Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

People I don't know, whom I am grateful for

There are a lot of people in my life that I am thankful for. They are family and friends and professionals who make a difference in Miss Kat's life. (Miss Aimee, she still talks about you every day, do you want to come to her birthday party again?) They know who they are, and I try to go out of my way to thank them every time I see them. Today's post is a little different. I want to thank the people who have changed Miss Kat's life, but we have never met.

First, I would like to thank Abbe Michel De L'Eppe. He set up the first "manual" school for the Deaf and showed the world that the Deaf could communicate, be educated and learn to read.

Second on my list would be Jean Massieu. He was the first Deaf teacher of the Deaf. He started a tradition that continues to provide some of the best teacher in Deaf education today. He is also the name sake of my daughter's first school.

The next two people on my list go hand in hand. They are Laurent Clerc and Thomas Gallaudet. When Miss Kat was newly diagnosed with her hearing loss I read a children's book about Clerc and Gallaudet. I cried with joy as I read it. I am so thankful for these wise and inspired men. I can not imagine what my beautiful child's life would be like today if they had set up a school for the Deaf and taught children sign language. My child can have language, communicate with other children, go to school, and learn, all because of these two men. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

The next person (group of people, really) is Dr. William House et al. who helped create the cochlear implant. They have profoundly changed my daughter's life, and yes, it is for the better. She has a better relationship with her extended family because of her implant. She is less frustrated playing with hearing children, and she is able to understand and speak to anyone she meets. That is also amazing, and I am thankful for that opportunity.

The last person on my list I have actually met, in passing. It is Rachel Coleman, the creator of "Signing Time". I know it sounds silly, especially compared to the other people on this list, but honestly, she changed our lives. It was through "Signing Time" that Hubby and I learned our first signs. Miss Kat saw other Deaf kids for the first time on those videos, and she and I would sit and practice our signs watching the videos. They have also brought ASL to hundreds of thousands of little kids. Almost everyday we meet children that, thanks to "Signing Time" have seen ASL before, and are just a little more open to Miss Kat. Thank you Rachel Coleman for making my baby's life better.

So, that's my list. I'm sure in my ignorance I have missed some very important people, but these people have touched, and changed my beautiful daughter's life, and they have never known her. I have cried with thankfulness over the contribution of each of these people, and I can never repay them for what they have done for our family.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Phrases I never thought my Deaf child would say

Lately Miss Kat has been picking up some new phrases. These are things that no one has taught her, but that she has nonetheless picked up and now says all the time!

1. "Good job!"- She says this CONSTANTLY! She seems to think that everyone around her needs congratulated for doing anything. I think she believes we are all incompetent.
2. "You're welcome"- She now demands that this is replied after every "thank you"
3. "Ho ho ho"- This one just popped up this week. I have no idea how she knew what Santa says.
4. "Gimme five"- She loves giving high fives, and she has started asking for them recently.
5. "Trick or Treat"- I talked about this in my Halloween post. It was a big surprise.
6. "See you later"- This one isn't perfected yet. It still comes out "See me later, you" sometimes.
7. "In a minute" or "In a sec"- Ah, she says this in order to delay doing whatever I or Daddy have asked her to do.
8. "Mother"- I have always been Mama, but in the last few weeks I have been called Mom and even Mother. I have no idea where that came from!
9. "Gary"- Gary, for those of you who don't know, for is the name of SpongeBob Squarepants' pet snail. I didn't even know his name until she told me (Hubby confirmed it) She also tells me about his buddy Patrick, but she has yet to mention Squidward. Maybe it is coming...

These are all things that Miss Kat has picked up from other kids, adults, and even the TV. She is overhearing language and then using it! I know she learning it this way because I wouldn't be caught dead teaching her about Gary! Nobody teaches "Give me five" in therapy. It is amazing.

I remember the first sign she learned at school. It was "cool". I knew she picked up at school because I never ever used that sign. She also picked up "WOW", "gross", "BOO", and something to the effect of "getting your head chopped off". They learn so many great things from their peers...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Back to normal

So, Miss Kat loves school again. I think our prior freak out was due to two separate issues. First, it's growth spurt time! Miss Kat is growing like a weed, and eating like a pig. Second, the 1st grade had it's Christmas program. It didn't go very well for Miss Kat (or for any of the deaf kids in the class). In the past, at the bi-bi school, the Christmas program has always been one of my favorite events of the year. They are super creative, and always have really funny skits, and the kids and parents really enjoy it. I cried from happiness every year. It always reminded me of what a perfect fit the school was and how much they understood the needs and personalities of the Deaf kids. This year was very different. I still cried, but for a totally different reason.

I hated the program. It was literally, nothing but the kids singing. Miss Kat couldn't follow any of it, and she was totally lost. She was a trooper, and she enjoyed standing on the stage, winking at me, and having me take pictures, but she didn't know a single word of any of the songs. None of the deaf kids did. It was horrible to watch. They had been working on these songs for weeks, no wonder she didn't like school! I wouldn't want to go to a place to try to learn 6 songs in Ndebele (a regional dialect of Zimbabwe) it would be overwhelming, frustrating, and in the end, completely futile. That must have been what Miss Kat was feeling too. I spoke to Miss Kat's teacher, and she felt the same way. She was very upset and cried during the program too. She knew that the kids weren't understanding, but the whole thing was out of her control. Maybe next year, I'll raise a fuss, and have Miss Kat excluded from things like this, it seems like an opportunity just to frustrate her, and waste time, not something I'm looking for!

So, on Friday, the last day of school before break, I went by the school and surprised Miss Kat. She was very excited to see me, but much more to show her Grammy around the school. She showed her the classroom, and taught her everything that she could. She is very happy again, and tells her teacher that she loves her. I'm so glad the crisis has past. But, we are still keeping our eyes open, and we are actually seeking out professional advice on how to make sure this time of transition of a positive one. We are trying to make sure that Miss Kat continues to know that we love her, we love that she is Deaf, and we love ASL and the Deaf community. We want her to know that we do NOT believe that she is "broken" or that she needed "fixed" by a cochlear implant. She will know that ASL is a beautiful language, equal in importance as English. She will know that we want her to be forever Deaf, and for her to celebrate that.

And on that note, I would like to thank my anonymous commenters for nothing! If you don't actually have advice, but instead want simply to spew your own dogma, write your own blog, don't comment here. I choose not to moderate my comments at all, but seriously, if you don't actually have something constructive to say, why are you commenting?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

She doesn't like school?

Ok, I'm really upset, so I might ramble.

Miss Kat goes to an oral school now. It is new this year, she had been in a signing school since she was 3. She has always been very excited about school and been a very good student.

This week she has been telling us that she doesn't like school anymore. She says that she doesn't like her teacher, and that she is mean to her. She says she doesn't like her new friends and wants to go back to her old friends.

She also says that she wants to sign AND talk, but that her teacher says that she isn't allowed to sign.

So, I called the teacher. The teacher confirmed everything. She said that Miss Kat seems unhappy, and that she has been being a little defiant. (Which is NOT at all like her, she is very eager to please) She said that she feels like Miss Kat is being "very dependant on sign" and that every week-end she shows back up "not using her voice" and that she has stopped using sign with her too. She says that she tells Miss Kat to stop signing during class, that she can do it at recess, but that in class she isn't allowed to, that she needs to use her voice.

I'm terribly upset. We were scared of just this thing. There is no TC environment. It is oral or voice-off ASL. We want her to be bilingual, and when we placed her, they promised that "our focus is on listening-speaking but sign is not forbidden". She has only been hearing well for a year! Her first language is ASL! Why would she be getting in trouble for signing? This isn't ok with me.

I'm so scared. I want her to succeed, and I want her to be happy. What do we do now?

Last week-end we had a big Deaf community event and she got to see all her Deaf friends. She had a really good time. Is she just missing them?

Teacher also said that after every week-end she shows up not wanting to use her voice. I felt like she was implying that we are signing too much at home, and so she has to "start over" every week.

Please, help. I know most of you aren't in the same situation, but does anyone have advice?

This is my worst nightmare, having her be unhappy. We always promised that Miss Kat's happiness was more important than anything. We will give up or change anything to make sure she is happy.