The Penny

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

[Saturday, December 25, 2010]

Skiing

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Katie, Laynie, and I went skiing yesterday. I recorded my girls!


And Laynie recorded Katie and me... plus some.

So it's an easy hill... Who's going to videotape on a steep one? ;)

[Saturday, December 18, 2010]

Who, Me?

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I went skiing today, and they were offering $10 group lessons. Score!

I was the only person in Level 5, so they combined me with the three people in Level 6. I wasn't too comfortable with that, but we had two instructors, and they promised to split up the group once they had seen us ski. I was saying that I ski parallel turns but prefer greens (easier runs). The two kids said they ski blacks, which is what every kid says. They still skied in a wedge. The other woman said she skis blues.

They took us straight to the highest part of the mountain. I was reeeeally hoping we would ski down the one green that is up there. The instructors were planning on blue. I made it clear that I was nervous about that. I know it's all in my head but whatever.

One of the instructors, a guy probably 5 or 10 years older than I, said, "You can handle blue. I can tell by your eyes." Eh? It sure isn't confidence you're seeing! While I was processing that, he continued, "You have beautiful blue eyes."

Who, me?

It's been years since anybody flirted with me. That was so not on my radar. Somehow I ended up with him when the group split, and it was the best lesson ever. I got plenty of attention. I kind of felt badly for the other woman, who got less attention, found out that although she was skiing blues her technique was wrong, and got plowed down by a reckless snowboarder.

That guy kept flirting with me and giving me way too much praise. Haha. I totally encouraged it, because I'm usually ignored during group lessons. I improved a lot today. I'm now a solid level 6! Last week I was Level 4. :) I think I'll request that guy if he's available next time. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

[Tuesday, December 14, 2010]

Opeibea

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A few weeks ago, I was visiting one of my kiddos that I see as an itinerant teacher. I'll call her Hattie. She's a hearing child who is pretty much caught up with her language... except for her social language. She can use her words pretty ruthlessly, without really meaning to hurt others. I'm not sure how much she recognizes that others have feelings like she does.

On this day, Hattie sat down to do a puzzle, and her little friend from class, Opeibea, wanted to join in. She picked up a piece and said, "Hattie, I'll help you." Hattie grabbed the piece and responded, "No, don't touch it!" Opeibea said, "Why?" Hattie answered, "Because I hate you."

Hattie does not hate Opeibea. They play together every day and have a great time. She just wanted to play alone at that moment, and she said what she thought would make Opeibea leave her alone, without considering Opeibea's feelings.

But Opeibea did not leave her alone, nor did she strike back after the hurtful comment. With a concerned expression on her face, she gently said, "Is it me?"

This exchange has stuck with me, and I keep thinking what a good example Opeibea set, and how I want to be more like this 4-year-old child.

[Saturday, December 11, 2010]

Proud of My Boys

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Earlier this week, my deaf kiddos went with all the first graders to a play, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The classroom interpreter went up separately, because she wanted to look over the script and music beforehand. The teacher of the deaf and I rode on the bus with the kids.

So the kids had not seen the interpreter that morning when they got to school. We got them unpacked and set up with their FM receivers, and then it was time to get on the bus.

When we got to the theater and got our kids seated (in the third row, while their poor hearing classmates were up in nosebleed), arranging Oil and Water so they were not sitting next to each other... My superstar boy happily greeted the interpreter and watched as she and I discussed where she would stand. The theater company had her way off to the side, which is totally unrealistic--like a first grader is going to look away from the action on stage for a second. Hm, a dancing mouth, a talking dog, and a wolf that loses his teeth all over the stage... or the interpreter that I see every day. Yeah. We got that changed.

When the interpreter was set and the kids were positioned so they could all see her (no grown-up heads blocking them), Superstar waved to get her attention and signed, "Interpret? You interpret?" When she said yes, he smiled.

The poor child thought he'd have to try to make sense of the action without the benefit of language, like in other non-school situations. I don't think he realized that interpretation was even possible outside of school.

That was sad, but I was happy at the same time, because he demonstrating understanding of the concept of interpretation. Oh, how I have worked on that! Our assigned interpreter is frequently absent, which is sort of frustrating, but I'm making lemonade. When different interpreters walk into the classroom, three of the kids could not care less, but this child is always interested in learning their names (signs and spelling). He is quite outgoing, introducing his deaf peers and me to the interpreters. The interpreters are always charmed by this brilliant and very big-D Deaf child. And I take a minute to emphasize, "So-and-so is not here today. So-and-so will not interpret. Today we have a substitute interpreter. Whatever-her-name-is will interpret." I guess somewhere along the way, those explanations clicked!

On a side note, our most oral child shocked me while we were at the play. I had the two boys sitting near me, which gave me the little superstar and the oral boy, who happens to be visually impaired. And have fine motor difficulty. And appear generally clumsy and immature. He rarely signs, and when he does, it's usually inaccurate, such as "bathroom" with an A or N handshape, "fun" with an R handshape, or "math" that frankly looks like the sign for "celebrate." But he's always happy, and he's a lot of fun. He's also the noisiest deaf child you'll ever meet. He loves to ask questions, and any instructions given will be met with a quick, "Why?"

During the play, he kept asking questions, like, "Why that dog sad?" and "What the mom said?" so I encouraged him to watch the interpreter. And I shushed him. Frequently. I guess he really wanted to talk to me, because he SIGNED, "What next?" The child knows the sign "next." And produced it clearly.

He signed, "Mom what-do?" You know, the "do-do" sign, not the "action/doing" sign--as in, the correct sign for the context.

We have worked on answering "what doing" questions for over a year, using that very sign. He rarely looks at us, seems to depend completely on his CI for language. When his processor broke last month, he stared at us like he had never seen ASL before as we explained that we couldn't get it working and mom would have to call his audiologist. And he knows "do-do"!!! Little stinker.

The teacher of the deaf likes to remind everyone that this boy is more with it than he shows, and she is soooo right.

Little stinker.

[Friday, December 10, 2010]

Sick Day = Ski Day

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I've had a sore throat since Tuesday, and yesterday morning I woke up with palms that were funkifying and ready to peel. In my family, this is a sure sign of strep, so I went to the doctor. The rapid strep test was negative, but she was confident that I have it or at least something communicable, so I was ordered not to be in close contact with people for 24 or preferably 48 hours after starting antibiotics. At first I was upset, knowing that I would miss a Thursday, which is my insanely busy day, and that particular day happened to include a planned observation by the head of sped and an IEP meeting. Then I realized... I have to take a sick day, but (aside from a sore throat) I feel fine. Score!

So I went skiing. Wouldn't you?

It was a beautiful opening day at Whitetail Resort, in PA.

Not all the runs were open yet. Fake snow, natch.

So ready to ski!

Of course I dragged my bug with me.

It started snowing... from the ground up?

Yeah, it was just the cannons.

The place was dead. It was so nice having the mountain pretty much to yourself!

Laynie got a helmet this year. The chances of getting hit on an implant site is low, but it's not worth the risk. the helmet fits with her processors on (hooray for small Med-El processors), which is nice. She doesn't have to worry about them falling off and getting skied on. The goggles are also new. They are meant to fit over glasses, which means she can see where she is going. Bonus.

After two runs down the hill, Laynie was dead.

Hehe, she can't smile with her goggles on.

Better!

More ski! More ski!

[Wednesday, November 24, 2010]

I Learned So Much!

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I went to the ASHA Convention, which is for speech-language pathologists and audiologists (OK, mainly for SLPs). They have seminars, poster sessions where people present research and you wander around chatting with them, info sessions for masters and doctoral programs, vendor booths with tons of free junk (pens, bags, lip balm--I got a pen/bubble wand for my selective mute kiddo), ummm... career fair... just lots of stuff. I was mainly interested in the seminars/classes and the doctoral program information.

This year the conference was in Philadelphia, which I had never been to before. Never touched.

I learned three things at the convention:
1. I hate Philadelphia. I didn't mean to... it just happened.
2. I miss interacting with brilliant people.
3. I MUST get a doctorate.

Yes, it's a must. So now I'm looking at PhD programs. It stinks, because you can't really choose where you're going to go, like hm, I enjoy Maryland, I'll just go to University of Maryland. Uh-uh. You have to go where there is someone doing research in your area of interest. One of my areas of interest is phonology, and the phonology guru is at Wichita State. That's in Kansas! My understanding is that they don't have a beach there.

I actually met said guru at the conference. Totally unexpected.

I was in the poster hall, and one caught my eye, something about phonological errors of cochlear implant users. As the young master's student was explaining her thesis to me, I noticed the other name on the poster: PHONOLOGY GURU. Well, actually, her name is Barbara Hodson. Whoa, Dr. Hodson was your mentor for this project? I looked at the name tags of everyone who looked over age 50 and lo and behold, she was right nearby! Of course I had to accost her and babble on about how much I love her work, that I use her phonology program all the time. She hugged me.

So I have one contact in the academic world. I mean, besides the BYU faculty. But BYU doesn't have a doctoral program in my field, so that's not an option. Y'all know how I feel about Utah, but I'd probably choose it over Kansas. It's the devil I know.

Hopefully I can find a program somewhere that I won't totally hate, but even if I don't, it's only for four years.

I went to a lot of seminars on auditory processing, which was great. I learned so much! I went to one on motor speech disorders, only because my favorite BYU professor, the best teacher in the whole wide world, Dr. Dromey, was one of the presenters. I took down some "DromeyQuotes" for my friend Rachelle. We used to write down the acerbic, very British things he says--think Hugh Grant humor. Or whoever writes for Hugh Grant. Here are a couple for you:
-Now you're thinking, "My larynx doesn't make yogurt."
-We'll blame those vocal folds for not doing the honorable thing.

A woman presenting in the same session as Dr. Dromey was also kind of funny. I took down a quote from her:
-This can make your life more blissful or miserable. I'm always on the side of bliss.

I guess you have to realize that the words surrounding these quotes include hyolaryngeal, dysarthric, obturator, musculature, hypokinetic, nasalance, prosthedontic, formant frequencies, articulatory specification, and vocal tract configurations. Blogger's spell checker doesn't think half of those words even exist. Then someone starts saying how the larynx makes plain yogurt... refreshing. The idea, not yogurt. The bliss quote was in the context of considerations for palatal lift recommendations for patients with velopharyngeal port incompetence. Now you're thinking I'm crazy for even saying that I enjoyed the conference. Really, I did.

I went to several sessions on cochlear implants/aural habilitation. One presentation absolutely blew AVT out of the water. It was fantastic. And I saw a stupid AVT from Johns Hopkins there, who recommended not signing with a newly implanted SEVEN YEAR OLD whose family DOESN'T SPEAK ENGLISH. And who had only been signing for a year (do the math... that's right, no language until nearly age six). When we asked how we would educate the child without being able to communicate with him, she said that listening skills were more important than education. Hopefully she took in some of what that session was saying.

One other session was on differential diagnosis (figuring out what's wrong) of cochlear implant kids who have other problems. They're implanting kids so early that they don't know what challenges the child is going to face in addition to deafness. They also don't know who is going to be successful with listening and spoken language. This was from the AVTs at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Interesting (and sad): CHOP doesn't implant unless they think the person will develop spoken language. If they think the person will need to use sign language, they won't do the surgery. I guess they wouldn't have implanted my seven year old international student. Even with their stringent criteria for implantation, and given intensive AVT (auditory verbal therapy--teaching deaf kids to listen and not use any lipreading), only 25% of kids become "primarily listening and spoken language" kids. Fifty percent use listening and lipreading. Twenty-five percent use listening and lipreading but primarily sign language. Hm, so one out of four kids who they thought would become a good listener and who had intensive AVT ended up using primarily sign language... wouldn't those kids be so far behind in ASL development by the time they begin it that they'll always struggle in school? I don't even want to think about it. And I was surprised that only 25% end up being AVT poster children. The session did have a lot of useful information, and I was glad I went.

The whole conference as a whole was very enjoyable to me. I took copious notes and am now happier in my job, knowing that the world is much bigger than the insanity currently surrounding me. This too shall pass, and I will be on to bigger and better things, like teaching at a university. It's going to happen.

This Is Kid Is So All Mine

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OK, that kiddo with selective mutism? I've got her right where I want her... bwahahahaha!

I stopped by her house yesterday just to drop off an IEP draft. This is a good thing: we're modifying the IEP because she's going to start preschool on Monday. Yay! And I'm going to stay with her the whole morning, just to make sure things start off on the right foot.

I ended up chatting on the front porch with her mom, while Little Miss and Big Sis ran around the front yard. They were racing across the yard to jump in a leaf pile, then back to the fence to say hi to their dog. Every time Little Miss ran past us, she yelled, "Hello!" Well, more like, "Ewo!" Apparently she has a Cockney accent and also can't say her L's. It don't make you a bad person.

I don't know who she was yelling to, Mom or me, but I acted like it was to me and answered back, "Hello!" every time. She thought it was funny. She came over to me and pointed at the dog. I pretended not to know whose dog that was and she said, "Crockett buddy boy!" Yup, she talked to me.

As I was leaving, she came running at me, full speed, and I bent down to her level. Without even slowing her stride, she scooped up some leaves and threw them on me. You can't say she doesn't have personality! Poor Mom was mortified. Please, I've had much worse than leaves on me in preschool. Leaves don't stink or stain!

I threw them right back at Little Miss, and we had a little leaf war.

I love this kid!

[Saturday, November 6, 2010]

She Talked to Me!

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I know, I'm all about work lately.

I have this little girl with selective mutism, meaning that she is basically very choosy about whom she will talk to. She spoke to no one until about 6 months ago (she is three), and now it's just immediate family. She does talk to grandma but stopped for a few weeks after grandma moved to a different apartment. Yeah, she's easily rattled and takes time to warm up. She was in the EB problem (birth to three) for about a year, with weekly SLP visits, and she said a total of one word to the EB SLP. "Yeah" slipped out once. She's a tough nut to crack!

This is the little girl who got kicked out of nursery school for not being potty trained, who languished for six or seven weeks without services until I got the ball rolling about a month ago. I've been out to see the child three times now. I actually look forward to it, because my whole goal for the visits is to build a rapport with the child--and give mom strategies--but mainly to develop a relationship. I need the child to like me and trust me. I don't need to build "therapy" into things, just focus on having FUN. How awesome is that?

I had mom use her camera phone to record the child talking, to "surprise" me with when I came for my second visit. The child loved my first visit, because I am an insane person with no sense of embarrassment when playing with a three-year-old. I don't care that mom is watching. If it gets the child to talk, I'll make a fool of myself! Apparently Little Miss told her family a million times that week about throwing monkeys and laughing with Miss Annie while she (that would be me) made crazy monkey sounds. When mom told me that, I knew Little Miss would talk to me. I didn't think it would be so soon!

When I walked in the door for my second visit, the child ran at me full speed, skidded to a stop right in front of me, waved a drawing at me, and said, "Daddy!"

That was great... but she said not a word for the next 30 minutes.

The reason I had mom record the child and let me watch it was so that the child's "secret" would be out, and one barrier to talking to me would be removed. I hoped it would speed up the process from a year of not talking to me (though I hoped that my awesomeness would get things moving more quickly than the very vanilla EB SLP did) to mere months of not talking to me. The video started (audio only.. mom wisely hid the camera in her lap), and I heard Little Miss singing her ABCs. Adorable! I acted all excited about it and asked Little Miss (who had grabbed the camera, enthralled by her own talent) to play the video again. I just enjoyed it so much. She did, and then she flipped through the videos and found one of herself cleaning up with daddy, and she said, "Daddy clean up abba flabba blah bee famma mappa!" Yeah. I understood about a quarter of what she said. That was disheartening. But she was talking! To me! And she kept talking for the next 10 minutes. Unfortunately, when I said it was time for me to leave, the light left her face. She shut down and wouldn't say good-bye when mom prompted.

She didn't talk on the third visit, because the educator was with me. It was really disappointing, but not unexpected. I would say the chances of this child talking the first time she meets someone are zero to none. But she talked to me!

Save the Mods for Somebody Who Needs Them

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The other day I was giving a math test to two children. Bet you wouldn't expect an SLP to be giving a math test! We do a lot of role sharing. :) So I'm giving this math test to two of the deaf kiddos, and I had the visuals used in class available for them during the test. I was letting them work at their own pace and presenting individual directions for each item, and the boy got to the story problems the girl. I began to set out the visuals for "in all (+)" and "left (-)" but he shooed them away, tapping his head to indicate his intelligence and saying, "I know it, I don't need those. Give them to [girl's name], she doesn't know it."

Picture the sign for "ego." Yeah. But you have to respect his confidence!

[Thursday, November 4, 2010]

Kids These Days

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Yesterday my kiddos were having a stimulating discussion on pets during their hour-long group pull out. I had read a silly story about a boy wanting a polar bear and a shark and a bison for a pet, and we talked about what real pets people have. The TOD has asked their parents about their pets and heard back from all but one (our highest kid--he can answer for himself), so we knew what pets they have. This is important whenever we talk to our kids, because some people will say "Yes" no matter what you ask them.

I'm going to call myself S (for speech or for "Saysee" as one child calls me, since my name is Hasting). T = teacher of deaf.

Child Circle has a cat.
S: Circle, do you have a pet?
C: Cat.
T: What is your cat's name?
C: (Fingerspells) C-A-T.
T: No, your cat's name is Tara. [We did think the name was Cat all last year... sigh..]

Child Triangle has two cats and two rats.
S: Triangle, do you have a pet?
Tr: [Holds up four fingers--great ASL listing!] Cat cat rat rat. [Signs this while pointing to fingers in the opposite direction used for ASL listing, starting with the pinky. Alrighty.]

That's okay, because she answered the question, and she was CORRECT.

Child Square does not have a pet, but I remember that he told me before that he had a fish over the summer that died. Big brother flushed it down the toilet.
T: Square, do you have a pet?
Sq: (signs) No, me none.
T: You had a pet before, though. You had a fish.
Sq: Fish me none.
S: Past. Remember? Fish died?
Sq: [Comprehension dawns on his face] Yes, fish died.
S: Fish color what? Fish black?
Sq: Fish orange. One (shakes head) six!
S: You had six fish!
T: Do you want a pet?
Sq: No. Pet me don't-like.
S: Same.
T: OK, write about your six fish.

So Square drew and wrote about his six dearly departed goldfish.

Oval has never had a pet. We were going to let him write about a pet he wants.
S: Oval, do you have a pet?
O: Yes.
T: No, you don't.
O: Yes, I do.
T: What kind of pet do you have?
O: A dog. [He says this every time they bring up pets in the classroom]
T: You do not have a dog.
O: Yes I do!
S: Where is it?
O: At home.
S: Where at home? In the living room?
O: In my bedroom.
S: Does it stay in your bedroom?
O: Yes. It's on my bed.
S: That is a toy. You have a toy dog. It's not real. Do you have a real pet?
[Sqare is looking disdainfully at Oval, and Circle is thinking this is great fun.]
O: Yes. I have a dog.
C: No!!
[TOD shows him a picture of her dogs and explains that they are "real dogs." She gets a stuffed zebra and asks..]
T: Is this a real zebra?
O: Yes.
C: No!!
[Triangle is really annoyed, so she blocks her eyes so that she cannot see Oval.]
T: This is not a real zebra. This is a toy zebra.
S: Oval, you have a toy dog. You do not have a real dog.
O: Yes, I do. I have a real dog.
[Square rolls his eyes]
Sq: No. Wrong you.
S: A real dog? A real dog eats. Does your dog eat dog food? Does your dog drink water? Does your dog bark? Does your dog go outside and go pee and poop?
C: Poop in butt! [points to her behind]
S: Yes, poop does come from your butt. Good thinking, Circle.

Yes, I actually said that! I guess I'm so used to responding to everything the kids say. The conversation pretty much unraveled at that point. TOD and I were laughing, and the paraeducator was so proud of Circle for knowing something. She spoke truly!

Oval can pretend a lot with his toy dog, but surely he does not bring it outside and pretend it is relieving itself! I thought my rhetorical skills would win out, but he continued to insist that he has a real dog.

The writing prompt on the board was "My pet is..."

Square wrote, "My pet is fish. water in fish six orange fish." He was writing ASL, setting the scene with a rhetorical question: "What's in the water? Fish. Six orange fish."

Triangle, who had apparently been inspired by Square to draw her own deceased fish, wrote, "My pet is cat rat. fish. cat scare run." I am not at all surprised that her cats get scared and run away from her. That was mostly independent, although I helped her find the pages in the ASL dictionary for scare and run, because she didn't know the beginning letters.

Circle wrote, "My pet is cat taRa." Cat is Brown and BLack."

Oval wrote, "My pet is a yellow and blacK dog."

And we said, "This is a nice sentence. Fix your K. Lowercase."

[Monday, October 25, 2010]

Budding Pianists

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Since rearranging the living and dining rooms last week, we're using our stuff more. The piano is now in the dining room, and Laynie and I have both played it several times over the past week. Yup, Laynie plays the piano. She's learning.

Practicing...
video

Katie (my sister) was over on Sunday, and I had Laynie teach Katie while I cooked dinner. Teaching is the best way to cement your skills, right?

video
Laynie explains note values to Kate.


video
Good teacher! Good student!

[Wednesday, October 20, 2010]

Yay, She's Oral!

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Sometimes I wonder how much my students with CIs hear--or more like how much they miss. One student that I like to call "Glued-To-Me" showed me recently how much guesswork she's doing on a daily basis.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading (over several days) the Knuffle Bunny trilogy. I highly recommend these books, if you have not read them. In the first book, toddler Trixie and her daddy, who live in Manhattan, take their clothes to the laundromat, where they (gasp!) lose Trixie's stuffed bunny. The TOD and I spent some time discussing laundry and explaining what a laundromat is. We showed the children pictures, sequenced the process of doing laundry... I thought Favorite, Obsessed, and Oblivious had it, but Glued? You just never know. So I'm reading the book (using a combination of ASL, spoken English, and Sim-Com), and I got to the part where they go to the laundromat and load the washing machines. I asked the children, "Where did they go?" Favorite answered right away, signing "Laundry store," which was what I had dubbed the laundromat. Oblivious spoke, "Laundry." Close enough. I made Obsessed imitate my signs: "Laundry store" (she's not really a fan of communication). Glued's turn. Yes, she had seen/heard the answer three times (after I said it to begin with). I always ask her last, to give her a fighting chance at getting the right answer. Or at least close. And what, you must wonder, was her answer?

She signed and spoke... "Math."

Technically, she signed Math and spoke Mat. She can't say "th."

I guess you could confuse laundromat and math... if you completely ignored all the signing... sigh.

Today, we discussed Halloween, practicing describing words, such as, "scary ghost," "orange pumpkin," "furry bat." The kids were really into it. Every time you say the word Halloween, Glued says, "Hae-uh Tae-uh." Hannah Montana. Her costume. "This month is October. Soon it will be Hallo--" "Hae-uh Tae-uh." It's kind of cute how excited she is to be Hannah Montana.

So we used this simple book, Boo Who?, to work on the describing and on answering "who" questions... TOD took notes. The kids LOVE this, because she writes down what they say. As always, I did the reading, using both languages (sim-com or consecutively). After the book, I was describing things and having them look on the board (or use their brains!) to figure out what I was talking about. "It's white and scary. It says boo! It can fly." Glued said, "Gote!" I turned to her to correct her articulation, only to see that she had signed it as well... and her little V hand was on her forehead.

She was saying goat. Not mispronouncing ghost. Goat.

I would think that she would wonder how goats fit into Halloween, but I suppose there's so much she doesn't understand that she's used to things not making sense.

I like CIs, because the kids like them. Oblivious was heartbroken and became practically catatonic the day he broke his in PE. He cannot handle silence. Laynie loves her CIs, doesn't go a day without them--even though she is and always will be primarily an ASL user.

But it worries me when parents have their kids rely only on the cochlear implants for language development, because they are NOT like hearing people's hearing. Many kids do very well, but there will always be things they miss, and I hate to see guesswork involved in education. And yes, I suppose that there is more going on with Glued than just deafness... most deaf kids would at least pick up on the signs. She's just so used to relying on her hearing, because that's what she did as a toddler and preschooler (family only signs when her CIs are off, preschool program was TC but heavy on talking). Plus, she's mainstreamed nearly all day. Although there is an interpreter around, I think very little of what the interpreter says is comprehensible to her--too advanced, trying to meet Obsessed and Favorite's needs, and their language is a couple of years ahead of Glued's. Glued is definitely more attuned to her hearing than her vision for language. And now for education. But her hearing is not cutting it!

I will say what I've said in the past: Deaf kids need ASL.

{stepping off my soapbox}

Now that I'm off my soapbox, I want to write an addendum entitled "Good Things about Glued."
-She is very responsible. If she knows what to do or where to go, she is all over it.
-She is always happy to see me, especially on Thursdays, when I come to her school just for the afternoon. I feel like a celebrity walking in, the way she exclaims "Haytee!!" and nearly hyperventilates. (My name is Hasting, in case you couldn't tell. ;)
-She becomes beside herself with excitement when we both have a ponytail on the same day.
-She feels guilty when she answers wrong (I don't know if this is good so much as endearing).
-She wants to mother the other kids, especially Oblivious. She can often be found herding him to where he ought to be. Or waving at us and pointing to him, wrinkling up her nose. "Mammin no wur." [Name] no work. Her artic is so bad, I'm not even worried you'd get his real name from that. Sigh.
-She has a decent moral compass for a 6-year-old (although she has been known to smack kids who don't follow her motherly directives... hehe).
-She loves to be helpful--passing out pencils is her specialty.
-She is understanding of Obsessed's moods, often shrugging and giving me a wry smile when Obsessed snaps at her.
-She always wants to hold my hand and sit in my lap. She is very direct about it, too, pointing at my legs and saying, "Ap," or threading her little fingers into mine. Unfortunately, I can't let her... but it's the thought that counts.
-She looks up to her big sister SO MUCH. Apparently, she will sit and do "homework" with Mom for hours, as long as sis (several years older) is doing hers.
-Her smile always brightens my day.

Upsetting

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Favorite almost started crying Monday morning, saying that his right CI (pointing to the internal device, just anterior of where the coil sits) was hurting and itching. He had tears in his little eyes. We tried to send him home, but his parents could not be reached. Of course, I got in touch with his district audiologist (Ski Bum) right away, and she forwarded my email to the child's Johns Hopkins audiologist. I'll call her Useless. We heard nothing from Useless, and Favorite soldiered through the rest of the day.

On Tuesday, I stopped by before care (babysitting before school) to check on Favorite, who reported that his head hurts and itches still. I had a 504 meeting before school, so I went right into that. As the meeting finished, the teacher of the deaf came to the door to speak with me and Ski Bum, because favorite was now sitting in the nurse's office, in tears. He said it's red, it hurts, and it itches. Ugh. It actually was not red, but I understand that feeling. The nurse was annoyed that she couldn't get in touch with the family, as always. We finally got someone at the factory where dad works, and the guy agreed to track down dad and get him to call us. In the meantime, Ski Bum and I had Favorite try his implant turned off but stuck to his head, totally off his head, etc., just trying to see if anything made it better. And I was trying to ask him if it hurt when he woke up that morning. He said it did. It hurt all the time but was made worse by the processor being turned on.

He did end up going home that day. We tried to convey to his Baba that this is a BIG DEAL, and that he needs medical attention. To his credit, Baba brought the child in to see someone at the clinic at Hopkins that very day. We finally heard back from Useless, and she forwarded an email from the nurse practitioner:

I saw him today urgently. He was at school and when he put his right processor on, he had pain. They sent him home(W******* school). I saw no redness or middle ear problem. I had him turn it on and place it on his ear and head and there was no problem at all.
so they should try back up equipment then let someone know if there are still concerns. if the right ear is the new ear (and i cant look that up right now) it could be the feeling that happens when the nerves start working again after surgery.

I was so pissed, I didn't even answer. But Ski Bum did. She kind of let Useless have it, and Useless said she would mention it to the surgeon.

I realize that they don't want him to sign, but come on, we're talking about his health. He should have had an ASL interpreter.

Even without an interpreter, surely they can ask him to point to where it hurts. They could gesture. And he does understand the English word "hurt." He's eight years old; he is old enough to know where it hurts and to point to the correct area!

Today (Wednesday), I again checked on the little man in before care, and he said, with an exaggerated smile, "Better!" Eh? Okay...

Then the nurse called us down to let us know that before care had told her that when mom dropped off Favorite this morning, she filled his pockets with Skittles and told him to have a good day ALL DAY at school. (I love that before care keeps us informed... everyone really likes this kid and wants what's best for him.)

I hope he really does feel better.

[Friday, October 15, 2010]

What a Difference an S Makes

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I got to the school where I see my deaf kiddos yesterday during their lunch. I was waiting for a college student, who was coming out to observe me, so I hung out in the cafeteria, which is close to the front doors. Of course, my little Favorite came right up to me, as did Glued-to-Me girl (Obsessed with Speech and Oblivious were also there).

As a side note, Favorite and Obsessed got their math tests back yesterday. The ones I had administered on Wednesday. 95% and 90%. With no modifications! Standard issue district tests! Obsessed got moved from sped math to regular lowest math group math. Favorite was already there. And I spent most of math class yesterday trying to get her to look at the interpreter (TOD was out, and the sub was useless). Rolling my eyes. You'd think a deaf child would want to look at the person who makes sense, but she'd rather take the crumbs that fall from the general educator's hands. "Oh, she touched the number two on the board; I'll touch a random two on my paper." And she expects that the para will repeat any directions she missed (which would be all of them) and can't figure out by copying others, so she just ignores all the language coming out of the interpreter and waits for the Reader's Digest version from the para.

Anyway... Glued was trying to hold my hand and showing me her headband and how she put her lunch box on the cart, and Favorite came over to say hi. I'm going to differentiate between spoken and signed in this little story. It kind of matters.

I signed to ask him how he was, and he signed fine, and he spoke, "Obsessed!" and pointed to her. Well, he used her actual name. I signed, "Obsessed happy?" (Sadly, we're at the mercy of her moods.) He nodded, smiling. Then he frowned. He shook his head and spoke, "Obsessed bitch!" The lunch monitor (hearing, of course) gave me a "What do you people teach these kids?" look. He did NOT learn that at school! I said something to the para, who told me that he's been picking up vocabulary from his adult brothers. Hm. I went to where he was now sitting with Glued, and he looked at me and spoke again, "Obsessed bitch." I signed, "Obsessed what? Bitch?" He looked at me like I had ten heads. Of course he absolutely would not know the sign, since he sees signing only at school, and we would never swear in front of kids. Actually, we don't even swear when we're not in front of kids. I signed, "Word [spoken]bitch, [signed] not nice. Mean. Obsessed she friend." He shook his head and spoke again, "Obsessed bitch" while signing, "Obsessed speech."

Right. Thursday. Obsessed has speech. And it did relate to my original question of whether Obsessed was happy... Obsessed had probably been told scolded all morning for signing, "Speech! Speech! Speech!" during class. Yes, she signs with exclamation points. If you saw it, you'd agree.

I don't normally drill Favorite on his articulation, but I can see that there's one word we need to sit down and practice.

[Wednesday, October 13, 2010]

Little Smarty Pants

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So you all know that I have a favorite student... I don't exactly keep it a secret. I was really proud of him today!

He showed up to school last week with new CI processors on, ones that doesn't work with the FM system he had. The district audiologist came out yesterday to set him up with a neckloop FM receiver but realized that she had no idea whether his processors were set to work with a telecoil. His new processors have a remote control. Which was at home. And the family doesn't speak English. Or sign. (Yes, IEP meetings are interesting.)

So the audiologist found pictures of the remote online and told the child to tell Baba (dad) to let him bring it to school. We never know how much this child understands, and honestly, who's going to trust a first grader to bring something in when you ask them to do so?

Well, get what the little genius hands us this morning? That's right, the remote, in a Ziploc bag. Cindy (the teacher of the deaf) gave him a sticker. The kids consider me a human sticker dispenser, but Cindy? Getting a sticker from her is HUGE. Usually she rewards kids by putting a bottle opener shaped like a thumbs up on their desk.

Well, after we got said child set up with his new FM, it was time to administer a math test. We pull the kids for all math testing to reduce distractions. I was glad this test was on a day I was at that school, because we have two sets of kids: the youngers, who are pretty oral (though DELAYED) and the olders, who are pretty signy (though DELAYED). It's hard to give them a test and meet everyone's needs. Plus, the youngers take longer, and one of the olders will act up when she's bored. Today one of the youngers was absent, and Cindy gave the test to the other younger one on one. I gave the test to the olders. This was a good arrangement for the kids, because Cindy's more oral and I'm more signy--go figure, the SLP is more signy than the CODA. If I'm not there, she will speak the test and let the interpreter handle the signing.

Anyway, it was a district test. We were to read the directions as is, and we were to read each item, and the kids could use some visual supports that they had used in the classroom, but we couldn't help them, stop them if they were on the wrong track, etc. Neither of the olders used the extra supports. Actually, one tried to use the visual support of the other's paper, but I stopped that with a folder placed between them. Can't blame her for trying, I guess. She missed a few items, and my favorite missed one. One! The funny thing was that he didn't even need me to read the items to him--he read the English himself. What a good day for him.

I Did Good

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I have a little student that I met four or five months ago, when she was transitioning from the birth-three program to the preschool program. We were all set for her to be a Pals child, meaning that we would provide her IEP services in whatever preschool her parents placed her in, rather than having her come to a special education preschool. Wouldn't you know it, she got kicked out of the preschool due to losing her potty-trained status (got sick over the summer and developed hardcore potty fear).

We're now six weeks into the school year and the child has had no IEP services, because the special educator, who is the case manager, is new to preschool and is new to Pals, and she hasn't followed up on things. She'll send an email or leaves a message, and if no one responds, she just lets it go. Sometimes it's really frustrating that I'm not the case manager, although it's great when you work with a good special educator.

Technically, we couldn't have seen this child even if she had been in preschool, because she wasn't registered with the county (you have to do that before an IEP can be implemented), because the special educator didn't tell mom to do that. Ugh.

So our assumption has been that the child would go to the special education preschool at the local elementary school, since the family couldn't get her back into the private preschool. No one expected the potty training saga to drag on this long. Never underestimate the willpower of a nonverbal 3-year-old!

On Monday, the mom registered the child at the local elementary school and told someone there that she doesn't want their preschool. She has a good reason: she works late afternoon into the evening, and she loves her morning time with the child. The special education preschool is four days per week, and she wants more than one day with her child. I think it's great that mom is pushing to keep the child home a couple of days a week. But she was ready to deny services for the child, which I didn't think was great. Like I said: nonverbal 3-year-old.

Anyway, so that statement by mom set off the email chain. The special ed preschool teacher told us what she had said and asked what was going to happen at our IEP meeting on Wednesday (that would be today). The Pals special ed teacher (new girl) didn't know. Eh? Not an answer I can accept! I got fed up with people not getting down to brass tacks with mom, so I called her Monday evening. I knew she was a reasonable person, because I had worked with her to transition the child from IFSP to IEP, and she was great.

After a long chat, we got some things in motion. She has canceled on us several times now and avoided returning phone calls, and I learned that it was because she was nervous to face everyone after being kind of flaky up to now and because she honestly didn't know what she wanted for her child. Totally understandable! I explained what to expect at the meeting and gave her the names of other preschools to try, including one co-op that I adore. I worked it out to have home visits for "parent training," just to keep the child on an IEP until she's in preschool again and can have direct services. Parent training is currently being piloted by one special educator, so I was glad to get that approved. So we got all of that worked out Monday and yesterday, I modified the IEP document, and we were able to have a quick, smooth meeting today. And the mom shared that the super-awesome co-op I recommended has ONE space left in the 3's class! And they definitely do not require potty training!

The was nice. But here's the part that made me feel good:

The mom said she had been stressing herself out on Monday, not knowing what to do, feeling guilty for saying what she had said at the local elementary school, and that my phone call was exactly what she needed. Seeming kind of embarrassed, she said, "Actually, you were an answer to prayer."

[Friday, October 8, 2010]

Babies!!

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E and R in my now-babyproofed living room.

I love babies!!! Yesterday, I got to babysit the twins of a couple in our ward (church), who also live in my apartment complex. Laynie was home, so she also babysat them. They are so cute! They are 9 months old, and they are champion crawlers and cruisers. They can even stand unassisted for a few seconds, and I swear E tried to take a step. Fantastic gross motor skills.

Their babbling is a bit delayed (pretty common to develop either motor or communication skills but not both at the same time), but E plays with her tongue and makes a "lahdee lahdee lahdee" sound. R just started saying, "Da! Da! Da! Da!" I worked on "Mamamamama" with them, because babies who are at home all day with mom really ought to show some appreciation and say her name. No luck yet. They both SCREAMED with excitement when we brought them into the bathroom to bathe them. They were clawing at the tub, trying to climb in! We got to keep them right up until their bedtime--their parents showed up at the perfect time, just as they became truly crankified.

They are so cute. Seriously. And they have fantastic hair. And I get to babysit them again today! I wanted to help our their parents, who are packing and moving. :( But only about 15 minutes away. Sam is in med school at Johns Hopkins, and they are moving closer to where he is doing his rotations. When I said 15 minutes, that would be without beltway traffic. Where they are moving to is just inside the Baltimore beltway, so it will probably cut the commute greatly in the mornings and afternoons. I guess I understand why they have to move. I will miss holding babies during sacrament meeting, though. And watching Sam try to contain one baby while Sara is out changing the other. E loves to shriek randomly during the meeting. I guess she's following the infantile philosophy of, "If I've got a voice, I might as well use it!"

E is eating a maraca and a drumstick, and R is just looking pretty.

[Wednesday, October 6, 2010]

Fourth Brandi Carlile Show!

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Laynie and Katie and I went to another Brandi Carlile concert. It was great! Except...

There were these drunk women that were being real jerks--pushing and shoving, swinging their heads around, getting in people's faces. I don't know why they didn't get bounced. They happened to be right behind us, and at one point, one of them actually hit her head into Laynie's head. Laynie gestured that she had hit her head, grabbed the woman by the arms, and pushed her back. Haha. They kept trying to strike up conversations (yes, while Brandi was performing and being AMAZING), and they were miffed when people said things like, "Look, I just want to enjoy the show." While one of the drunk women was singing loudly and off-key, a girl in front of us politely asked them to keep it down, and the woman responded, "Oh, am I too loud? I'm bothering you. Oh, I'm so sorry. SUCK IT BITCH!" They kept yelling things to Brandi, especially the one girl. Brandi usually responds to people when they call out to her, but not these dumb girls--she totally ignored them. The drunkest, loudest girl got in my face at one point, and she kept asking me to lean in to her so she could talk to me. Yeah, right. When I wouldn't, she said, "Let's just be sweet, come on, we're just trying to have fun." At other people's expense! Most people were really patient with these idiots, but it was hard to pay attention to what was going on, and I probably missed about a third of the show dealing with their crap.

They started trying to push their way up to the front (the show was at the Rams Head in Baltimore, which, if you haven't been there, is just an open house with a bar--no chairs except the few bar stools), and people shoved them back. Hehe... Laynie shoved them back the second time they tried, wagging her finger at them. They'd go back and head bang, laugh, spill their drinks on people and the floor, basically be raucous, then they'd try again. Finally, they got around us and the girls in front of us, and they bothered the people in front of them. They were trying to rush the stage. Whatever, they were way too drunk to be able to climb up. As they'd get behind new people who hadn't dealt with them before, they would be propelled further forward--no one wanted them nearby. They ended up at the very front (like 8 feet in front of us), where they stayed for a while. Oh my gosh, they were partying hard! Whatever.

As the encores were starting, I saw the girls making their way back through the crowd toward us. I was thinking NOOOOOO. Go back to the front. Then I noticed their faces--green! Especially the girl who had been having the most fun. She looked like she was really to puke any second. They were totally subdued now.

It was so pleasant after they left. Everyone was able to listen to Brandi and enjoy the wonderful performance. She did a few covers, including a new one that I hadn't heard her do before. It was so good! Forever Young. Thanks to whomever uploaded that onto YouTube!

On the way out, I noticed one of Brandi's picks on the floor, unclaimed! Swooped in and picked up that bad boy. Now I have two of them. :)

As I drove home, I started thinking how much the situation with the drunken fools reminded me of Lehi's dream. The people in the party house think they're so much better than everyone else, that they are having F-U-N and the people behaving themselves are losers. But it's not going to last. And guess who gets to hear the awesome Forever Young cover at the end? Not them!

[Tuesday, September 28, 2010]

Presume Competence

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Last night I went to special ed back to school night. One of my little first grade students was there! He showed me a shiny new iPod touch and emphasized, "Mine. Mine." I guess he got it for his birthday two weeks ago. He showed me the cool games, and I asked him if he was planning to play during the meeting, which he was. Back to school night is for parents, not kids.

We had an ASL interpreter there for a deaf parent who didn't show up, and the interpreter made the decision to stay for my little guy. It was really sweet how he watched the interpreter for a good 20-30 minutes, although the presentations were way over his head. Polite. One thing that was discussed during the meeting was a new buzzword in county, which we got from our awesome consultant for the year, Paula Kluth. The phrase du jour is "presume competence." Act is if. Act as if the child is already a reader. He will be. Act as if he already can walk. Maybe he will. Act as if she understands. Maybe she does. We've all heard stories of kids thought to have severe cognitive disabilities in addition to severe autism... Only to find out later that the child understood everything going on around her. Google Carly Fleishmann.

After the meeting, the teacher of the deaf and I greeted "our" parents, and while she spoke with little man's mother and adult brother (through a foreign language interpreter--enough people involved without me), I let my student show me how to lose at Street Fighter. And how to torture stick figures in StickWars ("Look! Blood!"). After a while, he went back to the home screen and noticed that the battery was less than half full. He said, "Oh! Eat!" and mimed plugging it in. I said (and signed--our agreement is TC with him, although I'd rather do a bi-bi thing of keeping talking and signing separate), "Power. It needs power." He got VERY annoyed with me, and said, "No, eat! Food!" I could not believe that this bright (though language delayed) child was being told that electronic devices need to eat. So I had to tell him that people eat food, machines like this use electricity, when you plug it in power goes through the wire and fills up the device's battery, etc. He said, "Power eat?" Close enough.

The reason I bring this up is because it is such a perfect example of presuming INcompetence. He could have understood power in this context--as much as any other first grader understands it. But in a culture where deaf=retarded (with all the connotations of that word), he doesn't stand a chance at being smart. Knowledge is kept from him by well-meaning people.

Treat them like they're smart and maybe they will be. That's presuming competence. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

[Monday, September 27, 2010]

Small World

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The deaf world (well, Deaf world) is famous for being small. In fact, I remember "small world" being a phrase I learned very early on in ASL, when the teacher showed us her old boss on the Signing Naturally video.

A couple of weeks ago, I interpreted for a woman who asked me listen to her hearing daughter and tell her if the child was pronouncing words wrong... and later one of my students brought in a "My Weekend" book with the very same child's face in all the pictures.

The LDS world is apparently also small.

I work on the Pals team, which includes special educators, paraeducators, and related service providers from different schools all over the county. A few years ago, when I started on the team, I found out that one of the paras was LDS. Actually, she figured out that I was, because I wore a BYU sweatshirt.

This past Saturday, I agreed to help set up for the Relief Society broadcast activity at the stake center. When I got there, they didn't need help setting up in the gym, which they anticipated needing me for, so I helped out in the kitchen. There were three ladies on the kitchen team. They were each at least old enough to be my mother and had known each other for upwards of 20 years, and it was hard for me to get a foothold in their chatter... until I heard one mention that at her school they did such and such. I asked if she works in Howard County.. yes..
me: Oh, so do I. Which school?
Deep Run Elementary.
me: I work at Waverly Elementary.
Oh really, what do you do there?
me: I'm a speech language pathologist. [getting ready to explain what that is]
So am I! I work in the RECC.
me: I work in the deaf/hh program and the Pals program. [she knows that Pals is a RECC program]

That's right. Not only do we work for the same school district and share the same profession, we even work in the same "specialty" of the RECC (meaning preschool/kindergarten). And we happened to be in that small group of people preparing food for the RS broadcast dinner.

It makes me wonder how many other members of the church work for Howard County. I know that they had another LDS freelance interpreter until she moved last year. When the interpreter coordinator first hired me and found out I was LDS (BYU on my resume gave me away), she told me that, as well as how much she loved LDS people. She had a great neighbor who was a member of the church.

When she hired me, I'm sure she thought, "Small world!"

[Saturday, September 25, 2010]

Kids Are the Darndest Things

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I love little kids. They can make me mental sometimes, but at least there is never a dull moment. I have recently had the pleasure of experiencing:

A student who has become obsessed with going to speech, signing speech about a thousand times a day. She even told her teacher she was going to the cubbies just so that she could look through my window to see what exciting things her classmate was doing. This started last week and is already so bad that she cannot concentrate in school, because she's thinking about speech all the time. Hopefully the behavior specialist can give us some strategies. Funny, I used to have to give this same child the choice of speech or thinking chair (time out) last year.

A four-year-old in a preschool where I have an IEP student, who came up to where I was writing notes in the "housekeeping" area of the classroom with the conversation opener, "How old is your Honda?" My keys were in the table. That's right, this four-year-old recognized the Honda symbol on a key and instead of saying Hi to me asked that. Although I was tempted to say, "My friend, you might be on the spectrum," I said, "Well, it's a 2006." He nodded knowingly.

A student who loved speech so much last year that he chose it over PE. He's a boy. Boys don't choose anything over PE. When I went to get him out of content recently, he signed, "Don't-want. Later." Sniff.

A student who loves me so much that she gives new meaning to the phrase "on me like white on rice." She wants to sit on my lap, hold my hand, lean her head on my knee. It breaks my heart to tell her no.

A student who boxed my ear when I bent down to say hi to him. He wasn't having a bad day or anything. Something was in front of him and he punched it. End of story.

[Sunday, September 12, 2010]

They Are Listening!

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I blogged here about how I began singing the Books of the Old Testament song to my Primary class in February, and that I was excited that they had finally begun joining in to sing with me almost two months later. The reason I introduced this song to them was because it's what helps me find scriptures, and I was thinking along the lines of "teach a man to fish." I could just tell them the page numbers, or I could give them the same references they will use for the rest of their lives (chapters/verses) and teach them how to find the scriptures themselves. After each time we sing the song, I tell them where we will be for the lesson and sing a bit of the song, kind of making my thoughts audible. "Today we will begin with 1 Kings, chapter 17. Hm, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Samuel, Kings... that's the one! So I'll start kind of close to the beginning and I'll know I'm on the right track if I see Joshua or one of the Samuels. First Samuel.. First Kings!" Totally stream-of-consciousness. And I stream-of-consciousness them, too: "Leah, I see you're on the right track! You're in Joshua.. keep going.. Samuel, Samuel, there it is, Kings!" Yes, I get a bit cheerleadery. Scripture skills are important. The kids humor me, probably because I'm so happy when they find the chapter they are looking for.

But I hadn't heard the kids use this strategy themselves. Until today!

We were in Sharing Time (large group: our class plus two others), and my class was split into two groups; each group was to read a scripture and identify which gospel standard (from a list) related to that scripture. I worked with the two boys, and the three girls were going to work on their own. They were given the scripture Exodus 20:7. I was listening to make sure they began on the right track, when I heard one of the girls, the youngest child in my class, who never raises her hand, who speaks inaudibly when called on in Sharing Time, about whom I have worried so much that I was almost ready to call her mother to make sure the child was happy in class and it wasn't too far over her head (presuming competence, I pretty much teach them like they were Seminary students, filling in gaps as needed)... this timid child said to the two older girls she was working with, "Genesis, Exodus, oh, it's gonna be near the front."

The things I do make a difference. I floated home from church today on cloud nine.

[Wednesday, September 8, 2010]

Smart Me

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{totally off-topic picture}

I'm so proud of myself. As you know, I hadn't blogged for a while, and I also hadn't visited my blog. When I tested the post a couple of days ago, a twitter prompt was popping up. Eh? That was new. I tested my site again today and it was still popping up.

I knew it must have been something in the HTML code of the template, and I began looking at new templates. I figured I would never be able to fix that. I do kind of like the one I have, though. So I decided to try to troubleshoot the HTML. Scary, right? I don't know very much about reading and writing HTML. But I found the offending lines of code and deleted them! I am so proud of myself! Just wondering how it got there in the first place...

[Monday, September 6, 2010]

Similarly to Phyllis Nefler...

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...I've lost my will to blog!

Maybe not exactly lost my will... I want to write things, but sometimes I'm lazy, sometimes I'm busy, and sometimes I just can't say that "in public." The internet is as public as it gets, right? So that means I can't say much about work.

But I can say some things about work. I went back two weeks ago, and the kids started last week. Yippee. I didn't really get a summer break, because I was working. Not full time, but still.. working. Blah. I'm happy to have my deaf kiddos back, though. One child has been SO on the ball since coming back. Our fingers are crossed that it continues. They're all doing at least as well as they were in the spring, which is a relief.

I haven't begun working with my Pals children yet. Pals is an itinerant position where my county has me visit children in private preschools and daycares to work with them there, rather than bringing the children into special education preschools. It's wonderful for children whose disabilities are not severe, and it's wonderful for parents who are uncomfortable with the idea of special education. This week, Pals team members will meet with parents and settings to get an agreement signed so that we can work with the children again this school year. Hopefully we can start seeing the kids next week.

Speaking of Pals... my Pals "home base" has been one school, Dayton Oaks Elementary, while the deaf program is in another school, Waverly Elementary. Dayton is not close to any of the preschools and daycares where I have Pals students, so I didn't really make it out there much last year. I guess it was my home base because I worked with preschool students in the Dayton Oaks special education preschools two years ago, so it made sense. It no longer makes sense, so I asked the powers that be to have my basehood transferred to Waverly. A couple of hours later, I was officially a full-time Waverly person! Not that I'll spend more time there than I already did, because it is just as far from the Pals preschools/daycares... but it will be easier to decide what to do on days when preschool has no services, professional days, etc. Mainly, it will decrease my guilt at only hitting up Dayton Oaks once a quarter. They had even started sending my mail to Waverly by the end of last school year. Yeah. I was "that" person.

This year, I get to work with little guys and gals who have hearing loss, language disabilities, autism, selective mutism, speech disabilities, cognitive impairment, and autism. And my caseload is still small. It will grow, as it always does. But it looks like a have a bit of variety to begin with, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge of selective mutism. It means the child understands everything (or at least as well as others the same age) but refuses to speak to most people. Typically, they will speak in their home, without strangers present, or they will speak to other children at school but not to any adults. Fun times, right? When you can help them feel secure enough to communicate with more people, it's the best.

So, there is already drama in one of my programs. I won't go into it, but I'm just mentioning it because it brings me to one of the highlights of my work week. I had the opportunity to sit down with some professionals while they worked out issues, and I tried to be a neutral party. It wasn't hard, because I could see both of their perspectives. I was also trying to defend one person I know has a tendency to freeze and lose her train of thought when under pressure--but I tried to do so without offending another person, who is someone I respect and who, frankly, has a great deal of power. Afterward, two people higher up on the food chain told me that they were pleased that I was on the team at this school, that I was a good communicator, had a level head... just saying nice things. One of them is a person I never thought particularly cared for me, so it was nice to hear that from her. Hope she tells my boss!

Aside from work... let's see...

I got to babysit the twins again! Oh my, I haven't blogged in so long, I probably haven't mentioned the first time I babysat them. A couple from church has twin baby girls, who are about 8 months old now; last month, while Laynie was at her family reunion, I babysat them. First non-family babysitter, which was probably because their very young mom respects me as a former nanny. Whatever, I got to play with babies!!!!! They are so cute, and their personalities are already so different. One is adventurous and independent (backward-crawling into corners and under furniture), and the other is a bit clingier but likes to be up high and see everything. And she has an infectious giggle. Of course, they are both delightful. Well, last week, Laynie got to go with me and babysit them again. It was much easier with two people! Naturally, I got the fun jobs like booger-extracting (both had colds) and diarrhea-diaper-changing, but it was so nice to have company and an extra set of hands. One (Miss Independent) was HILARIOUS when I fed her. Even after having her nose suctioned, she couldn't breathe and eat at the same time, so she would greedily slurp for as long as I left the bottle in her mouth. The formula would run down into her neck folds... oh gosh. She would noisily suck on the bottle until I pulled it from her mouth, which would about every 10 seconds. I was afraid she'd drown herself! Then she'd gasp for air, milk running right out of her mouth. Laynie was cracking up. Miss Independent's sister, Miss Giggles, is going with "starve a cold." I know, 8-month-olds don't make very good decisions. Anyway, I had a great time with the girls, and I'm about ready to call their mom and ask if she doesn't have something she needs to do outside the home... child-free.

Ah, church. Church is great. My class is great. I never know who's going to be there, because apparently some families take loooooong vacations... and some take many vacations. But I love, love, love my kiddos. They are professional tangent-inducers. And I am always good for a digression, so we're a great team. Yesterday, a lesson on Rehoboam and the impact of peer pressure devolved into a 10-minute discussion on who Jews are and what the deal is with Hanukkah, which they now want to celebrate. Oy vey.

On to my next topic: Bug. Laynie is still a happily-implanted girl. I laugh when one of her batteries dies and she has to take off the other one, because hearing with one ear is just not pleasant. What a Picky Patricia! I guess I can't knock it, because I haven't been there. It IS pretty annoying if I lie down to watch TV and a pillow blocks one of my ears. I guess having NO hearing in one ear would be worse. But she had no hearing in *both* ears for so long! Anyway, she can still understand some simple words in context. She understood something recently that surprised me.. I'm trying to remember what it was. Oh, yeah. I was in the bathroom, and Laynie yelled through the door, "What do you want for dinner?" I understood her (yay!) and called back, "I don't know!" She understood me (a billion yays!) and said, "You don't know??" It was a really productive conversation. The other day when I stayed late--very late--at work, I guess Laynie got worried, because she called my cell phone. I showed it to my friend, Cindy, teacher of the deaf, who got all excited. She got to hear a scintillating call, which went something like this:
Me: Hello?
Laynie: Hi, Annie.
Me: Hi.
Laynie: Are you coming home?
Me: Yes.
Laynie: OK.
Me: OK.
Laynie: Bye.
Me: Bye.

Cindy got all misty-eyed, saying how she would have loved to have had even that simple a conversation with her deaf mother over the phone. Cindy's such a good egg. I can always count on her for a cheer when little listening triumphs happen. I'm sure there have been more of those little triumphs lately, but I just can't think of any. It's going to take a long time for Laynie to learn to listen--especially if I continue to sign voice-off! After a couple of tough years learning not only to turn off my voice when I sign but not even to mouth English words (ASL grammar!), it's really hard to use my voice at home. It's hard to remember, and it feels awkward when I do. Usually, I only use my voice when I'm mad. Not that I get mad... Anyway, I always notice the quietness of my home after my sister has been around. We get pretty noisy together, and the difference is glaring. Laynie always comments on how LOUD we are, and Katie tosses back, "Quit being so hearing then!"

Laynie is getting very good at identifying environmental sounds. She can describe a sound (with classifiers, which turn out to be far superior for describing sounds than any English words) and predict what probably made that sound. Next stop, speech? I guess time will tell.

Well, isn't this just like me? Once I get going, there's no stopping me! I guess I'll call it quits for today. I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the school year, fall, and whatever other transitions are going on in your lives.

[Wednesday, July 7, 2010]

Watery Weekend

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Laynie and I went up to New York last weekend to babysit the Honor kids while Maureen and Eric went away. We had a great time, especially taking pictures in the pool. Water-proof camera!

Me and my favorite kids: Carson, age 7, Morgan, age 10, and McConn, age 6.

The pool area. You can see a little Laynie in the top right corner, ready to go down the slide.

The slide went pretty fast... surprisingly fast, apparently.

Morgie on the slide.

Heehee, what a geek.

McConn is so light, she practically flies up the side!


Laynie and her getting-less-little-all-the-time boy (too bad Laynie's face is blocked by bubbles). It is a well-known fact that Carson adores Laynie and is the only one who does not need my help to communicate with her. He doesn't sign either. I think they might use telepathy.

McConn smells like teen spirit... oh, nevermind.

Me and Mor. Everybody had fun taking underwater pictures.

The kids showed off their personalities...


McConn's personality is a model/singer/actress/princess.

I don't know why I like this pictures so much.. Carson is just stinking cute.

Me and my favorite boy!

Can you believe these children have a pool and did not know about chicken fighting? We were able to educate them. (Videography by Morgan)


I still can't believe Laynie let Morgie get on her shoulders. I told her no!

Poor Laynie.

McConn wasn't really good at the whole "using your muscles" thing.

But she was very good at carrying her older brother!

We threw the little kids around for a while.


They showed off their awesome jumps.



"Save me from these insane people?"

The next day, the kids went to a friend's house and we had the pool to ourselves. Yay! Time to play with the camera...

It's hard to take a good underwater picture.

Very hard...

Got one!

Little devil Laynie.



Scary girl!

See? Crazy eyes.

I love swimming!


We had a good time in New York, and I want to go back again before the end of the summer. Next time, Katie, you are coming with! Two musketeers need the third!