Sunday, July 25, 2010

The evolution of ear molds

Julia's first ear molds were clear.  I remember feeling too stressed back then to think about color choices.  We picked flesh colored hearing aids, thinking they'd be less noticeable than a color.

The clear/flesh color combination was tough to see.  So tough that I had to get very close to my daughter to make sure she was wearing her hearing aids.  I was concerned in the beginning that she'd pull them out, drop them, and wander away while our Shih Tzu ingested thousands of dollars of equipment.  My anxiety led me to make frequent checks.

Clear ear molds get really gross looking, so on our next go round we chose flesh colored ear molds.  They had a pinkish cast with slight pink veins running through.  They were still tough to see but they stayed cleaner looking.  Julia was tickled that the ear molds looked pinkish.  Already our family was getting bolder.

After a solid year of the same fleshy color, it was time for Julia to choose a color.  She picked pink with sparkles.  Still tough to see, those sparkly ones have been my least favorite ear molds.  I have no proof, but I think they were the cause of her strange, dark ear wax.  I was happy to see them go.

At the most recent fitting, I guided my daughter to a bright pair of hot pink, purple and white ear molds.  I could have used these when she was just starting out.  In her ears or laying on the kitchen table, they're easy to spot.

The bold color signals a change in attitude too.  Finally, I like seeing her magic ears.

Cued Speech Update:  Yesterday was our first cued speech lesson.  So far we've learned enough to cue a short list of words.  With practice we'll conquer these first few hand shapes and get ready to learn more next week.  It's tough, but definitely accessible.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

AG Bell Session: Humor

Julia learned a new joke while we were in Florida.  It's a knock knock joke and I've explained it to her.  I'm not entirely sure she knows why it's funny. 

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Owls who?
You're right, owls do say hoo!

This has momentarily replaced the knock knock joke punchlines, "orange you glad I didn't say banana" and "lettuce in it's cold outside."  If you've spent any time with a kid lately, I'm sure you know those ones.

Since we're already spending hours answering knock knocks and decoding inane Popsicle stick jokes, the concurrent session on humor as an auditory-verbal tool really peaked my interest.  I'm not an auditory-verbal therapist and my daughter has never been specifically taught in that type of environment.  My perspective is just that of a Mom that wants to help her little girl's emerging sense of comedy.

In the hour long session I discovered a lot of work we can be doing to understand the puns that grace our Popsicle sticks.  The presenter suggested breaking riddles into two parts and having the child tell everything they know about each part.

One of her examples was:  What kind of parties do lambs like?

The adult and the child can talk about all the different kinds of parties there are:  birthday parties, slumber parties, graduation parties.  Then everything you know about lambs:  they're also called sheep, they go baa, they have wool.

Then you're supposed to help the kid make a guess at the riddle.  The answer:  A sheep over.

This is a great thinking and listening exercise.  It's also more fun that other kinds of "work" that kids are asked to do.  I wrote a bunch of silly kid jokes in my notebook.

My next step is to get a book of jokes from the library.  Julia has been wanting one.  Now I'm somewhat professionally trained to work through it with her.  She'll soon be the Last Comic Standing, I'm sure.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Slow signers

This winter Julia's hearing got a little worse.  We found that she was struggling a good bit with and without her hearing aids.  We decided that we'd start learning American Sign Language (ASL).  I'm convinced it will be a big help especially during swimming season.

We started with a DVD that taught us the alphabet and numbers 1-10.  We learned to sign the names of the rooms in our house and found that signing "bedroom" is one of Julia's favorites. 

Currently we're working our way through a little booklet called 100 Signs for Parents from DawnSign Press.  The American Society for Deaf Children mailed a copy with their welcome package.  I carry it in my purse so we can work on new signs while waiting in a restaurant or doctor's office.

Still our progress is pretty slow.  Julia tries to make sentences using the few signs she knows.  "Do not dance bedroom" is what she usually comes up with.  It's a very cute ASL sentence.  It's not very useful.  I'm sure it's grammatically atrocious. 

The AG Bell Convention introduced me to cued speech.  I think this could be the answer to our communication needs.  Cued speech a visual support to spoken language.  It should be easier for us to learn than ASL.  We will start lessons with a cued speech instructor some time this month.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

She heard that!

Today is Independence Day and there's a good chance you'll have already seen fireworks or plan on seeing them tonight.  I'm not that interested in fireworks unless they are in Disney World.  After ten minutes of a local display I'm pretty bored.  Ooh, sparkly.... Is it time to go home?

My Julia never tires of them.  We've taken her someplace each 4th of July since she was 2.  The first time we went to the Ross Community Center.  We'd say "boom" and she would repeat it.  She heard the fireworks boom and spontaneously said, "boom".

It was a language experience before I even knew that terminology.

It was also the first time we (wrongly) thought that her hearing something meant she could hear everything.  She could hear fireworks and the piano and the carpet installers banging staples into the floor.  She could point to pictures in a book after I named them.  She could point to her head and her toes when asked.

After more than two years of parenting a child with hearing loss we still say, "she heard that".  Julia sometimes hears the vacuum cleaner or the hair dryer without her aids.  She occasionally picks up tidbits of conversation that were said in a voice quieter than you'd think she could hear.

After more than two years of parenting a child with hearing loss I'm sure that she hears some things without her aids.  I understand now that it's not enough. I'm thankful that her "magic ears" keep her from missing most  sounds no matter how loud or quiet.