Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Conference Continued

Our speaker also discussed the 10 factors that determine success with a cochlear implant. Some of them are under a parent's control, others are completely within the child.

1. Age of implantation (the earlier the better)

2. Commitment (auditory vigilance)

3. Use of the device

4. Gap between onset of hearing loss and activation

5. Attitude (the child's behavior and feelings about the CI)

6. Home support

7. Attitude toward overcoming challenges (the child's personality)

8. Presence of other handicaps

9. Expectations (setting the bar high enough)

10. Other (MAPs, anatomy, device issues)

These things are the keys to setting our expectations. If we know all these factors, we can figure out where the bar should be placed for our children. None of these are reasons a person should NOT get a CI, but they are the mitigating factors that will determine how much benefit the child will get. That in turn will influence where on the "Communication Continuum" the child will be.

Our second class was about how to get our kids to the best possible place. How to help them achieve and reach their full potential.

First we talked about the thought/language connection. Without one, you can not have the other. A child needs language to organize their thoughts. If a child is language deprived for more than a few years (I believe that JTC said age 5) it starts to affect their permanent cognitive development. So, if a child is without language, it can actually start to make them less smart!

Language is the foundation for thought, communication, learning, behavior, emotional expression, personal control, social interaction...FOR LIVING!

She was also very adamant about the fact that words do NOT equal language. She said that there is a whole group of children who will never get past the word level of spoken language. These kids will need another language, a visual language, so that they can fully use higher level thinking. These kids get out 3 years post activation and they are still at the word level. They are unable to use language to infer information, they do not have higher level thinking skills. The problem is that when they then switch to a signed language, most of them still never reach that highest level of language, even in sign.


Well, it is too late. These kids were not given a fully accessible, fluent language from the start. They do not have full immersion in the language either. Their cognitive abilities are compromised because they were without language for too long. They never become able to fluently use a language, understand grammar and syntax, and become completely literate.

So...what do we do?

Well, I would advocate ASL from the start for ALL children with a hearing loss. ESPECIALLY, those who are older identified, older implanted, or have other issues (see the above list!) If given this fluent, accessibly language, no matter what the outcome with their CI, they will be able to achieve literacy and future success.


David said...

Well said!

You have stated the issues very well. For a long time, I have observed and visited with implanted deaf children. I am also aware of the long history of Deaf Education failing deaf children. Far too often, words or speech are confused with language. That is why I also advocate ASL from the start for all children with a hearing loss.

Thank you for your posting.


kim said...

I would never have thought about it that way, but it makes so much sense. You can memorize a vocabulary, but that doesn't make you fluent in a language. That's the problem I have with ASL, as a late learner. I'll never be fluent. I still think in English. When people sign and speak to me at the same time, that promotes the easiest understand. The visual language fills in what I don't hear, but I process all my thoughts in English. I guess children who grow up with ASL as a first language process in ASL.

I do know that bilingual children think in either langauge, but like any language, the older you are at the age of learning, the harder it is.

What does this all mean for Miss Kat?
Good post.

Sue said...

Amen to your comments. Hope other parents read this!!

Keri said...

I agree with your comment about how important it is for deaf children to learn ASL first so that they have a solid foundation in a language. Once they have that, then they can learn any other language. ASL is the most natural language for deaf children because it's visual. It really disheartens me when I see professionals encouraging parents to drop ASL once their child has been implanted or their speech takes off. Deaf children *still* need ASL to communicate in situations where they are unable to use the implant (in the water, sports, etc) and to communicate with other deaf children. I am a Deaf bilingual adult and university professor of ASL. One of my student who has a cochlear implant is taking ASL under me; she wishes her parents didn't stop using ASL with her. It's important and beneficial for deaf children to be bilingual. After all, ASL is the only language that they have 100% access to information whereas they still miss some things in spoken English.

Dianrez said...

I wholeheartedly agree about including ASL in a deaf child's first input.

Without hearing at the beginning, the child is going to take in everything visually. Way to go in establishing a language base...and ASL is the most visual way to set up parent-child language. Another visual way is reading, also best started as early as possible.

Today's CI babies may have another way to input language, but it is my hope that the visual ways are never reduced just because the child can hear somewhat. One never really knows how well hearing is serving the purpose till much later.

Multisensory learning is the ideal and a worthy goal, so those who advocate a restricted method are missing a lot.

AliciaD said...

I 100% agree with you, which is why I chose the bilingual-bicultural teacher prep program as opposed to general deaf ed.

All too often speech and English are confused with language, and many people (including audiologists, doctors, teachers, etc) make this mistake as well as having some misunderstandings about ASL.

I don't have an issue with cochlear implants or hearing aids or AV therapy or teaching deaf children to use residual hearing and speak - however they are tools for developing speech and possibly spoken English. As it stands, ASL is the only way to get instant language access from day 1.

leah said...

I love these posts- they give me a ringside seat to some of the conference information! We have noticed that using sign with Nolan has greatly aided his understanding of some words and concepts, especially for words that sound very similar (shirt and shorts, for example). He's primarily verbal because his hearing level is moderate, but the sign definitely adds to his understanding.