The Penny

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

[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!