Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Why do you talk weird?"

Friday Miss Kat and I stopped at a playplace to hang out. It was very hot outside and we needed a cool place to play. Miss Kat is very sociable and it is very easy for her to approach other kids and play. This day was no exception. She played very well with several kids and they all admired her Zhu Zhu pet and it's lovely princess dress. They talked and ran and played. Everything was going well until I heard the words..."Why do you talk weird?"

First and foremost, Mama bear came out. I wanted to snatch those kids down from the slide and yell at them. Of course, I didn't. I gave them the benefit of the doubt (actually, I walked away in anger and Hubby talked me down) and they were actually just curious. They weren't being mean to Miss Kat, or making fun of the way she spoke, they just had never encountered someone who spoke differently from them.

Now to be honest, Miss Kat doesn't have a "perfect voice". She is pretty darn intelligible, and kids never have to have her repeat herself, or misunderstand her, but she does sound different. Add to that that she still has some peculiarities in her grammar, and as she ages, kids do notice. So...what do we say? Do we explain to her that she doesn't sound "normal"? She very easily answers questions about her equipment and is able to advocate for herself and repair situations in which she mishears or doesn't understand, but we have never addressed the "quality"  of her speech.

(While all of this has been quite painful to witness and think about, it is still better than how she was treated when her only means of communication was ASL. Kids were much more cruel then. I remember once when I screamed at a mother because she child said, (and she clearly heard and did nothing about it) "Why can't you talk? Only babies can't talk. You must be a baby. I don't play with babies. Get away from me." Yeah, I FLIPPED OUT over that one. Another time it was "What is she doing with her arms? Make her stop that!" or the adult who told me to "Shut her up!".....)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our next big summer adventure!

Every year we use the summer as an opportunity to continue Miss Kat's education and to had tons of fun! This year is no different!

Our summer is packed!

First up: A reading camp for deaf kids in upper elementary school. It is being held by a local university that has a Teacher of the Deaf program.

Then: 5 weeks of summer school...and on the week-ends:

1. The big 9 year old birthday party at Six Flags!!
2.  ASL family camp at the State school for the Deaf
3. National AG Bell Conference

Then back to Utah for 4 weeks to visit the family!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

National Conference...here we come!!

A few months ago I was made aware of a scholarship opportunity for families who wish to attend the national AG Bell conference. The application process was rather rigorous. We had to have letters of recommendation from an AG Bell member (I am not a member, never have been, and do not currently intend to become one) as well as a letter of recommendation from a professional who could speak to our financial need (because they don't want to be giving the scholarships to the 1%!) I also had to write an essay about our journey and why we felt like we wanted to attend the conference. They asked that the letter be less than two pages....my rough draft was six!

Eventually Hubby was able to cut it down (and shrink the font and margins!) and we sent it off, along with exceptional letters written by the wonderful people at Miss Kat's school. (They wrote such wonderful things...I can not say how thankful I am!) So, I waited the two weeks and got my email...NOPE! We didn't make the cut :(

Well, it turns out that we were first runner up! Another family was unable to attend, so now they have rewarded the scholarship to us!! We will be attending our first national AG Bell conference.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How the IEP went...

It went great! I am so happy to finally be in a place that understands Miss Kat's needs and are willing and able to meet those needs!

So, here is the run down:

Annual Goal #1- To use a variety of four to six word sentences that include nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, and questions with 60% accuracy. (The goal then had 6 benchmarks/objectives which are rather complicated because they are based on a particular form that CID uses to track expressive language.)

 We are now moving on to the "complex sentence" level!

Annual Goal #2- To improve Miss Kat's pragmatic language skills in social situations and in conversations to 80% accuracy. (The goal had 14 individual benchmarks/objectives!)

2/3 of the Goal MET!

This one we discussed for awhile! The benchmarks that Miss Kat did not meet (she is doing it 50% of the time, not the 80% required to "pass it off") have to do with her bossiness and strong personality. Apparently, she has trouble allowing others to talk (even the teacher!) in class, and often she will interrupt or try to talk over people when she has something to say....not a huge surprise, but we'll keep working on it!

Annual Goal #3- To improve Miss Kat's written language to 80% accuracy. (The goal had 6 benchmarks/objectives. They included her working on sounding out words to spell them independently as well as just capitalization and punctuation.)


Miss Kat's writing has improved tremendously this year. We couldn't be happier!

Annual Goal #4- Miss Kat will improve her overall voice quality given teacher prompts with 80% accuracy. (We had 4 benchmarks/objectives for this goal including syllable stress, pitch variation, etc.)


The only issue we have with this is that Miss Kat still struggles with using the skills she has acquired when she is overly excited. She tends to throw everything out the window and her speech gets way less intelligible when she gets worked up...I'm sure it will get better.

Annual Goal #5- Miss Kat will improve her articulation skills with 80% accuracy given teacher prompts. (We had 8 articulation benchmarks/objectives. Everything from l,s, and r-blends to voiceless /th/)

50/50 on this Goal

Articulation is tough. It will be something that takes time and practice. This is the speech portion of the IEP, and Miss Kat will be able to improve her speech (since speech is not language, it is just as skill) for as long as she wants to do therapy.

Annual Goal #6- To improve Miss Kat's auditory perception of spoken language in a structured setting with 80% accuracy. (We had 10 benchmarks/objectives. Some were just about audition and others worked on improving her auditory memory.)

50/50 on this Goal

Ever since we left the NICU, we have been aware that there is a very real possibility that because Miss Kat was deprived of oxygen for so long, she could have serious brain damage. It is very clear that Miss Kat has NOT been profoundly affected by that lack of oxygen. However, as she gets older, it has become clear that she has some memory issues. She struggles the most in her "working memory". She wasn't able to meet some of these sub-goals (auditory memory) because of that. Now, it isn't just her auditory memory that is affected, her working visual memory is poor as well. We are brainstorming with the school to figure out some accommodations that will help her in this area.

Annual Goal #7- To improve Miss Kat's phonic skills to 80% accuracy. (This is tied into the next goal.)
Annual Goal #8- To improve Miss Kat's phonemic awareness skills to 80% accuracy. (This is the last year for phonemic awareness, because as Miss Kat gets older, it will all be tied to print now.)


Annual Goal #8- To improve Miss Kat's vocabulary skills to 80% accuracy. (This goal had 4 benchmarks/objectives. They are all related to vocabulary in reading, not in spoken language.)


Annual Goal #9- To improve Miss Kat's reading comprehension skills to 80% accuracy. (This goal had 8 benchmarks/objectives. It covers everything from retelling a story, to making inferences, to interpreting characters feelings in a story.)


Reading has always been our greatest concern. If Miss Kat never learns to say another word, but is a fluent reader, we have done our job. From the very beginning, we have been completely committed to making sure that Miss Kat doesn't fall into that awful 4th grade reading level statistic. In fact, one of the reasons we chose the school she is now attending is their commitment to literacy. Miss Kat's reading has grown leaps and bounds this year, and we couldn't be happier.

Annual Goal #10-12- To expand Miss Kat's math, science, and social studies knowledge at her grade level curriculum. (These goals cover the rest of the state curriculum.)


I am so thankful that Miss Kat's school is so thorough and takes into account all these areas of development. They are truly amazing. We haven't had to fight or worry or push to make sure she is getting the services she needs.

Woo Hoo!

(Next up, standardized testing and audiology!)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Headed to our IEP

We are walking out of the house, headed to Oral school, for Miss Kat's IEP meeting. It is our first IEP having had an entire year at the school. We will review her goals, her language and her standardized testing. This is a big deal because it will reflect whether or not she is making sufficient progress to close the gap, and whether or not moving out here was worth it!