Sunday, June 24, 2012

One of Chance's favorite new pastimes

We have added a deck onto our house.  This deck has been in the plans for years but we are just now getting it done.  It was one of those things we were going to add to our yard when we first moved in, but then Chance was diagnosed as being deaf, insurance did not pay for anything and so any money planned for our  yard went to help buy hearing aids and pay medical expenses.

It has been worth it.  Our neighbors have beautiful finished yards, we have two cochlear implants and a boy that can hear.

The other day, Chance walked into the house and said,"I love our new deck.  I like to just go lay on it and listen to the birds in the trees with my eyes shut."

Chance and his Mom enjoy a laugh on the new deck on Mother's Day
He likes to listen to the birds in the trees.   Our yard may not be perfect, but our son can hear the birds in the trees.

Life is good.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Bike Trip Report

Chance's brother made it!  He biked 314+ miles, starting at our driveway, and ending up with the front tire of his bike literally in Lake Powell at the end.

He experienced everything he was supposed to on this trip.  He strengthened his friendships with the boys in his troop as they all realized that they needed each other to finish.  The boys each took turns riding up front and creating a "draft" for the boys behind to ride in to ease their burden for a bit.  Then, when the boy in front got too tired to continue to lead, he would swing out, and come back in behind and another boy would help to create a draft.

The heat was intense out there on the asphalt and at times, boys were registering temperatures of 112 on their bike thermometers.   The water they had was instantly hot as soon as they had it on the bike for 5 minutes so it was hard to want to drink enough of it.

The boys learned that they could do hard things and push themselves to limits they did not know they possessed.

The boys had nightly "firesides" (a cultural term meaning something long the lines of evening devotionals) that made them think and grow spiritually, or perhaps helped them to identify personal and spiritual growth they had made.

The boys learned to rely on God to help them through.  After the last day of riding, during their evening fireside, one of the leaders asked the boys how many of them had been praying at least every couple of hours for aid to help them through.  Almost every boy raised their hands.

One of my favorite parts was when Chance's brother told us how he had a lot of time to think while out there riding for hours on his bike.  He looked around and marveled at all of the beautiful creations he passed (you notice a lot more working on a bike than in a car), and thought about how much God loved us all and how many wonderful things he had created for us to enjoy.  He passed gorgeous rocks in Capitol Reef National Park, dead zones of no discernible life in stretches and colonies of abounding prairie dogs in others.   

The boys all got to play in Lake Powell for a day-and-a-half after arriving and went boating and tubing.

It was an exhilarated and proud (and exhausted) group of boys that pulled up in a maroon suburban yesterday afternoon.  My son was practically glowing.  He had made it.

Interestingly enough,  even though the boys all had at least two biking shirts for the trip, the morning of the second day one of the leaders told them all just to wear the yellow Cochlear jerseys.  The bright color made it easy to spot each other when the boys fanned out to ride.  Some stretches had boys a few miles apart...the faster riders moving up front, and the second group cruising along behind.  A support vehicle was near each group in case  of a problem,  but the shirts helped the boys see each other and keep tabs on where everyone was, as well as making them much more visible to passing cars, and the many many passing 18-wheelers.  My son said sometimes you could see riders ahead or behind you for miles in those Cochlear shirts.

The ride was everything is was supposed to be.  Chance's brother pushed himself and found he could accomplish great things.  He also rode for Chance and cochlear implant awareness.

Way to go!  We are proud of him!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The love of a brother

Right now, Chance's brother is sleeping outside, gearing up for his 4th and final day of a 314 mile bike trip across the state of Utah.

This venture has been planned and anticipated for a long time now, with months of training rides and miles upon miles of riding through our county.

The 14 and 15 year old boys  in Chance's brothers scout troop have an annual week long "high adventure" camp  of some kind each year, and this summer the bike ride is that camp.

Sometime during all of this planning and training, Chance's brother thought it would be a great opportunity to raise awareness for cochlear implants and highlight how well Chance's implants have helped him.

On his own, Chance's brother contacted Cochlear Americas and asked if they would be interested in sponsoring his scout troop with riding jerseys on their ride to help raise awareness.

I'll be honest, we as his parents were skeptical.  We told him that Cochlear may not do that sort of thing.
It was not long before Chance's brother came to us to show us the email that stated Cochlear America's would indeed donate jerseys for  the ride.


What a great company.

The boys look sharp in their biking shirts and it helps them feel like they are part of something special. It also grabs the attention of those passing the boys on their trek.

It is not an easy undertaking.  The boys have ridden as much as 104 miles in a day.  One day had an almost 4,000 foot vertical climb.  But they are making it.  It is an incredible feat and the boys are learning that they can do really hard things and push themselves to their limits.

I can not wait to hear how incredible these boys feel after accomplishing their goal of biking 314 miles in four days.

There have been questions asked about implants at rest stops along the way and Chance's brother knows just what he'll say when asked about implants.  It goes something like this:

"Implants have helped my brother who is my best friend to hear and do anything he wants to do."

Chance's brother loves him and has always been his greatest advocate during his hearing journey.  We are proud of him for thinking of his brother Chance and following through with getting the biking jerseys and helping to raise awareness about cochlear implants.

Chance followed in the support vehicle the first day and even stood on corners pointing the way for the riders in his Cochlear jersey.

What a life affirming experience.

What a company to sponsor the event.

What a brother who loves and supports his brother.

Here's a Link to official press release

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Chance's Scholastic Progress Over the Years

Someone asked in the comments section of my blog how long it took Chance to catch up once he got the implants.

He got both implants the year he turned 6.  One in May, three days before he turned 6, and the other in September of the same year.  They were each activated about 4 weeks after the respective surgery.

His school teacher said she noticed a difference right away.  She said that Chance was always attentive and participated, but during circle time after the implants, he didn't have to try so hard to hear.  She said it was great to watch him just flourish with out having to concentrate so hard on hearing.

Here on some observations and test results from before and after the implants.

2005.....An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for 2005(age 5), the year before Chance was implanted, said the following:  (for receptive language)
On the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test which assessed for receptive single word vocabulary Chance scored a 67 the age equivalence of 2 years and 7 months.
On the OWLS  Chance's standard score was 67 with an age equivalence of 2 years and 9 months.

His IEP stated that Chance was delayed in his overall expressive language skills which affects his progress in the general curriculum.

For expressive language:

On Expressive One Word Picture Vocabulary Test score of 69 age equivalent of 3 years old.
On the OWLS 59 with an age equivalent of 2 years and 2 months.

His listening goals were to move from following simple 2 step directions in the classroom to 4--5 word phrases.

His IEP stated that:"Chance is able to stay on topic but has difficulty formulating answers to questions and responding to common expressions.

Chance had not heard for 2 years before we realized he was deaf and it was standard for him to score two years behind when testing.

2007.......Towards the end of Chance's 2007 school year when he was 7 and had been implanted in one ear for 1 year and four months and in the other ear one year.

On the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (receptive), Chance scored at the equivalency of 5 years and 5 months.  Almost a 3 year gain in 2 years.

Some of Chance's goals from this time state that he will,"demonstrate an ability to follow specified directions and sequence events."

Chance went back and forth between the School for the Deaf satellite school and was mainstreamed into a class with his peers at this point.  His mainstream teacher noted that she could understand Chance most of the time.

We also saw big improvements at home with what Chance was hearing and his expression of feelings and wants etc.

2008.........Peabody raw score of 102 age equivalency of 6 years and 1 month.

On Listening comprehension(receptive language) he scored 93 age equivalency of 7 years and 6 months.

On Oral expression his standard score was 97 -age equivalency of 8 years old which he was at the time.

His overall score on the OWLS was 94 age equivalency of 7 years and 9 months......about 8 months behind at this time.  He jumped from being 2 years behind.

His broad reading score was 106 - age equivalent of 9 years old.
His broad math score was 103 - age equivalent of 8 years 7 months
His broad written language was 108 - age equivalent of 8 years and 11 months

Word identification was 115 - age equivalent of 10 years 4 months

Story recall was 118 - age equivalent of 14 years 8 months

Understanding directions was 114 - age eqivalent of 11 years 6 months

Needles to say, this was a year of very excting news for us.

Chance excelled grammatically in using language but showed weakness in semantics and pragmatics and a lack of understanding of the item task.  Chance would say,'I don't know what you mean." when he came to an item he did not understand.

It was advised that Chance should receive instruction in passage comprehension as this was an area of weakness.

2010....Chance scored in the average range for his age on the Woodcock Johnson test and moderately low range for vocabulary such as nouns and verbs.  Chance struggled with sequencing events.

Chance scored well above average on the school reading test given to all students this year.

2011....The IEP stated,"Chance is a very motivated student who learns quickly and enjoys new challenges.  He has mastered his listening and language goals in a structured setting, and has demonstrated skills in language pragmatics and critical thinking.

Peabody Picture Vocabulary test score is 104 with an age equivalency of 12 years and 5 months.(Chance is 11)

On the OWLS (Oral and Written Language Scales) which measure his understanding and use of spoken language, Chance scored a 107 on the Listening Comprehension scale with a test age equivalency of 13 years and 3 months.
He achieved a 110 on the Oral Expression scale with a test age equivalency of 14 years old.
Chance is 11 at this time.

Chance's IEP stated that he needs to work on vocabulary and grade level language usage.
This is just to help tweak a few things before he hits junior high.

Chance also scores well above average on reading and math this year in school.

2012.....Chance's end of year testing has come in and we were given the results with along with his grades.
Chance's school used the Northwest Evaluation Association testing.  The test covers three main subjects, general science, mathematics and language arts.
The test grades by levels.  Level 1, is low and below average.  Level 2, is still considered below average, Level 3 is the average range and Level 4 is above average and is considered highly proficent in that subject.
Chance scored in the level 3 range is all three subjects.  I don't know how the percentage points work on this test, but Chance is at the high end in the level 3 group and only one or two points off from being in the level 4 range.

So, there is the long answer on how long it took Chance to catch up to his peers after he received his implants.
He scored about two years behind for several years which goes along with the fact that he didn;t hear for two years.
After he got  the implants, he started closing that gap and after a few years(age 8), he had moved up to  being only  a bit behind and in some areas like story recall, he scored at an age of 14 years 8 months.

It has been a journey and it has taken a lot of work from Chance himself, his teachers and us as parents, but Chance has closed the gap and now with the exception of some phrasing in writing and some vocaulary, he is at least up with his peers and in some ways ahead of them.

We are very thankful.  

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Chance's week

Summer has officially started for Chance and the magic hangs in the air of all the possibilities of the next three months.
By a fluke of timing, Chance starts every sport he will play this summer this week.  He will start with swim team from 6:30 to 8:15 every week day morning with swim meets on Saturdays.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays of this week, Chance will start tennis at 10:30 until 11:30.
Then, the soccer camp that we signed up for runs Monday through Friday of this week from 12:00 to 3:00.
Friday night into Saturday, Chance will have his first camp out as a 12 year old scout hiking in 5 miles up a canyon to camp at the top.  Then of course there will be the 5 miles down the canyon to come home.

I've got  to make sure Chance is getting enough water:)
Chance's summer will not be this booked each week,  the first week in June just happens to be when many things start all at the same time.
Chance has not been going to bed until quite late these past few weeks with cousins visiting etc.  I think this week full of physical exertion should take care of that problem naturally.
The second week of summer should find Chance with more time to day dream and play with friends.  There will always be that 6:30 calling card each morning though for swim team, but he loves it and he is quite a good little swimmer.

By the way, I have been asked how long it took Chance to catch up to his peers after he got the implants.  I have been going back through his tests and IEPS to see how long it took him to officially  catch up and I will post that next time.