Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dolly Madison and Fundraising efforts

Miss Kat has had some amazing opportunities through her school this year. She got to be the "Spokes-kid" for THIS wonderful charity a few weeks ago. She was also invited to speak at a fundraising event last week. She did wonderfully, was poised and shared her story beautifully.

video


In her project based learning class this semester, the students are learning about American History. As their final project, they put on a "museum" and invited the parents to come and see the exhibits. Miss Kat was Dolly Madison.




Friday, November 14, 2014

Middle School and puberty hits...

Oh baby girl, how you have grown...

This week Miss Kat has come home with big news. There are two boys at school who like her. She is intentionally stringing them along and not telling them her feelings. (She even said, "I hope they don't talk to each other!") Tonight, she has been telling us how she is going to handle the inevitable question that MUST be answered on Monday, which is "Miss Kat, do you like me?!?" She says that she will first enquire of HIM, "Do you like me?!" So, pray tell, what do you plan to say if he says YES, my little one??

Her answer? "Hmmmm....I don't know. He is really funny. I like that. And he's kinda cute..."

And now she is working on a note to leave "from a secret admirer".

Oh boy...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Parent Panel

I had the opportunity to speak to some Deaf Ed students today at Miss Kat's school. I shared our story and the ups and downs of our journey to this point. It was really interesting to hear the perspectives of the other parent who was on the panel as well. I really love getting to talk to future professionals and hearing from other families.

During the meeting, one of the students asked how I felt about Miss Kat heading to the mainstream next year. I explained that while we feel some trepidation, we also know that will make it. I stated that for us, the biggest gift that her oral school has given Miss Kat is opening the door to reading. She has the world at her fingertips now that she is a fluent reader. BUT, a close second is that they have taught her to advocate for herself. My daughter does not stand for not understanding! She asks for clarification, moves to be closer to a speaker, and even tonight, at a church activity, when someone mentioned that they would be putting on a movie, she walked up and asked them to turn on the subtitles for her. She knew what she needed for access, and she got it. She will not be left behind. She won't allow it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's official!

Miss Kat has caught up enough that she will graduate this year! Next year she will be starting 6th grade in a hearing school.

Time to panic!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The BIG meeting

For almost two months now we have been counting down to today. This is the day when we all decide what happens for Miss Kat next year. We will discuss her progress and our options. Perhaps she can stay another year at her school, which would work out beautifully, because I would have time to finish my Master's as well. But it is possible that there will not be enough students for her to have a grouping. In that case, there would be HUGE decisions to be made. Do we have her stay here and attend Special School District's middle school program? Do we send her to a small, private school for a year? Do we move somewhere completely new for services, and if we do, how do I finish my program? So many big questions. There are a lot of decisions to be made, and this is unfamiliar territory. It has been four years since we had to worry and stress and cry over what services Miss Kat needs. I've gotten soft! And oh how thankful I am that we have been in a place that allowed that to happen!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Good news, bad news

The good news is that Miss Kat is doing wonderfully. She is reading within the normal range. Her academics are nearly caught up. We will get her language testing back next Wednesday and we expect her to be within the normal range for that as well. In the last four years she has made amazing progress.

Now, the bad news. Miss Kat's cohort is disappearing. She is in a class of six this year, and the two girls with her are aging out. The mother of one of the boys informed me last week that she is looking at mainstreaming her son next year as well. I have also heard rumors that the school district contract on one more is expiring, he will be leaving too. That leaves Miss Kat with only one other child her age. She would be the only girl in the entire school above 1st grade. She would be the oldest and the most advanced student. This may very well be her last year at this wonderful school.

So, even more bad news. We are trying to figure out where we are going to go and what services Miss Kat will need at a new school. We have been talking very seriously about returning to our family in Utah. So, I called the director of programs at USDB to discuss Miss Kat and what she would need for what would be her first year in the mainstream and final year before the big changes that come with middle school. Miss Kat is doing 5th grade this year, so we would be discussing 6th.

When we left Utah, the oral program ended after 6th grade (because that is when elementary school ended and the programs were housed in typical hearing schools). That is still what USDB claims on their website as well. So, I was prepared to ask questions about how many students they have at Millcreek vs. how many in Ogden. I wanted to know the amount of time spent in the mainstream vs. working with the Teacher of the Deaf. I wanted to know how much speech and auditory therapy was standard and what sorts of testing they would do and need. Instead I was told that she would get none of these things.

The director told me that USDB's oral program now mainstreams all students by 3rd grade. She said that they have no need to continue the program further than that because the students are all doing well enough to be served by their local schools. She said that if Miss Kat needed services, she would get an itinerant (for what, an hour a week?) and be in a regular ed classroom full time. When I pressed the issue and said that I didn't believe she was in a position to be successful in a mainstream class, she said that they would have to dump her in a resource room! Really? In this day and age, you think the best placement for a child with cochlear implants and no additional disabilities is a multi-categorical resource room? She is going to gain the language and academic skills she needs to be successful for the rest of her life in a RESOURCE ROOM?!

So, of course, I called her bluff. I said that my child does not have need of a special education teacher. She is deaf, she needs a Teacher of the Deaf. She said that the Teacher of the Deaf would work with the Special Ed. teacher (remember the hour a week from before!) to...I don't know what exactly...to have her magically become a Teacher of the Deaf, maybe?

And here we are. Back where we started so many years ago. Fighting with USDB because they refuse to provide appropriate services for Miss Kat. I guess not much has changed while we were gone. I guess I had imagined that they would have gotten better. That they would realize that ALL deaf kids are entitled to appropriate services, not just those who fit in their magic boxes. Man was I wrong!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Audiogram with Naidas

Kat headed out to Utah and got her annual MAPing done. She did amazing. Now, honestly, that is a word that I overuse. I think that everything she does and achieves is cause for celebration. She is the light of my life and I am thankful for every minute I have with her. But, today, the results of her hearing test literally took my breath away.

Do you see that? All that white area is NORMAL HEARING. Kat is hearing down to 5db! Even more stunning is her SRT score. SRT is short for "speech recognition threshold". That means it measures the lowest level she can hear and understand 50% of speech. She scored at 15 db for her left hear. But, with her right ear, she could hear and understand and discriminate speech at ZERO DB. Now, 0 db does not mean no sound, it means the same level that is the average of people with normal hearing. She did not need the words to be any louder than a person with typical hearing would.

We are so blessed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

This is what life is all about...

Jumping rope with your cousins in the rain.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

"YES, I know...

I heard you. I'm not...oops, I almost said 'I'm not deaf!' but really, I am deaf. Ha ha! Now, that's funny!"

That is what I heard come from the backseat on the way to church this morning. What a life!

Monday, June 16, 2014

I owe someone an apology.

Many years ago, when we were in a very different part of our journey, I made a mistake.

We had a Deaf mentor, someone I would have considered a friend, in our life. He was a Deaf adult who had grown up oral. Then, he had gone on an ASL mission. When I knew him he chose to use both ASL and spoken language to communicate.

When my daughter was in preschool, this gentleman decided to get a cochlear implant. I (and everyone I gossiped about it with in the Deaf community) was horrified. WHY?? He had no need! He was in college, bright, communicated well! Why would he want to do such a thing???

Then came the rumors. He had a younger brother who was still at home. His parents had decided that his brother would get one. I guess they had pressured him into getting one too. Ignorant oralist parents! Why couldn't they see? Why couldn't they leave well enough alone?

So, I spoke to this man about his decision. I was in agony. I told him that he didn't need to do this. I told him that he was "not broken". I cried. I told him that if he thought he was broken, he must think my daughter was broken too. I refused to speak to him again. I fully and completely judged him.

And I was so very wrong.

Who was I to decide what was right for this young man? Why did I think that my decision for my child overruled what he thought would work for his life? Who did I think I was?

I was a scared mother. I was afraid that I wasn't doing the right thing for my daughter. I thought that by choosing something different, he was saying that I was wrong. I wanted to only surround myself with people who would tell me that I was making the right choices. I was terrified about how my daughter would turn out and I lashed out against anyone that made me question myself.

All I can say, is I was so wrong, and I am sorry Joseph.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Advice

I despise when parents ask me for help and advice and when I share with them the hard questions they need to ask themselves, they get all mad and indignant!
If you contact me about implanting your 5 year old (which is a good move, because I implanted mine at 5 and have worked really hard to get her age appropriate in language, reading and academics) and I ask why they have never gotten any speech therapy, don't get mad at me! I didn't make that choice, you did!
By the same token, if you ask me about ASL language development and I ask "Who is going to be providing a fluent language model during the 5 years it takes you to learn ASL" don't accuse me of "attacking" you. These are the hard questions you should be asking yourself!

It isn't all bad though. I got a great message from a mom today thanking me for helping her to find the right resources and to ask the right questions to help her daughter get a CI as well as the appropriate services from her school district! 

I also get accused of being "too direct". That's right, I don't see the value in sugar-coating things. Your child is deaf and that is a neurodevelopmental emergency! The decisions you make, or choose NOT TO MAKE, have life long developmental and brain effects. I don't have time to pussy-foot around and help you through your grieving. (Plus, what exactly is there to grieve about? Your child is deaf, not dead. They have always been deaf. The only things that changed on the diagnosis day what YOUR perspective. They have always been this way, and always will be, SO GET TO WORK!) 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Future SLP

Miss Kat came to me today and told me that she found a new talent she didn't know she had. She said that when she grows up, she wants to be an SLP.

As it turns out, there is a little girl who likes to come and mess with her during recess. Miss Kat says that the little girl always tries to take away whatever she is drawing. She also noted that the little girl "doesn't speak very well". I guess today Miss Kat attempted to help her learn. She said that she sat down with the little girl and taught her how to say a few words. Miss Kat said that she really liked it, and that "I always knew I was a talented 'drawer', but now I have a second talent. It is to teach children to speak."

Every day is a new adventure!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Achievement Testing

This year is the 4th time that Miss Kat's school has given her the end of the year testing. They use the Stanford Achievement Test. They do it in March every year and they administer the test based on the student's age. The test then gives a grade level equivalency for the student's performance. Because we do this every year, the school is able to not only gauge what level of instruction Miss Kat needs, but also track whether or not she is making yearly progress. We, of course, are hoping for greater than 1 year's progress in one year's time because we are trying to close the gap and have Miss Kat's language and academic level match those of children with typical hearing.

I am going to start by showing what Miss Kat scored the first time she was tested (after she had been at her school for 3 months) and what she scored this year. There are 9 subtests, so this might get confusing, but stay with me!

                                                                         2011                2014
Sounds and Letters (word study skills)          K.1                  3.1
Word Reading (reading vocabulary)               K.8                 3.5
Reading Comprehension                                 1.1                   3.3
Math Problem Solving                                      PK                  3.4
Language                                                          PK                  3.3
Spelling                                                             PK                  4.3
Science                                                            K.2                 3.0
Social Studies                                                  PK                  3.4
Listening                                                           K.2                  4.2


In 9 separate subtests Miss Kat made more than 1 year's progress in one year's time! In some areas she made up to 2+ years! (Last year she made greater than one year's worth of gain in 4 areas, and that is nothing to sneeze at!) Miss Kat is now within one year of her hearing peers! Her hard work and dedication is paying off! She is amazing!

(Of course much of this is due to her amazing school! We could not be more thankful for her teachers as well!)
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

READING!!!

Today I received a happy email from Miss Kat's teacher. She said that she wanted to let us know that Miss Kat has moved up ANOTHER reading group! This is her 3rd grouping since we started at her oral school!! She is moving so fast! (She officially hit "within the normal range" in reading this year too!) They also said that we are going to be astonished by her achievement testing at the IEP!

GO MISS KAT!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Washington D.C.

About a month before this blog began, our family made a visit to D.C. We had the opportunity to see a pediatric neuropsychologist who specialized in working with Deaf children. We had Miss Kat tested for some personal reasons. This professional was the first person to recommend that we look into a CI for Miss Kat. She worked for Gallaudet University, was fluent in ASL (that is why we came to her, because she specialized in Deaf children and could give the tests in Miss Kat's first language). This month we returned to D.C. and it made me think about how much our lives have changed in the last 5 years.

We were able to take pictures in the same places and see how much our little girl has grown, but more than that, we had the pleasure of being able to see how much she has learned. Miss Kat is reading and is able to understand and communicate with everyone around her. We are able to go on tours, watch videos, talk with the other patrons and guides. We are able to explain the things we are seeing, share stories and experiences. It was amazing to be able to prepare for the trip by reading together, discussing history and then going to these memorials. We were able to use a shared language to learn and share together.

I am so thankful for this journey and the joy it has brought to our lives.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Our 1 month deal

Miss Kat is a bit messy. She has a toy room which she keeps pretty under control, but her bedroom is just a place where she gets dressed and sleeps, so she spends very little time in there. We made a deal (about a week ago) that if she cleaned it up, and kept it clean for a month, I would buy her a cool chair to put in there. Well, Saturday morning rolled around and it was now March. Miss Kat came to me and said "Its a new month, can I get my chair?" I smiled at her, very tricky girl! I asked, "Has it been a month?" "No (followed by a sign and a little frown)"

Good try though clever girl.

Friday, February 28, 2014

COOKIES!!!!!!!!

I am so proud of Kat tonight. She is in a Girl Scout troop with all hearing girls. Tonight they had a cookie booth at a local grocery store. She was amazing. She talked with the customers and helped them decide what cookies to pick. I even watched her "pitch" from a few aisles away. She said "These three are new this year. And these two are very popular." She was understood easily by the strangers and was able to understand them, even in the noisy supermarket. She doesn't need a go-between, she doesn't struggle with those around her, and she is a completely independent communicator, like any kid her age. I am blown away by what the last 5 years has done!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

So far behind!

I have so many things I want to say, but I feel like I never have time to blog!

First, Miss Kat got an upgrade. She is now sporting two new Naidas. We are still getting to know them, but the features are amazing. I hope to blog soon about exactly what they are doing for her, but it has been less than a week, so we are still getting to know them.

I am busy at school. I absolutely love my classes! I am learning so much and I am finally getting time in the classroom, which I have really missed. It is interesting to be in classes with students who want to be teachers of the deaf, but know so very little about how to teach, and even less about how deaf children learn. But, I fully have confidence in the program to get them to the point where they will all be great teachers. (One of my pet peeves right now is a girl in my class thinks that getting a child to correctly repeat the sounds in a complex science vocabulary word is teaching them. Argh. The least of your worries should be how "symbiosis" sounds when coming out of their mouth. How about instead we concentrate on the meaning of the word, or filling vocabulary holes so they understand the lesson, or ANYTHING OF SUBSTANCE, rather than saying "I will have them practice saying the word more times because it is going to be tough for them to say". END RANT)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!

Last night Miss Kat was laying in bed and talking and talking and talking. It was bed time, and she had her sleep mask on but was still yakking.  So, I put my finger to her mouth to shush her. She was so offended! When I asked her why, she said that she was worried that I was serious. She said that the "bullies" at school always tease her for "talking too much". Seriously?? This was a problem we never thought we would have!