Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken or the egg

I want to share a story I have been thinking about and ask for your opinions.

I know a little girl. She was born profoundly deaf. She was implanted with a cochlear implant at 18 months old. Her family chose to sign with her. She entered a voice-off ASL program at age 3. The program has no auditory therapy or support. She has spent 6 1/2 hours a day, 5 days a week in a voice off ASL environment. Her family also uses ASL as the mode of communication with her at home. She wears her implant *most* of the time, but certainly not all. She gets MAPing but not therapy.

This little girl is the ONLY child implanted in early childhood who I have ever met who could not understand spoken language through listening. So, here's what I'm wondering: Does she not understand spoken language because she exclusively uses ASL or does she use ASL because she couldn't understand spoken language??


Li-Li's Mom said...

Would be very interesting to find out what she experienced during that year and a half prior to entering the voice-off ASL program.

We really found the brief but frequent (3X weekly) auditory rehab. therapy during the first year post-CI to be key, as much for showing us how to catch her up in developing spoken language as for the child's growth. And that therapy provided us with the tools to get the most out of her MAPing sessions, too.

Having had ASL as he 1st language and the past 3 years in a bi-bi learning environment hasn't put the brakes on Li's rapid development of spoken English as her dominant language.

There's just SO MUCH auditory input to be had in everyday life, and such an emphasis on spoken language regardless of academic environment that I'd suspect access to sound is being limited somehow and those maps aren't hitting it or other cognitive factors are in play.

Anonymous said...

Some deaf feel environmental sounds is very important to have as not all deaf can benefit from hearing aids to recieve that. They have their language. Just pretend she was never implanted and you'll be fine with the voice off communication.

Miss Kat's Parents said...

There is no "problem" with ASL communication, I was just trying to start a discussion. She is the only person I have met who was early implanted and was unable to access spoken language, so I wondered what was different about her situation.

Anonymous said...

don't think she has learning disability because she is not picking up spoken language naturally on her own through CI. Nor blame ASL for it. Alot of people would love to think CI is a cure, but it need therapy.

AliciaD said...

There's so many factors at play - who knows? Maybe she has some sort of auditory processing issue which impacts how she hears. Or maybe she has an expressive issue which would impact her spoken language skills. Maybe she did not get good mappings or therapy in the beginning when she was first implanted. Maybe she had/has issues with the device not working properly.... etc.

I know a lot of kids who are CI users and also have fluent expressive/receptive spoken English skills as well as fluent expressive/receptive ASL skills. Some are even from Deaf families.

Then again - the circumstances with the schools here are different. Both of the bilingual schools here have programs and services for CIs and spoken English classes. At MSD they have spoken English classes where most of the instruction is in spoken English, and ASL is used to support/bridge instruction and vocabulary as needed. ASL is also used in social situations with friends. They just started that program a few years ago, and it seems like it's had quite a bit of success.

Dianrez said...

It could be one of the variations of successes with CI. We all know of some CI failures, where the devices had to be removed because the results weren't worth the effort in maintaining them or in living with them, and of CIs that simply didn't work a all.

It would be easy to blame the AVT or the lack of exposure to sounds and language, but I would investigate the funcion of the device itself.

Children adapt to whatever input they receive, and will prefer the best one. Training will help, but their preference still goes to the most complete and meaningful pathway.

Lucy's Mom said...

Where is she getting her auditory input from? If she's in a voice-off program and her family is using voice-off ASL at home, it's not surprising, because she's not getting input. I think it's like with any language. Someone has to speak it around the child or they won't learn. What would happen if you put a CODA who doesn't have anyone speaking English at home into a voices-off ASL program. I don't see how that child would learn to speak either. Interesting question, though.

K.L. said...

The big blank is that time between implantation and the ASL only program she went into at age three. Did she get good aural therapy and mapping during that time? If she is only getting ASL at home, it is especially important for her to be given a lot of verbal communication somehow. If she got no verbal/aural input, then her brain would have no chance of learning verbal communication. Why did they even bother with the implant if they weren't willing to do the therapy necessary for success?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing ASL only. It just seems like a waste of everyone's time and money, as well as putting the child through surgery if you don't intend to use the implant.

jenny said...

I assume the family is hearing, which means even though they practice ASL at home, the TV and radio and other devices would still be playing in the background, wouldn't it?? Plus she would hear people talking when they go out in public, so it could be she chooses not to pick up on talking/hearing since she has ASL for communication or, as others suggested, faulty implant.

Dianrez said...

"she chooses not to pick up on talking/hearing since she has ASL for communication"

This is a natural but mistaken assumption of hearing people along the lines of "if the child learns ASL he won't learn to hear and talk" which is a proven fallacy.

The child WILL attend to any input that is meaningful.

Sesame Street and other childrens' programming on TV has been the mainstay of many a hearing child of deaf parents. It is only one of the smorgasbord of sounds available to the CI-wearing child, so failure to make use of ANY sound input points to an inadequate input from the CI.

Even though ASL may be a first language for the hearing and the aided HOH or the deaf CI-wearing child, it does not prevent learning spoken language in any way, all other factors being equal.

Miss Kat's Parents said...

Yes and no, guys. Yes, she may be hearing tv, but if no one ever gives meaning to the sounds she hears, she will never understand it. Do you actually believe a child, even a hearing child, could learn a language from listening to the radio in the background? No way. A child learns language through modeling, immersion and experience. Overhearing people in the store one hour a week, and tv just doesn't cut it.

Miss Kat's Parents said...

Oh, and Diane, the person who said the quote, she was Deaf, not hearing.

Anonymous said...

Are the parents deaf?

You'll have to ask a CODA about if they could pick up languages around them (rather they pronounce it correctly or not) as they grew up in deaf - mute family and friends.

Dianrez said...

My bad, even Deaf people can have erroneous assumptions.

It's true that modeling and a connection needs to be made to the environmental sounds, radio, TV, Playskool toys, Fisher-Price tape players, see-and-say toys, etc...however, from personal experience with two hearing daughters, I have been amazed at what they also pick up on their own without prior modeling or teaching.

For d/hoh kids, they do need to make the connection part of the time and if they have the aptitude and the ability, they will go the rest of the way. They aren't going to ignore good auditory input just because they know ASL.

A favorite example: my toddler daughter had a Fisher-Price tape player with her in the supermarket shopping cart. We went up and down the aisles, she happily listening to her toy and people smiling at her.

At the checkout, the cashier said "it's too LOUD." I picked up the player and was horrified to feel it was blaring at top volume.

We had been serenading the whole store with the "ABC Song" drowning out the PA system.

I turned it off and she said, "A, B, C" right then. Barely old enough to say two word sentences!

If it's accessible, trust me, the kid will use it.

Anonymous said...

I work as a sign language interpreter in schools (in an area with a relatively small number of deaf kids) and I have met four kids in the last three years with CIs who have experienced an "oral only" approach for years and are now finally being exposed to ASL in an attempt to give them some usable language. None of them are making any great leaps in language acquisition - it is very sad.

Miss Kat's Parents said...

See, this is exactly the image we are fighting against. It is very likely that the student you have met were id'ed and implanted very late. Also, you are not seeing the rest of the students that are mainstreamed and do NOT use an interpreter (because why would you meet them?)

I know approximately 75-100 implanted kids in real life. (Miss Kat being the latest implanted!) ALL but this one can understand running speech through listening.

Dianrez said...

Doesn't this show that we need better statistics? People here are saying there are successful AND less than successful CI implantees...and it appears that different people are seeing different numbers on this issue.

The ones that fell through the cracks are the ones that I saw most often. And worked with.

People here likely will agree that a comprehensive approach including ASL from the beginning will be more productive than a limited auditory/oral approach. This is what will keep the children who are somehow not obtaining quality input from their CIs, out of the cracks.

Another consideration: remember the legions of Deaf people who are living proof that speech and hearing are not essential to a full, independent, productive and happy life. A CI failure is not the end of the world by any means.

jenny said...

I have never thought that "if the child learns ASL he won't learn to hear and talk". I only meant that it happens sometimes, but I'd never say take away the ASL and then see what happens.

I am deaf, both of my parents are deaf, both went to deaf schools and to Gally and I have a deaf older sister who went to deaf school by the time I was born. All sign ASL. It would be natural to assume that my first language would be ASL, right? Guess what? I talked first and I never signed fluently until my own admittance to deaf school at the age of 12. I clearly remember my sister making fun of my signs and saying I was sloppy before then.

My point is, children are sometimes forced to learn a certain way and it backfires, other times, they are left to pick their own path and the results are surprising. If the child in question is happy with using ASL, it's quite possible she doesn't feel the need to use her voice, and I would never take that communication away to try and make her talk with her voice instead.

I think it's pretty impressive the hearing family (they are hearing, right? no one corrected me) choose to learn ASL for communication. That alone makes me happy because she is able to express herself and make her needs known.

Anonymous said...

My deaf daughter who is implanted says/signs, "I prefer to be deaf"..and thats her reason.(note: this is what she says on her own I actually didn't ask her, it came up one day) I couldn't say with the girl you mentioned there is just too complicated and every child is different. Here is a shocker: I prefer my child to be deaf too - we prefer and choose ASL. A choice many parents feel they can't make out of guilt for what their children are 'missing'. Its all about perspective: Do you feel your hearing child is 'missing out' if he/she doesn't know 3 languages?...no...same with me.. my daughter knows 2 languages, ASL and written English. She is not missing out not knowing spoken English. Thats our perspective. I do remember a time I checked this blog and saw the the author said..We sign and that will never change...so I have a question: Why continue to expose her to Deaf stuff if its not very important to her and she has pretty much stopped signing?