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.