Today was another great day of learning.
Our days start in the classroom with our little ones. We spend 45 minutes practicing the things we have been learning and just playing in the classroom. Yesterday we had talked about the power of pausing. By allowing a few seconds, we give the give the kids an opportunity to process what we are saying and give an appropriate response. So, today in class, when we did Ring-Around-the-Rosie, we all paused and waited for the kids…”We all fall…” and Miss Kat said “Down!” Then we do the second verse, “We all stand…” and again I hear Miss Kat’s little voice “Up!” She was the first and only kiddo to get it! Yay, Miss Kat!
The first class for the parents today was on receptive language. We got to hear from a parent with an older child who has already graduated from the John Tracy Clinic years earlier. The two most important points she made was that we need to see our speech as a play by play description of what is happening and what we are doing. The other was that we need to use language from whole to part. Start big and then smaller. Start with big picture and then add details. We also had the chance to watch videos from the children in our group. They showed how the therapists are working with the children and gave us tips about how to keep them interested and motivated.
We talked about a study that was done with some hearing families. The study compared “talkative families” versus the contrary. It said that the talkative families’ vocabulary grew faster and had higher IQs. It also showed that those families spoke 30 million different words in the three years versus only ten million for the non-talkative families. Again, the key to everything is TALK, TALK, TALK.
Our last class was about how we hear. A pair of audiologists went through the ear, piece by piece, and explain how everything works together to let us hear. It was very detailed (who knew the part we normally call “the ear” is named the pina?). I asked a question about conductive loss (since the vast majority of our kids have sensory-neural hearing losses it doesn’t come up a lot). To me, it seems like it would be much easier to deal with. The cochlea and nerves and hair cells are all functioning well, so if you can get the sound to the right place, wouldn’t it “fix” the loss? Now we all know that CIs and hearing aids don’t give our kids normal hearing, they aren’t like glasses for our ears, they just provide access to sound, but if all the other hearing organs are working properly, wouldn’t the sound that gets to the brain be normal? The audiologists said that they can NEVER say that a child with a hearing loss will have normal hearing (and that we should fire ANY audiologist who says that they can), but that a conductive hearing loss is “less complicated” than a sensory-neural loss.
At the end of school, Miss Kat had a speech appointment and I got to go with her. We talked over my concerns about her, her services at home, etc. I told the SLT about my issues with our educational options and my horror with the speech services at school. After we talked for a while, we brought Miss Kat in and we played. The SLT would instruct me on how to interact with Miss Kat and how to elicit the best responses from her. The biggest thing they have been pushing (for me personally) is to expect more from Miss Kat. They said that she is using so many words and combinations that I need to expect her to do it. If she wants a glass of water, don’t give it to her for just voicing “water”, but tell her to say “I want a glass of water” and then wait for her to do it. And she can!
I am also working on speaking closer to her. It really does make a difference. Her pronunciation of words really improves if I am closer to her implant than if I am sitting across the table from her. I never realized that even a few inches could help that much.