Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Monday, November 9, 2009

A (AG Bell) Conference Week-end

So, last Saturday, I went to the Utah AG Bell conference. I will say now that, as anyone who has ever spoken to me knows, I am not a big fan of Bell himself (though, in his defense, many great minds of that time were interested in eugenics, but he targeted deaf people, and that affects me!) or of the organization (why is a organization for deaf people nearly completely comprised of, and controlled by, hearing people?) But, I figured they had a lot of good information for me to help Miss Kat on her journey with spoken language. This is a new area for me, and I have a lot left to learn. (When Miss Kat was ASL only, we spent all our time looking for resources to help her, and our, ASL grow and working on her pre-literacy skills.) So, I figured we can use their expertise in the area, even if we do not agree with their "dogma".

I have to say that it was a really great experience. I learned a ton, and got to talk to some other parents (always a pleasure!)

Our keynote speaker was Adeline McClatchie. She is a great audiologist, certified AVT and the creator of Ausplan. One of her key points throughout the day was that we need to focus on "Is this what this child NEEDS?" not "This is what I want for my child".

I thought that was a very important point. As parents, we are continually making decisions for our children. Technology decisions, school placements, language choices, these are things we don't just decide once. We must constantly be monitoring our child's progress to make sure they are thriving and that are still on the path that is right for them, not just the one that we want.

The speaker was very adamant that the key is LANGUAGE. You need to immerse a child in a language so that they can learn. The whole point of language is to give a child the ability to express their thoughts. She didn't care what language it was, just make sure they are getting it.

She talked about the "communication continuum". She emphasised that functional communication is what is needed. We need to find what works for the child and gives them the freedom to communicate their thoughts and needs. (NOT what we want for the child to become)

A-Auditory only- This is the Auditory verbal philosophy. A child uses audition only. There is no visual information provided. (No sign, no cuing, not even lipreading)
Av-Auditory with visual assist- This is an auditory oral approach. The child primarily uses audition for communication, but is also given visual information to help support the auditory. This could be through lipreading, cued speech, or even key word signing. (This is where Miss Kat is right now.)
AV- Auditory and Visual- This piece of the continuum emphasises both audition AND a visual language equally. A TC program would fall into this category. (IF it is done right! Some programs are clearly just remedial oral programs, for those who "couldn't cut it" in an oral only environment and they are trying to "catch them up" so they can go oral. Or sometimes TC is "dumping ground" for multiple handicapped children.)
Va- Visual with auditory assist- This is a mode in which the visual language is primary, but amplifacation is worn to assist in life. Audition would be used to hear enviromental sounds, get attention, assist with lipreading, or even to learn common phrases. (This is where Miss Kat was pre-CI.)
V- Visual only- This is a visual only choice. Amplification or audition is not used.
So, as parents, these are our choices. We need to figure out where our child will most comfortably fit, and where they will THRIVE.


kim said...

Thanks for posting this. It just goes to show that AGB Assoc. is not really the big bad monster so many Deaf people make them out to be.

I totally agree that we all need to listen to what our children want and need, rather than force our own dreams on them. I think you're doing a great job with Miss Kat! :-)

Dianrez said...

Hmm, curious to know--AVT stands for auditory-verbal therapy, so wondered if somehow the Bell association is dropping the "verbal" word?

Somehow it seems encouraging that they are using/emphasizing the word "visual".

leah said...

Wow- thanks for posting this! I like the "A-Av-AV-Va-V" type explanation for communication methods. Nolan is definitely an "Av," we use key-word signing and he definitely uses lipreading to assist in understanding words. He can't discriminate the low frequency vowels sometimes, even with his hearing aids. So lipreading helps him hear that we are saying "Milk" and not "Nilk."