. The school asked me if Chance had ever been away from home for a night. I told him he had not. "No weekends away with grandma or grandpa?" they asked. I replied that he had had no such weekend. I had a new baby that prohibited me from staying at the school for long and it was devastating to see how Chance struggled. His world had been turned upside down seemingly overnight. Chance was having multiple tests done to check his hearing, he had just received hearing aids and now he was thrown into a world with lots of people that he had never seen before. Plus he was going through the summer when other kids his age were at home playing.

Chance and his brother dressed up for Halloween

Enter Chance's brother who volunteered to attend the older class in the same building as a model for language (kids who hear normally and can model language for the little deaf children). Chance and his brother did not attend the same classes, but they saw each other at recess and during lunch. The teachers told me Chance would run to his brother when it was lunch time and his brother would take him under his wing and help him feel secure.

This meant that Chance's brother was also missing out on summer playing but he never complained once.

When Chance signed up to sing in the Alexander Graham Bell Association's Speech Fair last year, it became apparent that though Chance knew the song quite well, it was a difficult song with many shifts and he had a hard time staying on tune during some parts. Chance's brother who was in chorus with Chance volunteered to go up on stage and sing with Chance. He sang real soft, just enough so that Chance could stay on tune. Chance's brother knew it was Chance's moment to shine and simply stood back and smiled as the applause came in after the performance.

Chance's brother has always made sure that in settings with large groups etc. that Chance was part of things and knew what was going on. A neighbor who used to watch the kids while I had appointments etc. said that she was so impressed with how Chance's brother and sister looked out for Chance to make sure that he knew when they were being offered snacks or knew what was going on in the game etc. She said that you could see the love between them.

This past year Chance has been in a school that is a little different than most schools for kids Chance's age. Instead of being in one class all day, Chance rotates through several different classes with different teachers in each class. It is the first year this school has been open and there have been lots of changes and adjustments to be made during the first several months as things get going.

Chance has struggled some with all of the changes. Enter his brother once again. Staff at the school worked out a deal with Chance that if he attended each class he earned points that he could redeem for a little time during the afternoon with.....his brother.

Chance has been a little trooper and forged ahead in an astounding way through his deafness. He has had a most devoted ally during the process in his brother and it has been a great blessing to both of them and a wondrous thing to watch as a parent.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Chance learning the guitar

Chance's guitar lessons are coming along quite well. As an added bonus, he is learning the words and tunes to many new songs and learning to keep time as he plays.