Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week 3, Day 3

The week is coming to an end, and so is our time at the John Tracy Clinic.The classes are defiantly getting more intense and in-depth. Especially "speech", it is so complicated! But more about that later...

As I mentioned before, the first 45 minutes of school the parents spend in class with our kids, using the skills we are learning. Today, Miss Kat and I lead a song! We sang "Monkey and Alligator". She LOVED being Mr. Alligator, and SNAPing the monkeys "right out of that tree". By the end, Miss Kat was trying to sing along all the words, and she has NEVER sung. She likes having me sing, and she loves adding key words, but she has never tried to sing the entire song before.

So, our first class of the day was about social interactions and deaf children. We went over the major reasons that social interactions and communication break down between deaf and hearing kids:
1. Having a different level of auditory skills than peers. (a lower level)
2. Not being understood by peers.
3. Not knowing the slang or general language used by the group.
4. Being unable to successfully enter a group.
5. Being unable to follow directions.
6. Being unable to stay on, or maintain a topic.
7. Unable to change topic appropriately
8. Inappropriately interacting during play.
9. Not knowing the rules of play.
10. Not being up to date with peers interesting toys, movies, latest crazies, etc.
11. Being unaware of others feelings.

Angie Stokes, the preschool director and our teacher, mentioned that when parents mainstream their children, they are always worried about academics (and rightly so). They make all the preparations to make sure that the child will succeed academically, but that the mainstream teachers consistently come back and say that the kids do great academically, BUT that it is their social skills that are holding them back. So, I am going to go through the above list, point by point, and explain why.

1. Obviously if a child's auditory skills are poor, they will have trouble understanding the other children, especially in groups or in a noisy classroom.
2. Children generally will give one, maybe two chances for our kids to make themselves understood, after that, they are going to give up and walk away. That is why the speech and articulation piece is still important.
3. If your child doesn't know what the other kids are talking about, they are going to be left behind.
4. Entering a group is very important. And within that, coping with being rejected, regrouping, and trying again. (Apparently, the whole key is bring something to the group, and ask if they want to play with your toy) A huge part of teaching this skill is role playing. "What can we do differently next time?"Also, teaching to ask if they can join, and how to introduce themselves.
5. Following directions is key in cooperative play. If you can't follow the directions given by the other kids, they will get mad because they feel like you are "ruining the game".
6. Staying on topic is a skill that develops with age. At 2, we would expect 2 turns in conversation. Then you add one turn per year of age.
7. Our kids tend to try to control conversations because they don't want to get left behind. If they are talking, they won't get confused. "If we talk about something I know, I will be able to follow the conversation" Therefore, sometimes they have trouble relinquishing control.
8. Again, a lot of kids with language delays tend to want to play more physically, because then they don't have to communicate. It is a lot easier to play tag, than have a tea party, for a child with limited language skills.
9. Cooperative play involves a lot of "rules", and if our kids don't have the language to understand what the other kids want, communication will break down. Pre-teaching, and playing these games at home, or with understanding, patient peers (like a cousin) will help our kids get the language, and understand the rules.
10. TRENDS TRENDS TRENDS! So, make sure your kids watch "High School Musical". (Oh god, I think I just threw up in my mouth! Never thought I would ever give that advice!!!)
11. Our kids miss out on a lot of incidental learning, because they don't "overhear" well. So we need to make sure they understand social cues. We have to explain emotions and manners and how to react in a socially acceptable way.

I really don't know how I felt about this whole class. I don't like the idea of Miss Kat being rejected and I would just prefer to keep her in situations where I know she will be successful, and won't be rejected. I guess it is impossible to do that forever, and that I need to help her be prepared and help her learn to be successful in ALL situations. It just hurts so much. Coaching her on trends and slang so she can be cool? The whole subject made me nauseous.

Our next lesson was on "Vocal Play" vs. formal speech. The first point made was that EVERY speech sound can be learned through vocal play. Mary mentioned the "Learning to Listen" toys and sounds. http://www.listen-up.org/dnload/listen.pdf and their use for little ones. Also, SING SING SING! Singing is a great way to teach DIP (duration, intensity, and pitch) which is the very first step to speech. Add songs to all your daily routines. (I must admit that we are just starting to sing again. We haven't for 4 years. I felt stupid singing to a deaf kid. I thought "What is the point?" But now, Miss Kat LOVES it, and I am happy to have it back.)

Ok, on to formal speech.

We speak BECAUSE we hear.
We speak WHAT we hear.

Therefore, the easiest, most effective way to teach (and learn) spoken language is through AUDITION! Seems simple enough, right? As long as our kids are hearing wellenough, all aspects of speech can be developed through listening.

So, let's say you have been doing your vocal play but your SLT thinks that developmentally your child should have developed a sound and they haven't. That is when formal speech teaching happens. (NEVER before age 3, and only sounds that should already be there developmentally:

So, for each speech target:
1. Choose the appropriate modality (First auditorily, then visual or tactile)
2. Work from the known to the unknown. So, for a sound that they don't know, find one that they do know. It needs to share manner, placement, or voice. (For example, "p" and "b" share manner, and "d" and "n" share placement.)

Confused yet?

The goals of phonetic and phonological speech teaching are:
-Accuracy (we want their speech to be intelligible)
-Economy of effort (speaking should not be work)
-Speed (they need to speak at a normal rate)
-Flexibility (they need to be able to alternate between different syllables with different vowels...sne sna sno)
-Automaticity (there shouldn't be tons of thought, it should flow naturally)

And, yes, all of that can be taught through listening! As long as our kids are hearing well, it is totally possible. I am seeing Miss Kat improving every single day. Now if only I could teach the SLP at her school...

Our last lesson of the day was on successful mainstreaming. This class didn't apply to Miss Kat yet, but it did give us some really good checklists that go by age, and what skills are needed for effectively and successfully being mainstreamed with hearing peers at each age.

The research shows that kiddos should not be mainstreamed until they have 75% intelligibility (by strangers) and are using 3 word phrases. They should be understood by peers in no more than 2 attempts. They also need to have very good distance hearing. (You need to find out how big your child's "hearing bubble" is. Do the Ling sounds further and further away. See how well they hear at 1, 5, 10, and 30 feet. For a mainstream classroom, they need to be discriminating ALL the sounds at 30+ feet)

So, after school, I asked Angie if she had any suggestions for Miss Kat's placement next year. She came up with a miracle! She suggested that Miss Kat stay at the bi-bi school 3 days a week (for ASL and academics) and then go to the oral deaf KINDERGARTEN for the other 2 days! This way she can play catch up with her spoken language in an environment that she doesn't have to worry about academics. She will already know the stuff, so she just has to focus on picking up on the language. Also, she will be at the bi-bi school 3 days a week, in a row, so we won't be sacrificing ASL or her academics in 1st grade. The idea really feels right, and it did to Hubby too. I finally feel like there is a workable plan for Miss Kat!!


Dianrez said...

So glad you feel you have a great plan after all that oral/aural indoctrination!

It's a lot to take in at one time, and the part about difficulty of fitting in when one's language skills doesn't match ones' classmates is unfortunately true.

I was mainstreamed from grade 2 till 6 and yes, it is a tall order that would have served me best in a more limited time frame, like from grade 2 to 4, or in a mixed situation like you are considering from grade 2 till 6.

There is one aspect that might have been omitted at JTC.

The child's social maturation.

Between age 5 and 10, the child is less dependent on language with one's peers and more on social interaction at a simple level.

After that age, social roles become important and peer relationships suddenly take center stage as opposed to just play.

Old playmates get dropped in favor of cliques, activities are left behind in favor of gossiping, competing and social networking.

It was just in time, socially, that I entered a school for the deaf at age 11. Since my Deaf peers had grown up together since toddlerhood, I was an outsider for the next few years and had a lot to catch up.

Valhallian said...

You hit the nail right on the head in two areas that I can easily relate to. The first is slangs, and I have been into slangs and quotes since when I was at a very young age and that is due to one reason and one reason only....reading.

I remember when I was Miss Kat's age, my father would get my brother and I together and we were read kid's versions of greek mythology and we would all take turns reading them aloud. It led me to fantasizing about being a Greek god, such as Zeus, Pegasus, etc. ;)

I enjoyed that so much that it led me to being quite a bookworm on my own (it also helped that TVs were not captioned back then) As I got older, I'd read Encyclopedia Brown the kid detective stories and the like and took a fancy to biographies. There was this one publishing company (I can't recall the name) but I knew it was their book just by looking at the spine of the books as they laid on the library shelves and I didn't care who it was about I just wanted to read it. I would go to the library every week and check out stacks of books every week.

Every time I asked my mom to take me to the library, she would practically drop whatever she was doing and took me there so I can get the books that I wanted to read. I also used to read a lot of comic books (not the superhero types mind you, but more of Archies, Uncle Scrooge, Richie Rich etc and you'd be surprised at the slang you could learn there) That's what took care of the slangs for me. I'd imagine that today's TV shows for kids, with captions, is another avenue where slangs could be learned as well.

Now as for social interaction with hearing people, now I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but more to show how I was able to conquer the social interaction aspect. My parents put me into all kinds of sports programs, yes even when I was Miss Kat's age, I took a fancy to all kinds of sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, flag football and especially swimming. I joined an AAU swim team when I was only six years old and eventually became quite a good swimmer. Bottom line is that it made me a good athlete, so good that I was usually the first person picked when it came to picking teams during recess and this does amazing things to your self esteem. You should expose your daughter to all kinds of sports until she sees something she enjoys most and then she takes that sport more seriously, goes to practice, etc as this was in my case with swimming. The fact that I practiced with my peers and your teammates are much more patient than your classmates as there's a much deeper sense of loyalty among teammates than classmates and there's no real cliques in sports if that makes sense. As I got older, I got better at sports, as well as outside activities, such as skateboarding and BMX biking where I was among the best in my area and it leads to people being more patient in communications with you because they want to be around you, they want to learn from you etc. In my freshman year, I was one of a handful of freshman that was able to get a varsity letter, which also does wonders for social interaction, cliquey I know, but that's how high school works unfortunately.

You should not be so quick to shelter Miss Kat and you should allow her to fall on her face at times. What really counts is when you help her get up and keep going, it will make her a much stronger person. People that are sheltered too much, when they fall and don't know how to "get up", they become much more reclusive in my opinion, hence less social interaction.

Just pitching in my two cents here and do what you want with this information ;) cuz I know Miss Kat is a gal and I'm a guy, but I am quite sure that you also get the gist of what I am saying here in the sports aspect, for example, she may not wanna do football, but she could do gymnastics (as that would require intensive communications between her and her coach and teammates), but the slang aspect has no gender difference here. ;)

Leah said...

What a great write up!

I wonder what to do for a kiddo who can't discriminate the ling sounds at 30 feet? Nolan isn't a CI candidate because his hearing hits mild in the high frequencies, but he can't discriminate the lower frequency sounds (n/m/oo)unless he sees our lips, or is right by us. The lower frequency sounds aren't quite as important for intelligibility, but I do wonder how it will affect him in the classroom. Of course, we don't have any option here BUT mainstream, so I suppose we'll just deal with it as it comes!

Karen Mayes said...


Same here with my daughter. She is normal hearing in the high frequencies... 10 to 15 dB and deaf in normal frequencies (90 dB) and hard of hearing in low frequencies (50 dB.) So she's doing just fine with her hearing aids alone... unlike her brother, her hearing loss is not progressive... so far.

David said...

Miss Kat's Mom,
I wanted to post a note to you, whether you choose to let this be visible on your blog is up to you.

I appreciate your notes about your recent stay at the John Tracy Clinic. I would never know about the apparent changes in attitude at JTC without your posts. I also noted the asinine ill-mannered anonymous posts. I suspect they reflect a well-deserved hatred of JTC rather than a personal attack, though they did seem personal. I wanted to give you a little background on JTC from a Deaf perspective.

From its start, through the time I was growing up, JTC was a strictly oral school/clinic. They did not believe that "language" could include Sign. They seemed to measure a person's humanity by how well he (or she) spoke. Speech/speech reading was an obsession. As I perceived their message, you are more human than I because you speak better than I do. If I speak better than Miss Kat, then in their eyes, I would be more human than her. They were willing to focus on speech/speech reading to the exclusion of all else, including education in any other area.

JTC was a "mover-and-shaker" of the oral schools of the past. At least one superintendent of an oral deaf school has been quoted as saying that he would be content if the *only* education a deaf child received at his school in 18+ years were learning to speak and read lips. JTC repeated and repeated the lie that "signing will keep your child from speaking". (As you seem to know already, there is *zero* evidence to support this and much evidence to support the opposite, that sign and early language acquisition through sign aids speech.) JTC, in the view of many Deaf adults, is responsible for much evil in the Deaf-World. This includes limited education for deaf children. It includes deaf children growing up with parents they could never talk with, or never talk with comfortably. Since JTC was a leader among oral school for the Deaf, the very abusive methods used at some or many oral schools are laid at JTC's doorstep. Many adult Deaf would cheer the news that JTC had burned to the ground.

Having said all that, I was shocked to read that the people at JTC now include information about signed languages in their presentations for the parents of deaf children. This tells me that the people at JTC now are more willing to learn and be flexible in the best interests of deaf children. Thank you for sharing that information with me/us.


Miss Kat's Parents said...

In fact, so much has changed that they had an aide in Miss Kat's classroom that was a fluent ASL user. They knew that she might need someone to help bridge the gap for her.

As for all those other things...I can't fathom that they are true, but I was not alive back then. I read a book written my Mrs. Tracy and it clearly stated that a every interaction with your child should be free from anger and frustration. She very much focused on the whole child in her talks to parents. I don't know, I can only explain what I saw and read.

I think the demonizing of parents and professionals who choose oral language needs to stop. If someone has a problem with their childhood, take it up with your parents, don't write a nasty comment on another parents blog.

CI's have brought sound and speech to the profoundly deaf. The world has changed. Our kids aren't lipreading, and many are not struggling at all with spoken language. Yes, I believe that ASL should be given to all children with a hearing loss, just in case, but let's face it, many will never need it or use it. I have seen that with my own eyes. I have seen parents who strive to provide ASL and their children just drop it....

David said...

I'd have to agree with your response to my comment. By the time I was growing up, Spencer tracy was dead. I do not know if Mrs. tracy was still alive or how much involvement she might still have had with JTC.

Again, thank you for the notes about your visit.


Anonymous said...

First off, thank you for having this blog up. it is very useful!
I'm kind of late to the discussion, but I just started my own journey with my deaf son, born 4/20/12. I just wanted to share something that I got from JTC, and my hope that people can look at this new era of assisted hearing with less of the baggage from older times. From JTC:" The key to communication is frequent interaction so enjoy many songs, games and books together with Peter. You can use speech or signs or a combination depending on what your family and service providers think will help him most in these early months."
Sounds good to me :)