Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chance's classmates ask all sorts for questions

Talking to the kids at Chance's school went really well.  The kids had already learned a bit about the Deaf Community and sign language.  It was a good experience for all of us I think. We explained why we decided to get implants for Chance and our experience.  We also talked touched on philosophical differences between the Deaf Community and those who want deaf children to learn to hear and talk.  It was an interesting discussion.  I believe everyone should do what they feel is best for their family and no one should feel that attacked for their decision.

The kids asked some really good questions about how the implants worked, and if Chance heard things in monotone through the implant.

Chance's dad and I talked to the class for about an hour and 20 minutes and then we had Chance come in to answer questions.  Chance is good to do this kind of stuff.  It does not phase him and he is always so generous to answer questions about his implants and what it is like to wear them.

One of the boys said that he wondered what it was that Chance had on his head, but didn't know if it was appropriate to ask.  Then one day Chance said hi to him in the hall and introduced himself and after that, he didn't even notice the implants.  Chance was just Chance a kid he said hi to in the hall.

The teacher had the same concern about whether it was considered appropriate to ask questions when you see someone with something like implants on.  I can't speak for other people, but I told them that I always welcomed questions as Chance was growing up.  I figured that I would be curious if I didn't know what implants were and I saw someone wearing them.  I could see myself trying to figure out if they were special hearing aids or something.  It is natural to be curious.  I knew some other moms of deaf kids that got really bothered if people stared at their kids implants.  I usually smiled at people if I saw them staring and several times people would approach me and ask what they were.  Once I told them they were like,'Oh, OK".  Most of them thought implants were pretty cool once I explained what they did and how they helped Chance to hear.

I found kids to be wonderful most of the time too.  Many times kids are more open in their questions as they don;t have that sense of worrying about if it is appropriate to ask about them.  They are just curious.  I will always remember a group of kids in Arizona while we were on vacation.  We went to pick up my niece from school and the kids at lunch gathered around us as we sat down and started asking questions about the implants.  Once we explained that just like some of them used glasses to see, Chance used implants to hear, they were satisfied.  They asked a few more questions like how they stayed on his head etc. but there was no malice in them.  They just wanted to know.

Chance told his classmates what it was like to wear implants and one of the things he brought up was how nice it was to be able to tune the world out at night.  Everyone envied Chance his ability to do that.  He made his classmates laugh by telling them about how he took his implants off once in an argument with his brother about an airsoft gun.  Many of the kids expressed how awesome it would be to be able to tune out siblings during disagreements etc.  We actually don't encourage this method of coping as a family for obvious reasons.  Chance can not just tune out when he doesn't like what is going on. He hasn't actually done that for a while now.

Chance answered questions and let the kids see where the magnets attached the implant to his head.  He also showed them how is implant would attach to the door frame as well.  They all loved that.

We got many thank yous after the presentation.  I think we all benefited from learning about Chance and hearing loss in general.  We showed the kids a video of the Flintstones where you can experience a little bit what it is like to have mild hearing loss, moderate hearing loss, severe hearing loss and a profound loss.  That clip really helped the kids to see that having hearing loss is not just about making sounds louder.  The more severer your loss is, the more muffled the sounds become as well as getting quieter.

It was a fun experience and the kids were very respectful and thoughtful in their questions. Oh and now the kids all know that Chance can read lips really really well.  One of the girls asked Chance if he could read lips across the room.  Chance answered that he could sometimes.  The girls giggled.  I think I helped to give away Chance's superpower of reading the lips of girls to see what they are talking about.  All of the girls were older and in high school so maybe they won't pass that information down to the girls that are Chance's age:)

One of the girls challenged Chance to test his skills with fingerspelling on a website that signs really really fast.  She put it on the highest setting to see if Chance was up to the challenge.  He figured it out on the third try as the girl was using her hands to finger spell at lightening speed.

Chance is really good at lip reading AND fingerspelling.  The class was impressed.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Chance's class gets to know Chance up close and personal

Tomorrow is the big day.  Chance's dad and I will be going to the school to give a presentation about Chance and how we chose to have him learn to speak when he was diagnosed as being deaf.

Chance's school is having a three week period called Winterim where the kids do in depth study of topics not usually covered in school.  It is a three week term of learning that the kids look forward to after the Christmas break.  One of the classes this year is an introduction to ASL.  Since Chance attends the school as a deaf boy who hears, the teacher asked us if we would come and do a 90 minute presentation about how we chose to get implants for Chance and our journey.  These kids will have also been exposed to the Deaf culture and their desire for deaf children to learn to sign.

Although there can be very passionate feelings on both sides of the choice to teach a deaf child to hear or to teach them ASL to communicate, we hold no ill will towards any families and their decision.  To be honest, we have felt judged during our process to help Chance hear by those who thought deaf children should mainly sign.  That path would have not  have been right for Chance.  Chance hears and he loves to hear.  He will use sign language when a situation calls for quiet such as church or when he doesn't want his siblings to know what he is telling us.  But on the whole, Chance considers himself a speaker and he is very good at it.

Chance knows about this presentation and I asked him if he was OK with us sharing his story, along with pictures and video of him growing up.  He had no problem what so ever.  His fellow classmates are about to hear the nitty gritty story of Chance's deafness and his journey to hear.

We have some great video of Chance when he was little and learning to speak and read.  My favorite is the prayer video, because it captures a period of our lives perfectly.  At the time of the video, we didn't know that Chance was deaf, we just knew that his prayers at night and over food were long and full of words the rest of us didn't know.  Some of Chance's prayers would go on for some time and his brother who was 4(Chance was 2) would start signaling to Chance that he should start to wrap it up.  We don;t usually record prayers, but Chance's prayer ritual was getting so amusing that we felt we should record it for posterity.  And we are glad that we did.  It shows quite well what Chance's attitude was.  He was perfectly fine and knew what he was saying...... it was the rest of the family who had issues if we couldn't understand him.

I just love this kid.

Chance getting ready for his first implant surgery.


We will work on uploading the video to the blog tomorrow.  We may be a bit biased, but we think Chance is adorable in the video.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Naked Beans

It was one of those days when all of the best layed plans went out the window.  The day was proceeding along nicely until breakfast, when Chance's little sister flipped the whisk that was in the hot Cream of Wheat that had just come out of the microwave.  Steaming Cream of Wheat splashed up onto her little hand causing first and second degree burns.  Her hand started to blister all over the burn and the blisters just kept growing.

Our doctor could not get us in for several hours so we went to an instaCare center where the waiting room was full of people waiting to be seen.  It was apparently a day for wounds and sickness for many people.
The doctor and nurse did a good job wrapping up the burn and gave us some cream to help it heal.

 By the time we were done at the doctor's and were at the pharmacy to get a prescription, the afternoon was almost over and I started worrying about the beans for our dinner soup.  Since I had not been home all afternoon, the beans had yet to soak for the hour that they needed before I could cook with them.  But then I remembered that Chance was home!  I could call and ask Chance to boil the beans for me so that they were soaking when I got home.  So, while I was in line at the pharmacy, I called Chance.  The conversation went like this:

Me:  Chance, I need you to get 1 cup of navy beans, and 4 cups of water.  Put them in one of our big soup.....

Chance:  What?

Me: I need you to get some navy beans in the pantry....

Chance: I can't really understand you.

Me: Chance, use your caption phone.

Chance: I am using the caption phone.

Me:  OK, turn on the captions.

Chance: The captions are on already!

Me:  Get one cup of navy beans...

Chance: Naked beans?

Me: (Laughing.) No, navy beans.  (Naked beans? I was preparing for a family meal, there would be no naked beans involved.)

Again Me:  Get 1 cup of NAVY beans....

Chance:  One cup of nady beings?

Me: (Laughing really hard so I am sure that the caption person was quite unsure how to translate what I was doing).
OK, Chance, I am going to hang up and call back so we can try again.

I thought maybe we had a bad connection.  Maybe a bad caption connection.  Meanwhile, I called back a few minutes later to try again.

Second attempt:

Me:  Chance?  Are you ready?

Chance: (Nothing.)

Me: Chance are you ready?

Chance: Yes.

Me: OK, I need you to get 1 cup of navy beans and four cups of water and put them in a soup pot until they boil.....

Chance: Nazybeans?

Me: N-A-V-Y  B-E-A-N-S.  They are little white beans in the pantry with the noodles.......

Chance: What?!

Me:  Get the white beans that are in the pantry by the noodles, put 1 cup of them in 4 cups of water and put them on high until they boil.  Then take them off the, I will be home by then just let them boil.

Navy Beans
Chance: It is really hard to understand you.

Me: I will do it when I get home in a minute.

Chance: OK, love you.

I really needed that laugh today.  And whenever I need a good cheering up, I will just think back to my naked bean discussion with Chance.

Chance had saved his conversations on the caption phone that he had with me so I was able to review them. I started to laugh all over again when I saw them.  Apparently, the caption people were not getting what I was saying either.
This is part of the actual conversation that was scrolling down the screen for Chance:

I need you to get 4 cups of water. Okay? Four coups of water. And then one dup of (muffled audio).......
laughs. NAZYBEANS Nazybeans. They're back in the pantry with the noodles. Their little white beans. Unit that one cup of beans and 4 cups of water in one of our big pot. Bring it to a boil.  Put it together and then put it on high.
The goal:  Ham and Bean Soup


Okay, One cup of nady being. One cup of nady beans. I'm gong to text you. Do you have your phone?(it was dead). Okay.  One cup of (Laughs). Okay. Nady.

So, there was a communication gap between Chance and I, THAT WILL MAKE ME SMILE WHENEVER I THINK ABOUT IT FOREVER.  Poor Chance. Trying to figure out what he was supposed to be doing with naked, nazy and nady beans.  How could he know what the expectations were?

I needed that laugh today.  The soup turned out just fine, we just ate about an hour and a half later than normal. But the burn is OK, and isn't causing much discomfort and that is the most important development of the day.
And I love Chance for trying.  When I got home he was filling a pot with water and trying to piece together what he was supposed to do.  What a great kid.

Naked beans.  HA!HA!HA!