Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reading Together

Today we had speech again. Miss Kat is doing ridiculously well. Each session the therapist makes things more difficult, and each time Miss Kat does perfectly. She acts like she has been doing this for years and that it isn't even a challenge!

Today's auditory discrimination was "boo", "bee", "bow", and "bye". Miss Kat had no trouble at all. She didn't talk very much, but she understood very well. She is also OBSESSED with covering her mouth when she responds. Argh, I don't know what to do about that. It is frustrating, because she uses whatever she can find to use, sometimes even just pressing her hand against her mouth. So the result is that you can't hear or understand what she is saying! But on the other hand, I don't blame her for wanting to cover her mouth, everyone around her is always doing it!

Our newest adventure together is reading orally. 6 months ago, Miss Kat would throw a royal fit if you even attempted to use your voice when reading a book. Daddy and I would try tons of different ways; one person reads the book aloud and the other one signs ASL, Sim-Com, signing and then reading the words....she hated all of them. But in the last two weeks, Miss Kat is letting us read the books VOICE ONLY! (We still have ASL time too) I don't know if this means she is understanding enough to follow the books, or maybe she just likes the stimulation, I don't know, and I don't care as long as she keeps it up! This week we read 4 dinosaur books, "The Giving Tree", and an "Olivia" book, all voice only.

Wow is all I can say. I really never believed she would get to the point where she could rely on spoken language alone. I always assumed she would need the ASL support. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to drop the signs, but she is already able to follow simple sentences, it is amazing! I thought that she would learn to understand some common phrases, but I never thought she would freely converse in speech....I think I might have been wrong! We always said that all we wanted from the CI was for her to be able to hear us call her name, for safety and convenience (so she would turn and look and we could sign to her) and we knew with the progressive loss we would eventually lose that. That is why we implanted her, and anything on top of that was just bonus. We want Miss Kat to continue with ASL because she will still need it. When she is older and in big classes or meetings or whatever, we want her to be able to still use an interpreter well, but it is looking like Miss Kat could become oral.....I really never thought I would say that! Her AV therapist would say things like that, and "I never aim low with a CI" and I kind of thought she was crazy, but look who was right! I remember the first few sessions of AVT and the frustration of thinking about having to sit in therapy and try to teach every single word in the English language, and feeling so overwhelmed. I thought it was impossible (and THAT is!) but now I see that Miss Kat is going to actually be able to learn words from just hearing me talk, from a book I read, and from everyday life. We don't have to teach her, she will HEAR it and UNDERSTAND!

(On a separate note, Miss Kat wanted to know why Mommy kept crying during "The Giving Tree" and all I could come up with was "Mommy is like the tree and you are like the boy. Mommy wants you to be happy always". She'll understand someday!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Sentence!

Miss Kat said a 3 word sentence tonight! She said "Where my keys?" (More like "Whee mie kee" but still!!) It was pretty understandable too. I wasn't facing her to see the sign and I understood what she was saying.Later, we went to the store and she understood that I wanted her to find the bananas and the milk without signing. She is doing so well. She is only 2 months post activation!!!

I was discussing her progress with the director of our birth to 3 program for deaf and hoh kids on Saturday. She was astounded by how well Miss Kat was doing, and in such a short amount of time. We discussed how Miss Kat really doesn't fall into any real "category" for deaf or CI kids, and that her path is truly going to be her own. She even pointed out that we should maybe think of Miss Kat as sort of a "post lingually deafened" child. She's right too. Miss Kat had a few words before she started to lose her hearing. She obviously heard well for the first year of her life, and then was amplified within a very short time after she began to lose her hearing. She had good access to sound for another year or two with her hearing aids, before she started to really drop into the "severe" range. And within 6 months of becoming a candidate, she was implanted. While she hadn't been able to understand and access speech very well, she was hearing and was attempting to understand the garbled mess she was getting.

I don't know if those things made a difference, but I do know that I am so glad we did this for Miss Kat. She is doing amazing, but what seems like very little effort on her part, and very very quickly!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On a happier note

Today I was talking on the phone to my husband and Miss Kat was sitting about 6 feet away playing with ponies. I was telling him about our day and I said something to the effect of "Yeah, we worked on a little speech and she did great". Well, Miss Kat looked up and said and signed "Speech?" She heard and understood that word when she wasn't being directed to listen, she wasn't paying attention, and I wasn't even talking to her! She overheard me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IEP Hell

Yesterday was Miss Kat's IEP. It did not go well. I left the meeting with absolutely no changes to her services or classroom. I cried, the program director cried, her teacher cried. But they were more worried about keeping their "program philosophy" intact than getting Miss Kat the things she needs.

They told me they were unwilling to give her an interpreter to voice during the voice-off class times. They told me they would not give her spoken language time, and they told me they would not give her AVT. They said that if I didn't like it, we can move her to an oral only school. I DON'T WANT ORAL-ONLY!!! I told them that I want Miss Kat to be BI-lingual. I don't want to take away ASL. They even said that the point of the oral only class would be to "wean her off signing".

I asked why she couldn't have these services, and they told me because it goes against their "bi-bi philosophy". Is that a legal argument? I thought that if we as a team decided that a service was appropriate for Miss Kat, than she needed to get it? How is having a CI user in a voice-off school for 6 hours a day the "Least Restrictive Environment"? Again, they the offered oral-only class. HOW IS PUTTING AN ASL USER IN A CLASS WITH TEACHERS WHO KNOW ZERO SIGN BETTER????

Then I asked if we can just change from a classic "speech" pullout to an auditory/aural rehab (AVT) one. Again, they said no. They said that they can't support AVT at the school. So much for "individual" education plan. They admitted she needs that, but they won't provide it......

So, what do we do now? I am dumbfounded. I feel like we are stuck. Why does our state have to be so backward? Why can't they attempt to see the big picture?


I sent the school an email:

I have a few questions about the IEP meeting we had yesterday. It was my impression that there were a few items that were not finished.

My first question has to do with the auditory rehab that Katrina needs for her cochlear implant. It was my impression that Katrina will not be given the appropriate rehab. If that is the case, I would like, in writing, the reason for denial of that service.

Next, we very briefly discussed a "voice interpreter" in her classroom, and again that service was denied. I would like to know the legal reason that was denied as well.

I also felt that we never established appropriate auditory/aural and speech goals. I believe it is very important that Katrina makes at least one years progress in one years time, so we need to have goals that reflect that.

Lastly, I believe that the services that (teacher) is providing in the classroom, as far as listening times, and oral language development need to be noted on the IEP so that we can all be sure that those times will continued in Katrina's next classroom.

I hope this will start the dialogue again. I am going to continue to push. We are going to leave Miss Kat in her current placement, but I am going to fight this battle. I am looking into the option of starting due process now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Listening Ladder

In therapy and at home we use the Advanced Bionics "Listening Ladder" to work on auditory discrimination. (http://www.hearingjourney.com/Listening_Room/Kids/Listening_Ladder/index.cfm?langid=1)
A few days ago I decided to try something new. I started adding a word that wasn't part of the closed set. I would throw in something like "banana", that wasn't a choice. Miss Kat would SCREAM (and sign) "NO! Don't have banana!". She loved it! And she was hearing for comprehension! She understood the words, listening only!

Today Miss Kat graduated from level 3 to level 4! She had been on level 3 since about two weeks after activation, but tonight she was doing the hardest words and doing it perfectly, so I decided to try it. It seems like a really huge jump. In level 3, she was discriminating "window" from "hot dog" and "scissors" from "snowman". In level 4, it is "pea" from "pie", "pen" and "pool".

It took her a few tries to hear the difference, but she got it. I am so proud of her. Two weeks ago I wouldn't have believed she would be able to do this for months. I guess she is the kind of kid who jumps!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Go fish

We start back up at AVT today. I am very excited. Miss Kat is doing well, and I believe this is a very critical time for her. I think that if she gets the right services and follow up, her spoken language is going to take off. She is ready, I'm sure of it!

We still haven't figured out exactly what we want for Miss Kat's placement and IEP. I have asked the coordinator from the oral program to attend, and I told our principal to make sure that people who can make decisions will be there. I don't want to hear "We don't have the authority to approve that." I told them that we need to discuss having a "voicing interpreter" or maybe a split placement. Maybe Miss Kat could attend her bi-bi school in the mornings and the oral program in the afternoons. We haven't figured out the perfect solution yet, but I am sure we will.

So, now to the reason for the post today. Miss Kat learned how to play "Go Fish" last night. She had a really good time. She received some cards from Santa in her stocking. They were numbered 1-9 and they had Disney characters on them. So, we explained the rules to Miss Kat and did a few practice hands. She picked up on the game really fast. When we were sure she understood, we stopped signing. Miss Kat did wonderfully! She was able to understand all the numbers we were asking for, and she voiced for herself (she always signs too) and we played probably 8 hands like that. She is so amazing! When did she learn this stuff???

Friday, January 9, 2009

I don't know what to do

Right now we are in a sort of holding pattern with Miss Kat. She is set to restart speech a week from today, which is good news. Her new therapist is actually a parent of a CI kid, which is great news! We also have an IEP meeting set up for Jan. 21. I feel overwhelmed, but also like nothing is changing. Miss Kat did so well right away with her implant and now it feels like things are not moving. At one month post activation she was doing AMAZING, and now at two months, she's doing the exact same. I guess maybe I'm just stressed

We went and visited the only other placement for Miss Kat this week. The class is an oral Kindergarten for the Deaf. They have 10 students, most of them have CI's. When I visited, I just wasn't thrilled. It was noisy, the teachers didn't seem to love what they were doing, and none of the kids had any personality. I don't know, it just didn't feel like a good fit. I had hoped I would walk into that room and see great kids, a wonderful teacher, great language input...you know, the stuff she already has at her school.

This morning Miss Kat had a dentist appointment, so she wasn't going to school. So Daddy took her to the class, to see if she would fit in and do OK. He made the mistake of telling her that she was going to a "school" and when they arrived Miss Kat FREAKED OUT!! She burst into tears and signed "Not my school. My friends aren't here. My teacher isn't here. This is NOT school". She wouldn't even get close to the classroom and she ran out of the school! Eventually, she calmed down and went inside. The teachers had told us that they even though they were an oral class, they understood ASL and would respond to her with their voices, but if she really was having trouble they would sign, that communication was still the most important thing. So, Miss Kat finally went into the class and started to play. She was just doing her thing, and the teachers were dumbfounded by her signing skills. They obviously had no idea what she was saying and they couldn't communicate with her. Daddy had to interpret for her the whole time. The good news is that when it was time to go Miss Kat wanted to stay. Daddy asked if she liked the class and she said "Yes. Aimee (her teacher) should come here"!

So Daddy gave his overall impression of Miss Kat at the school. He said that he thought she could do it, but that it would be very difficult for her. He compared it to me taking a college level course, but completely in Spanish. The skills are difficult, right at my level, but I have to do it in a language I don't know. I could probably pass, but it would be hell. He also said that our other choice (her school now) would be taking the class in my native language, and then hope to learn Spanish from people around. What a terrible choice!