Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

JTC Week 2 Day 1


Boy oh boy, what a weekend! But now we are back to school and back to work! (Miss Kat woke up this morning, turned over, smiled and signed "Disneyland?")

Our first class this week was about FM systems. The first thing we learned is the key to everything. Signal to Noise Ratio(SNR). When we are in a very quiet environment the speech of an individual (the signal) is much louder than all the background stuff (noise), so our children don't have to struggle to hear. The problem begins when the noise becomes louder. If the signal doesn't improve, it can get lost in the noise. People with a hearing loss need at least +15 db SNR for optimal speech understanding. But even 1 db of SNR improvement can equal 10% improvement in speech intelligibility. This is where the FM system comes into play. The FM boosts the speakers voice and puts it directly into the hearing aid or CI. Sounds perfect, right?The sticky point is that with a CI we can't listen to the FM, so we can't tell if it is working appropriately, we have to trust that the child will tell us if it doesn't sound right, or if there is static. Very young children or bad reporters (like Miss Kat!) can end up in a much worse situation if they are fitted with an FM system too early. (they could end up unamplified or hearing nothing but static all day, and that is much worse than a little background noise!)

I had an appointment with one of the counselors over the lunch break. We discussed my feelings about this transition time. As anyone reading this knows, I am terrified of pushing Miss Kat into becoming "oral". I don't want her to think that we were unhappy with her or with ASL, or that we in some way thought that spoken language was better or more important than sign. We want her to be BI-lingual. We want her to function, no, FLOURISH in both worlds. We want a child who fluently signs AND who can speak and understand spoken language to the very best of her ability. Right now we do not see a clear path to get her to that. Right now our choices are ASL/written English or Oral only. Neither of these are appropriate. Neither of those will get Miss Kat to reach her fullest potential. And that is not OK.

The last class of the day was on "Oral-peripheral Structures and Functions". It was all about our mouth, teeth and tongues and how those muscles work together for feeding and speech. It is such a complicated process it seems like a miracle that ANYONE learns how to speak! The structures that are used during speech include the glottis, jaw, palate, teeth, lips, and tongue. They each work in a specific way in speech and any dysfunction in one area will lead to trouble to articulating spoken language. So, in conclusion, if your kid is 3 and still drooling, get them checked out!

So, because it is nearly impossible to teach all the things that I learned in our oral-motor class our teachers have been emphasising how important listening is to speaking.

"We speak because we hear"

"We speak what we hear"

The speech class really confirmed this to me. It seems like an impossible task to teach every tongue placement, air pressure, etc. Better to just hear it appropriately and then after hearing well, the speech comes.


Dianrez said...

It is news to me that you have to choose between ASL/English only or oral only. Just about all schools for the deaf combine both if they use ASL.

Please tell us about the schools you are looking at, did they came to eliminate oral training entirely??

Dianrez said...

sorry, typed too fast and got the wrong tense.

Miss Kat's Parents said...

"Oral training" is not the same as being provided an opportunity to access and use fluent spoken language.

She needs receptive and expressive ASL goals as well as receptive and expressive spoken English, articulation, and auditory skill goals. THAT is not happening and never will at our bi-bi school.

If it takes all day everyday, with exposure to multiple fluent language models to learn ASL, the same is true for spoken language. 20 minutes a week will never cut it.