The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Monday, June 29, 2009]

Follow Up on Towson Teaching


Remember how I mentioned that I taught a few classes at the HEAT Center, subbing for Laynie? It was an ASL level 1 class. Anyway, after class on Tuesday, Laynie asked if they wanted me to give them their final or watch a DVD of Laynie. One girl had asked if I could do it. It really is difficult to understand ASL in 2-D when you are just learning. Anyway, I laughed at one girl's response: Annie uses some different signs (fair point), and her deaf accent is sometimes hard to understand.

That was the girl I thought suspected I was hearing. Guess not!

I ended up giving them their final by showing a DVD of Laynie. Three or four people groaned, but majority rules. Apparently they did fine on it anyway.

So now I have to find a way to occupy my time, since I don't have any more 4-hour classes to teach. I think I will make some therapy materials for the fall. I just got two CDs with AVT-type stuff, and I hope they are good, because they were expensive. I was partially reimbursed by my agency, though. Anyway, I also have to go and buy posterboard for Laynie, so she can do some loser project for her Social Studies and Science Teaching class. Probably go to Borders, since I have been tearing through books lately. Go figure. And I wanna lay out! I'm whiter than white. And according to the axiom I heard often as a child: brown fat is better than white fat.

[Sunday, June 28, 2009]

Laynie and the Kids


Morgan, Laynie, Carson

Laynie and her little boy

Laynie and the girls

My Favorite Girls


Pretty Morgie

I love the slightly insane look on Morgan's face.

Morgan, age 9; McConn, age 5

Bath Time Fun


Finally got around to uploading some pictures from New York earlier this month.

This is a boy with personality!

No comment.

Tough guy.

Begging me to brush their teeth.

My famous and much-clamored-for tooth brushing. I sing "You Brush Your Teeth,"
with sound effects, while I brush. Suckers.
Carson, age 6; McConn, age 5

That Was Fast


I can't believe Laynie's next surgery is in two weeks!

[Friday, June 26, 2009]

So Weird Not to Be Working


Ah, lazy summer days...

It is so weird not be working. Funny, that was something that appealed to me about this profession and about working in schools, but I didn't plan on taking summers off just yet.

Now I don't know what to do with myself! I've been helping Laynie by teaching a few classes at Towson this week while she is in school. And I've been helping Laynie prep for her classes, choose research topics, etc. Ugh, she has so much work to do for these 3-week classes. But I think I might need more structure. I just spent all morning on the computer, listening to Anthony Cumia on Livestream and playing a stupid game.

Blah. I'm bored.

[Thursday, June 25, 2009]

For Heather, Ethan's Mom


Hi Heather, nice to meet you. Your son is adorable. From reading your blog, it looks like you have enough cause to pursue testing for an autism spectrum disorder. I'm sure it feels like forever until fall, though! I do not have a child with autism, so I cannot know how it feels, but I do want to say that children and adults with autism have been some of the most wonderful people I have known.

Although I am still new to the field, I have had the opportunity to work with children on the spectrum who have been educated or learned language using a variety of methods. I have done research on several. Autism is a special interest of mine. As is aural habilitation, you have probably gathered. Anyway, the research does point toward some language growth using ABA and VBA (also called VBI). However, in practice these methodologies too often produce little "robots," who use language skills only in the narrow context in which they are learned. I don't care much if a child can use the word red to refer to a specific picture that has been use as a stimulus tool, if the child never says red in real life. VBA is supposed to prevent this by doing "fluency trials," where the child practices several targets in rapid succession. But prompt dependency is a concern with VBA, because of the way prompts are given. To me, it doesn't look any better than ABA. However, for lower functioning students, these types of strategies may be the only way they can learn. And I will say that behavioral strategies are useful for, of course, modifying behavior.

For language development, I have been impressed with what I have seen of Hanen and Floortime. Also, Pivotal Response has shown excellent results in the limited articles that have been published, although I have not seen it in action. I so want to try that one when I have a student who is appropriate for it. Probably in the fall. I also think that PECS, when done correctly, is great for teaching initiation. Even verbal students can benefit from PECS if they do not typically come up to you and initiate communication.

Good for you, keeping an antecedent-behavior-consequence chart. The teacher/behavior specialist/psychologist will appreciate that. Sometimes it is surprising how we inadvertently reinforce undesirable behavior. I remember feeling pretty dumb one time when I realized that I was reinforcing a slide-out-of-my-chair-and-lie-on-the-floor behavior by scolding the child when he did it. He was reinforced by negative attention! That certainly changed my perspective on handling behavior.

Let me give you a few more resource links for autism:

More About Work!


My assignment changed again. Now it is .4 Waverly Deaf/HH and .6 Pals. Alrighty.

[Tuesday, June 23, 2009]

Substitute Teaching


I subbed for Laynie's ASl 1 class at the HEAT Center, in Aberdeen, MD. The HEAT Center is a little place (one building) that offers classes from several local colleges/universities, and this one happens to be through Towson University. Anyway, I had to give them a quiz, video tape their embarrassing stories, and teach them for a couple of hours. The class is four hours long (with half an hour of breaks). Yikes! Actually, it was fine. I finished 20 minutes early. I would have finished earlier than that, but I had technical difficulties with the quiz and had to come up with a workaround. It's all good, though.

The class was so well behaved! I'm not sure how many classes I have subbed for (maybe 8 or 10?), but these guys were the best. They were like BYU students. Some of them had great potential to be good signers. Funny, they all assumed I was deaf. I did not correct them, because I know how ASL 1 students are: they would have talked to me every time they didn't understand something. About two hours in, they were practicing conversation and one girl asked me if I was deaf (actually, she asked me if I was home, but close enough). I asked her what she thought, and she said she wasn't sure. I joked around and told her I am both, and then I told her I would explain more about myself next time. Another girl was asking similar questions. I thought she was asking me how long I have been signing, but as I was driving home, I realized that she was probably asking how long I have been teaching signing. Her follow-up questions were whether I teach college classes, etc. I told her I do not teach college classes, that I am lazy. She said I am good, and I thought she meant good at signing, but I guess she meant at teaching. So that was nice.

I will teach them again on Thursday. Actually, I will give them their final on Thursday.

[Monday, June 22, 2009]



I got blood drawn again today for my Accutane. It hurt. I'm a tough stick.

But Dr. Damm did mention that he ran some labs with my bloodwork last month (although all he needed was a pregnancy test), and everything looked great. Apparently my lipid levels were particularly delightful.

Three Beaches in Three Days


Vacation time!

Laynie and I went to North Carolina's outer banks on Friday, Sandbridge in Virginia Beach on Saturday, and Virginia Beach on Sunday. I adore the outer banks, but I think the best was Sandbridge, this time. We went in the evening, when it was not crowded. The waves were perfect! A little rough, but great for boarding.

On Friday, Laynie was a little nervous to go in the water, because the waves were pretty rough. I made her get in so that she could overcome her fears. I reminded her how to dive under the waves and emphasized that ducking under a big wave is more likely to be successful than trying to jump over it.. these were things we had worked on last summer in Ocean City. Laynie did a great job, and by Sunday she really had the feel of the water and knew when to jump, when to duck, where to dive (straight through, not down). The waves stunk for boarding on Sunday... too small, too close together. But on Friday and Saturday, we did a lot of boogie boarding. Boogie boarding is my favorite.

I wish I could live on the beach. I really would love to swim every day. I love to boogie board and body surf (although I lost pretty much all of my body surfing skills, unfortunately), and it's great just to feel the rhythm of the waves. Too bad I'm three hours from the closest beach! I want to go back to a beach at some point this summer, though.

Things Are Different with a Different Map


Since Laynie's map was adjusted on May 29, she has been noticing some differences in the way things sound. I have also noticed this, and even more so since her map was adjusted on June 12. It's funny that she is a bit less able to identify sounds that she had learned well, such as /s/, yet she has not decreased her ability to distinguish between sounds when she is given a model. What I mean is that if I had cards with the words so and show, which sound the same except for the beginning sound, Laynie could have identified the word (by audition only) without me saying the words for her first. Now, she more often needs me to say the words first, but she is still able to identify the words after hearing the models. I guess that things sound different than they did, because she has a different "filter" on the sound. Sort of like when you adjust an equalizer.

She has improved her vowel and nasal discrimination ability, though. Before, me and knee sounded the same, as did seat and sit. Now, she is able to discriminate between these words. It is hard, and she needs repetition, but she is doing it. Mid-low frequencies must be improving. Or the high frequencies are more balanced with the mids and lows.

Still hoping this map ends up being better than the last.

[Tuesday, June 16, 2009]

More About Work


Fall assignments were on the speech conference yesterday. My assignments:

- Dayton Oaks RECC .4 (two days per week)
- Waverly DHH .4 (two days per week)
- Dayton Oaks Pals .1 (1/2 day per week)

Do the math.

I'm working it out with the powers that be. If that .1 Pals gets bumped up to .2, I'd call my assignments pretty darned good.

At Dayton Oaks, I will work in the MINC-EL (Multiple Intense Needs Children-Early Learner) program. The MINC-EL is for preschool and kindergarten students who need to acquire functional communication. Verbal Behavior Analysis (similar to ABA therapy) is the method of instruction, and peers attend the class in the morning, to serve as language models. The MINC-EL students typically have autism. If they are kindergarten age (which most of this class will be), they may be partially included in a regular kindergarten classroom. This assignment may be the most challenging for me, because the students make little progress, and handling their behavior can be exhausting. Also, the staff to student ratio is 1:1, so there is quite a bit of estrogen in the room, and that presents its own unique challenges. But this class has a good teacher and a good behavior specialist.

At Waverly, I will work with five deaf and one hard of hearing kindergarten students, plus a couple of hearing kids in either the inclusion kindergarten or in the E-PL (Elementary-Primary Learner) program. The E-PL is for students in grades 1-5 who need to acquire functional communication. It's basically a continuation of the MINC-EL.

For Pals, I will travel to private preschools to service students with IEPs. These students are typically (though certainly not always) higher functioning.

So most of my week will be spent with fairly "low" students, language-wise. I have met the D/HH students, and only the hard of hearing kiddo is using language effectively. Some of them just moved into this country, some have concerns other than deafness, and some just have the usual language delay you will see in deaf children who have hearing parents. Some have implants and some do not. Deafness and diversity certainly go together, and this little group is no exception. I am looking forward to this assignment.

Lip Drama


If it's that bad for a fetus (and it IS), what kind of harm is it doing to me?

That is a question I am choosing not to examine too closely. I have been on Accutane for 22 days, and I saw the effects almost immediately. Notice that I did not say "results;" I said "effects." My skin has not become clearer, and I did not expect it to. My dermatologist, Dr. Damm, educated me about the possible side psychological side effects of Accutane, and he impressed upon me the importance of not becoming pregnant while the drug is in my system. But he neglected to mention the less serious but quite annoying side effects. After three days on Accutane, my face started flaking off. I thought it was just getting the way it does sometimes and needed exfoliation, so I used a Vitamin C scrub. Big mistake! It hurt badly, so I was more careful after that. The dryness continued to get worse, and I began using moisturizer 3-4 times each day (normally I don't really need moisturizer). That did not help, and the moisturizer stung my skin. I switched from my fancy oil-free Kiehl's to a less fancy Aveeno skin calming moisturizer, which helped. I am now down to two applications each day and it's not terrible as long as I don't touch my face and get something going. Sort of like when you have a sunburn: if you peel a little, you'll be stuck peeling a lot, and then you'll be in pain and looking foolish.

Speaking of sunburns, that brings me to my next annoying side effect: dry lips. Dry does not begin to describe it. Painful, red, burning, peeling lips. I was not expecting this, so I was not prepared for it. If I had been proactive in using what I am using now, maybe it would not have gotten so bad. But I have never had a problem with dry lips. Normally I use lip balm maybe once before bed (unless I'm in Utah and it's winter time). I use Burt's Bees, because that's what Laynie uses. I'm not particular. Well, I wasn't.. now I am! Burt's Bees stung my lips and probably made it worse. I tried an old Aveeno lip balm I had in my desk at work. It was better than the Bees stuff, but I still had to use it way too often. On Friday (almost three weeks on Accutane), I was using the Aveeno lip balm 2-3 times each hour, and my lips were still bothering me.

It became worse over the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, I was using the lip balm every 2-5 minutes. And my lips constantly felt like they were burning. It got to where the smooth Aveeno lip balm actually felt rough on my lips. I was feeling desperate. So I went to Wal-Mart (between this and my IHOP comments, it looks like I shop on Sundays, which I normally do not... sigh) and bought practically every moisturizing lip product they had, as well as diaper rash creams. Someone on the internet suggested that for severely dry lips. It sounded disgusting, but, like I said, I was desperate.

After trying several products, I settled on Carmex. It stung when I put it on, but then it felt better than the rest. I was able to use it every 15 minutes or so and suffer through. By this time, little blisters had formed on my lips. I used Boudreaux's Butt Paste (great name) overnight, which felt decent. But it is an opaque gray paste, so it wasn't exactly a good remedy for the day time.

I used the Carmex on Monday, but I didn't feel like my lips were improving. I was in quite a bit of pain. After work on Monday, I went online and searched specifically for Accutane and dry lips, and I found a multitude of complaints of varying severity. Looks like my case was pretty severe as far as dry lips, but other people had a lot worse side effects, like hair loss. Yikes. Anyway, one person suggested Aquaphor. I thought that was like a lotion... I remembered it as a greasy lotion that came in a tub, which I used on Morgan's eczema when she was a baby. Well, worth a try. Monday night, I went to the grocery store and got some. Aquaphor is the best! I am using it about every hour at this point, and while it does sting a little if I put it on dry lips, it seems to be improving things rather than just being a stopgap measure, like the lip balms. And it has the added bonus of looking like I have on super shiny lip gloss. Whatever. I guess that if things don't get any worse, I can handle this. I only have severe pain now after I eat, because the lip stuff gets wiped off.

I have an appointment with Dr. Damm on Monday, and I will bring it up with him.

After all this, the Accutance had better clear up my skin!

Surprisingly good


These are quite enjoyable.

[Sunday, June 14, 2009]



Laynie and I went to New York this weekend, to visit the Honors. Pictures will be coming, just waiting for Laynie to download them to the computer.

The weekend was busy, but fun. On Saturday, we took Morgan, age 9, clothes shopping. Morgan needed tennis clothes, but she also needed regular old summer clothes. Darn kids.. they grow and grow. But I am definitely not complaining, because I like shopping. Morgan was a trooper, too. I made her try on everything, because she's at an age where you can't just figure out her size and then buy stuff. Actually, I've never been able to do that with her. So Morgan walked the mall and tried on clothing for about three hours. By the last store, I was dressing her. But I'm not sure how tired she actually was, because she was still jumping on Laynie every chance she got.

On Saturday afternoon, we took Carson, age 6, out for his "special time." Morgan often gets a great deal of my time when I'm up there, and last time it became apparent that Carson was a little jealous. He was disappointed that we were leaving and he had barely seen us. I say "us" because Carson loves Laynie as much as he loves me. He communicates well with her using gestures.

For Carson's special time, we let him decide where he wanted to go and if he wanted to bring McConn, his 5-year-old sister. They are pretty close, so you never know. But he opted to go sisterless to The Castle, a place in Chester that has mini golf, batting cages, roller skating, go karts, etc. Carson chose to play mini golf first, and he was not bad at it. We gave him some restarts just to make things fair. After mini golf, we still had time, so Carson chose to ride the go karts. He decided he wanted to ride with me. Laynie drove her own car. Laynie was a great driver! She was weaving between the cars and didn't bump anyone. The blase teenagers working the ride gave her a thumbs up when she was done.

When we got home, it was time for Maureen and Eric to go out to whatever they were doing. Dinner, I guess. They dropped Morgan off at a friend's house, where she was planning to sleep over. So Laynie and I had the littles, Carson and McConn. We had an enjoyable evening. After watching a bit of SpongeBob, we took them to Take a Break, which is a local ice cream stand that serves pizza and burgers. We got pizza and ice cream, and we ate at their outdoor tables. Good thing they have a roof over the patio, because it was raining. Carson told us that Take a Break has "the best pizza in town," which was true. Also the only pizza in town. It's a small town.

We got home and I gave the kids a bath. They enjoy playing together so much that it's sad they are getting too old to bathe together. I think they will take quick baths when they are separated. As it was, they stayed in the tub for at least half an hour. Then they excitedly asked, "Can you brush my teeth?! Can you brush my teeth?!" My tooth brushing is famous in this house. After the tooth brushing excitement, we read stories. McConn chose a board book: Barney's Alphabet Soup. Carson chose last year's school yearbook. Some might consider those choices to be unusual.

Both kids were in bed by 8:35 and asleep by 8:45. They were wiped out. Carson had gone to two birthday parties, baseball practice, and his outing with Laynie and me. McConn had gone to the two birthday parties. And both of them are early risers.

Laynie ended up falling asleep by 9:30. I wasn't too tired, so I stayed up.. glad I did, I guess. Morgan called around 10:00, tearful. She was upset that she hadn't had much time with me, when I would be leaving in the morning. She always gets homesick at sleepovers and usually comes home. After we talked for a minute (and I pointed out that she would go straight to bed if she came home), Morgan decided to stay at her friend's house for a while. When Maureen and Eric got home a little while later, Maureen called Morgan, who was having a great time and said she'd stay the night. She ended up coming home around 11:00. Poor kid. My sister, Katie, was the same way when she was young: she'd have a great time and then get too homesick when bedtime came.

Sunday morning, we took the kids out to IHOP. Yes, on Sunday. Don't judge. It was crowded, but a nice time was had by all. The best part of the weekend happened in the car on the way home from IHOP. The kids were playing a football game on Carson's Nintendo DS.

McConn: Is Pittsburgh white?
Carson: Yeah.
Me: Carson, do you watch football on TV?
Carson: Yeah. I even watched the Super Bowl.
Me: Wow.
Carson: Except I missed the end.
Me: Yeah, well, it's long.
Morgan: It's boring.
Carson: That's because football is for MANkind.

[Friday, June 12, 2009]

Laynie's Audiology Appointment


We went back to Johns Hopkins today to have Laynie's implant checked. She was experiencing intermittent, odd, sometimes painful sensations in her left ear (the one with the implant) and sometimes down her neck, so Steve, her audiologist, wanted to see her.

First, he tested her acoustic reflex, which he thought might explain the sensations going down her neck. He provided the stimulus to her implant, with the probe in her right ear. His hunch was correct: Laynie's acoustic reflex thresholds were below the stimulation levels that were on Laynie's map, especially for electrodes 9 and 11. Hm, the ones next to the "problem" electrode, number 10.

Steve adjusted Laynie's map to keep the stimulation below her acoustic reflex thresholds. All of the electrodes are back on now, although 9, 10, and 11 are set lower than the rest. Steve explained that Laynie might have a bundle of nerves in the cochlear right in that area, so it may not need as much stimulation to perceive sound. It's not necessarily a bad thing, and it does not mean that the frequencies transmitted by electrodes 9, 10, and 11 will be at a lower volume than other frequencies.

Laynie left feeling like things were too quiet, but that seems to happen every time. Hopefully this solves her problem.

[Tuesday, June 9, 2009]

Good News


I got the position at Waverly Elementary, working with the deaf and hard of hearing kids. So I know what I will be doing two days a week in the fall. The other three days are still a mystery.

[Saturday, June 6, 2009]

Next Friday


I'm looking forward to visiting the Honors in New York next weekend. But before we leave (yes, Laynie will come with me) on Friday, Laynie has an audiology appointment with good old Steve.

Laynie has been having some trouble with her implant since the last mapping. It has sometimes been borderline painful and other times felt full/swollen. Sometimes it is just fine. I figured it might have been signal spread from electrodes 9 and 11 onto the area injured by poor disturbed electrode 10. But Laynie also felt like it was down her eustachian tube or the back of her throat, so then I thought otitis media, although it's still a little fishy.

Laynie went to a family practice doctor at Patient First, and he did not see signs of a middle ear infection. I don't know, I mean, it was Patient First, but the guy did seem to have a brain. Anyway, Steve wants to bring her in and see what he can do. Laynie was not sure she wanted to remap, because she does not want the world to become quieter. But, of course, she will go in to have it checked.

[Monday, June 1, 2009]

What Will I Be Doing This Fall?


I had an interview today with Kathy, principal at Waverly Elementary, and Cindy, a teacher of the deaf who will be working at Waverly in the fall, and Emily, who is pretty much the SLP boss for Howard County. It went okay.

I currently work at Dayton Oaks Elementary, which is where it says "Dayton" on the map. I'm .5 there, which means I am there 2.5 days per week. The other half of my week, I work on the Pals team. Pals is a relatively new program, just a few years old, which consists of a team of special educators, speech language pathologists, paraeducators, occupational therapists, and a behavior specialist, all of whom service preschoolers with IEPs who are enrolled in community preschools and daycares. I love doing Pals, and I love working at Dayton Oaks. I'm on the RECC team at Dayton, which mean Regional Early Childhood Center. I work with preschoolers and kindergarteners, mainly on language and social skills, as well as some articulation. The kids are great, of course, but the main reason I like working at Dayton is the team. I love those people!

However, next year, Dayton Oaks will lose a preschool class due to lack of enrollment, which means that SLP staffing will be reduced. Currently, Dayton Oaks RECC is staffed at 1.5 (so one full time person, Beth, and one .5 person, me). Next year, I'm not sure what Dayton will be.. 1.1 or 0.9. I've heard both. But Beth is planning to reduce her hours in anticipation of an upcoming little blessing, so Dayton will still need a part timer. I'm not sure exactly how many hours it would be.

The RECC resource SLP, Karen, recommended me for a new position working with a group of four deaf and one hard of hearing children, who are currently in preschool at Veterans Elementary but will be at Waverly Elementary (near "Woodstock" on the map) for kindergarten in the fall. This would be a great position for me! It's only .4, so two days per week, and they would expect me to service probably two hearing kindergarteners in addition to the deaf kids. Whatever, I'm just happy if I can stay in Howard County. Certainly, I would love to work with deaf kids, and I would love to work at Waverly. The principal is great, and I like the kindergarten inclusion special educator, Andrea. I worked with her when I transitioned a Pals student to Waverly's preschool. Cindy, the teacher of the deaf, seemed nice, too.

But, of course, I would love to stay on Pals! As frustrating as it can be at times (some children are in Pals because their parents have refused RECC placements and can be adversarial, teachers may not be willing to listen to us or make modifications, and classrooms will not necessarily be structured in a way that helps the child with an IEP), I like the variety and the feeling of freedom. It's silly to think that I'm "free" when I'm doing Pals, because I'm usually racing between schools, but it seems that way.

So here's my hope for next year: two days at Waverly, a day at Dayton, and two days on Pals. Unfortunately, Dayton will probably need more than one day, and Pals will need more than two days. Sigh. Maybe two Waverly and three Pals? That would be an increase in Pals staffing (.5 to .6). And I would miss the Dayton RECC team! Maybe two days at Waverly and three at Dayton? I don't think Dayton will be a .6 though, and I would certainly miss Pals. Maybe it will end up being Waverly and a place I haven't even heard about. There's no perfect solution, but I will not complain, no matter where I am. I know it will all work out.