The Penny

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

[Monday, September 6, 2010]

Similarly to Phyllis Nefler...

...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.


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