Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

JTC Week 2, Day 4


Our first class was all about experience books today. They are little books about the things we do everyday, to demonstrate things to children with very little language. For example, if the child is having trouble behaving in the grocery store, you would draw, or take pictures of every step of the trip and of the child behaving appropriately and perhaps a reward at the end. It also works for routines (bathtime, bedtime, school, etc) behavior (show biting and Mommy's angry face or time-out, etc) events (Disneyland, or surgery) or even far away family. They are very effective. The child knows exactly what is expected of them so they aren't thrown off by transitions or the unknown. And they work without struggling with language.

We used similar tools when Miss Kat was first diagnosed. When she was very young, we used a lot of pictures to explain where we were going and what was happening. We went and took pictures of every place we go (the store, playground, school, Nana's house, church, gas station, EVERYWHERE!) and then made a chart for the week. We had three slots for each day and we would put the pictures up so we could say "First we will go to the store, and then after we can go to the park" and that way she wouldn't throw a fit, plus she could connect the signs with the places in the pictures. But it didn't last very long. She quickly gained enough language that she understood what was going on and what was expected of her. I think experience books are very useful, but that they shouldn't be necessary for very long (though I suppose we still use a form of them by marking the calender, or reading a book about going to the hospital). I think that the reliance on pictures and not language should be very short lived. I think that if you are still using them after a year or so, your child might not be gaining enough language, and perhaps you should consider supplementing with another methodology (usually sign).

Our next lesson continued to expand on the "6 db rule". Physics says that every time you cut the distance from speaker to receiver in half, you add 6 db to the signal. So, say that I am speaking at 40 db, 6 ft from you, if I move to 3 feet away, it is now 46 db. Now if I move to only 1 1/2 feet away from your ear, my speech is at 52 db. If I move to 9 inches away I increase up to 58 db. If we half the distance again, now I am just 4.5 inches away (from Miss Kat's microphone) we are now up to 64 db. That is an addition of 24 db, simply by moving closer!

We also had a very long conversation with Mary McGinnis (name dropping, she is totally CI-world famous!) about static. She is very serious about preventing electrostatic discharge (ESD). She has seen some parents who are very fastidious about making sure that their child is never in a situation where they can get a shock, even going so far as to dress their child only in 100% cotton (synthetic fibers are more likely to cause ESD). But she also knew another parent who bought a ball pit for their CI kid! (Talk about static! Have you ever seen a kids hair when they are in a ball pit? It stands straight up!) Neither of them are wrong. The key is being informed about the risks and making a decision. If we are comfortable with a particular level of "danger", that is the parents' decision. The most important thing is to be informed about the issues and act in the best interest of our children.

Ok, now on to the more complicated and technical portion of our day. We have been talking about formants. Formants are the frequencies at which each phenom is heard. If the formants of a sound are different, they sound different. Each vowel has an initial and secondary formant. The problem is that many vowels share the first formant. If someone only has low frequency hearing, they will be unable to hear the second formant and won't be able to discrimanate between the vowels. If you look at our "Everything Audiogram":

You can see the formants are labeled at the appropriate frequencies within the speech banana. For example "m" and "u" (oooo), both first formants are at just over 250 hz. So, if your child can't hear the second "u" formant at 1000 hz, they won't be able to discriminate those two sounds. The first formant for "i" (eee, I believe) is also around 250 hz, but the second isn't until 3000 hz. This is why high frequency hearing is sooooo important for speech comprehension! If you can't discriminate between sounds, you will never be able to understand spoken language.

1 comment:

Dianrez said...

Glad you're getting such useful tips! Experience books sounds like a great way to build language--using the pictures for naming, identifying actions, etc. Parents using them shouldn't just point and leave it at that. Do they come with video instructions on how to supplement with spoken and signed language?

Static is certainly a problem in the North when dry heated indoor air and carpets in winter combine to build humongous static charges in people. As a child I used to play games with static charges--rubbing shoes across the carpet several times then picking up objects merely by pointing at them. If one wanted to be mean, using that all-powerful finger to zap people or pets on the nose...!