Learning It, Living It!

Hello Parents of D/HH children,

I titled this post "Learning It, Living It." I have learned a lot from two conferences I attended these past few months and I want to share with you this info. I have been "living it" as well which refers to the world of hearing loss. Two of my three children are Hard Of Hearing. So at these work conferences, I am learning it while living it.

In September, I attended the 13th annual Hands & Voices leadership conference in Estes Park, Colorado. Wow, the view and fresh, thin, hard to breathe in air! This was H&V's 20th year celebration. H&V was established in Colorado in 1996 with the mission statement, "What works for your child is what makes the choice right." I was there as a parent & as a Parent Guide through my work with the Georgia Guide By Your Side Program.  Friday night we opened with a powerful intro mixer after dinner. Jonah Berger, owner of The Rhythm Within, gave us all (hearing, Deaf, deaf, & HH) music instruments such as shakers. His message was not only the power of music bonding people, but that our Deaf/HH children can 'hear" the music whether it be through vibrations, visual cues, or via assistive technology. Saturday, the first Plenary was "In the Hands & Voices Beginning: The Genesis of Genius." The three women who helped start H & V: Leeanne Seaver, Cheryl Johnson, & Janet DesGeorges, did a poetry slam of the story of how H&V came to be. The title, 'Do it anyway' meaning above all odds & obstacles do what is in your gut and heart.  I wish I had it on video...will look. Plenary II's, The Nebraska Way: Collaborating for Success, speaker was John Wyvill from Nebraska. He did a very eye-opening activity. He asked us to raise our hands if we knew who was running for president. Everybody did. Then he went from national, to state, to local official knowledge, and people started putting their hands down. Is point was a great one in that laws that affect our children directly and on a daily basis come from our local governments. He wanted to challenge us to become knowledgeable of our local officials and to collaborate with them for advocacy of our D/HH children. I loved the part where he said don't go ask for favors...invite them to your events just to educate them, build that relationship and then over time maybe they will be able to help you out legislatively. Saturday night is bonding time. We have what is called "up-time activities." Conference participants got to choose from nature walks, jewelry making, wine tours, & Stanley Hotel Haunting tour. On Sunday, the last day, Plenary III was about Support Stewardship: Self Care & Sustainability. Jessica Dallman talked about common pitfalls of working in a role that supports other people, rewarding but mentally taxing. We ended the conference with what is called, "The Naming Circle." It's always the most intimate & emotional time. I always want to capture it in a picture or video, but it's so personal I never do. We all hold hands and as the microphone is passed around you say (lift up) your Deaf/HH child(ren)'s name(s.) We are standing in that moment and using our voices to lift up those that don't have a voice (literally or figuratively.)

In October, I attended the 7th International Pediatric Audiology Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme was A Sound Foundation Through Early Amplification 2016 and was sponsored by Phonak. I professionally went as a Parent Guide for the Georgia Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side Program. Below are the notes that I took. I want to share with my hearing loss moms and people in the field. I did my best to interpret the facts right even though sometimes the information was heavy in Audiology, and as you know I am not a doctor. The conference had many personal moments for me as well, because I am a mother of two children that have hearing loss. I wanted to go to the conference to learn more about emerging technology to share with our Guide families and for my personal kids. After, the first day, I was very affected by what I had heard. Everything they talked about in facts, statistics, & technology translates into my daily life.  I live what they preach. They were talking about my family. I was humbled & appreciated this group of professionals that had dedicated their life’s work to helping our kids. I was expecting an air of boasting at this conference about technological advances, afterall, the conference was sponsored by a technology company, Phonak. They were very proud& excited about how far technology has come, but I was dumbfounded at how they talked about technology exceptions, failures, & loopholes. They really owed their shortcomings and strived for a better future for our children.  So I learned a lot , I appreciated their dedication, but in all honesty, this conference really had me questioning have I done enough to help my own children, especially in the classroom. Notes below. Like I said I wrote down speaker’s statements and all of it is heavily based on research which they showed via graphs/diagrams/case studies. Disclaimer-My notes from the conference were written as factually & objectively as possible. I have included my "mom opinion notes" which is my opinion or interpretation of these facts. They are my personal opinion not that necessarily of H & V.

Day 1:  Conference

1. Conference Opening-Keynote-Music, Hearing Loss & Cochlear Implants: The Next Frontier by Charles Limb

  • Music is a tool for hearing. Music has a broader range than speech. Hearing aids filter so might not hear music as clearly. CI Users-not hearing music great like pitch and tuning. Musical emotion is altered in CI users because not hearing major & minor…just fast and slow tempos. Beethoven was profoundly Deaf by the time he wrote the 9th symphony. This is amazing based on research mentioned above. He lost hearing, but already had trained the brain musically.  His brain was still “hearing” even though he wasn’t’. So this guy wants to focus on music as a tool for hearing, because he believes music is very important to the brain. Solutions-personalized pitch mapping & Music training for kids. His example-He said that white cats are prone to be born Deaf. He showed a video of a cat that got an implant. The cat only would respond to the song that was associated with him getting food. He showed no response to other songs. Connecting that the brain can be trained via music. 
  •  My Mom opinions-I felt sad and did not know that CI users were not hearing music like hearing peers. We think it is cute that our daughter sings & hums out of tune around the house, but sadly it might be reflective of how her hearing aids are translating music to her. They showed a couple of videos of adult musicians that had lost their hearing in adulthood and they were upset that they had lost the music fine tuning that we take for granted. I also know that many of us music lover moms were concerned when we found out about our kids. We did not want them to miss out on the music. The positive is though, they hear music, the technology community is working to fix these issues, and they are also focusing in on the importance of music. 

2. Session 1: Back to the Basics: Current Approaches in Infant Hearing Assessment

  • The Use of CE-Chirp Stimuli-Yvonne Sininger-CE Chirp is a stimulus that reorganizes time of spectral stimulus to synchronize cochlear response. If I can correctly interpret this, she is saying this is new technology reading for more accurate ABRs. She also showed the cochlea and where the ranges are found which was very interesting.   So you can personalize it by seeing which part of your child’s cochlea is affected  while looking at your audiogram.
  • OAEs-Carolina Abdala-OAEs are low level sounds produced in the cochlea. When sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear. Healthy hair cells are required to produce oticostic emissions. Cochlea makes normal sounds as well. 2 types of OAEs distortion (healthy cochlea creates combination tones) & reflection (natural biological roughness of cochlea meaning it has natural bumps.) So the OAE test is checking for this. What affects the test? Interesting was Aspirin, cochlear immaturity, aging
  • My mom opinion-notice that there was no talk of “well maybe there is fluid in the ear from a c-section” that we have been told ourselves or parents commonly tell us the newborn hearing screeners say this to them in the hospital. I have read that fluid can be present, but we find that it either sets parents up for a false hope or a lack  of urgency.
  • ABR & OAE both needed for hearing loss confirmation. OAE screening does not test all frequencies and has a 90% hit rate for detecting hearing loss IF BEYOND 40D.  Reflection emissions come from peaks and can detect mild hearing loss. OAE’s miss mild hearing loss many times hence why they suggest doing ABR & OAEs.
  • My mom opinion-My oldest failed the OAE hearing screening in the hospital. Two weeks later he was given it again and they said “passed”, but at the age of 4 he was diagnosed with bilateral high frequency hearing loss. So I would like newborn hearing screenings to do ABR & OAEs in hospital or if they fail the lst OAE then the follow up should not be another OAE…it should be an ABR.
  • Bridging the gap between early hearing device fitting & behavioral assessments-Kevin Munro- He is from the UK. He started with a powerful statement. “36 families during this conference will find out they have a Deaf baby.” England was the 1st country to have universal hearing screening program. 10 months was avg. age in the past to get Hearing aids. Now it is 2 to 3 months. Parents want to be reassured that HA are making a difference. Parents have a lot going on.
  • Infants, Auditory Steady-state responses-Susan Small from Canada- Her talk was making a case for a better system than ABRs called ASSRs (auditory steady-state responses.) ABR-brief tones (new version is using Chirps which I already discussed above), takes a lot of skill to read and need training, subjective, where as ASSRs are frequency specific, objective,  takes 2/3 the time of an ABR, and you can do both ears at once.

3. Session 2-The School Age child
  • Understanding Listening-Induced Fatigue in School Age Children with Hearing loss. –Ben Hornsby- WARNING TO PARENTS-This was the toughest presentation I sat through. This researcher was interested in how fatigued our hearing loss children are. He showed many graphs and data and based on that he said something shocking. Fatigue sometimes for our children is greater than of a chronic ill child with diseases such as cancer or MS!! Physiologically ,Stress is needed in order to avoid depression. Cortisol is regulated by hypothalamus and levels go up when stressed. Cortisol is rapidly released when you wake up and then declines through the day. Abnormal cortisol caused by stress. HL kids have higher cortisol awakening…saying burnout stress like adults. Listening fatigue can lead to behavior problems. Relax, avoid high fats, & exercise.

  • There’s a Brain between those Cochleae-Dawna Lewis-This researcher had  been in the field for a long time and was talking about how she personally and the medical community has started to understand more about how the brain hears not the ear. You could check out Boystown National Research hospitial https://www.boystownhospital.org/. Bilateral HL hard to focus and pay attention to 2 speakers & noise. Unilateral HL have localization problems.

  • The Path to Self Determination-Cheryl Johnson (Yes-that is our Cheryl from Hands & Voices National.) She talked about self-advocacy. Developing an Identity-get groups of D/HH peers together. Disability is not a deficiency, but a difference. The group of kids she surveyed –Only 12% using FM-why? 50% social reasons, then next was because didn’t see the benefit (Side note-I didn’t understand this, but I did later after I heard about how FM system needs evolving b/c classrooms are changing. However,Another speaker said that the FM system is still the most significant tool developed for HL kids.) , 3rd was mechanical, comfort, and support. Roger Pens the kids loved!
  • Hear the World Foundation-Dr seewald- http://www.hear-the-world.com/This man gave a dose of perspective in the room. Up until this point of the day, people had been focusing on advancing technology which is wonderful..but this guy told us about the Dominican Republic is just trying to get a hearing clinic up and running. If you go to the website below you can see the amazing work they are doing by providing grants to countries in order to help kids with hearing loss. On their about page- One of the biggest challenges is that 80 percent of people with hearing loss live in low- to middle-income countries and often do not have any access to audiological or medical care. In low-income countries, for example, only one in 40 people with hearing loss wears a hearing aid.
Day 2 conference:

1. Session 3-Hearing Technologies

  •  Influences of Auditory Experience on the outcomes of children with hearing aids-Mary Pat Moeller- Degree of HL and correlation of outcomes is inconsistent in research. What’s important is Duration of HA use, having HA, and linguistic input.  Outcomes Acronym- ACCESS (Audibility, carefully fit and closely monitored, consistently worn(  at least 7 to 13 hours a day for school age kids), environmental conducive, selected at-risk areas, service provision. The greater the HL, the poorer language outcomes are. By 6y of age we see kids have a major separation in language if aids aren’t benefiting them b/c of the ACCESS above. Need more than 10 hours of HA wear. If stop wearing them or inconsistently wearing them then outcomes are inconsistent. Research shows kids with mild hearing loss benefit by wearing ha and puts them more in the normal hearing language group. Grammar is at greater risk than vocabulary for our kids. Risk for underestimation of service needs can produced big differences by the time 5/6y old.
  • Teen Tech Users-Christine Jones- Kids are working more in groups at school now not the old teacher lecture style. FM system-teacher focused-old model. 80% of day kids are in speech & noise. 22% frontal instruction 34% group work. Survey done on kids age 13-18. 64% HA, 5% CI, 28% had moderate hearing loss, 50% used Roger, 50% used FM. Why do you like using FM or Roger- 1. Hear teacher, understand peers, media. 2. Improve confidence 3. Focus on attention, 4. Better grades. Less important for them was being tired or use because their parents want them to  J. Reason why they stopped using this important assistive technology? 1. Cosmetically, the feel, didn’t see benefit, don’t hear the peers. Note-they didn’t mind giving the fm to the teacher to wear. So this researcher found that this technology was beneficial, but self consciousness played a role in them not using it. So maybe some confidence building. The ones that said did not see benefit is not b/c the technology is not beneficial it’s because of this ladies whole topic of how the classroom has changed. FM system might work in younger years, but they have come out with Roger Pen which has directional microphones and Roger Touchscreen mic that is used for small group settings.
  • My mom opinion-This speaker had me really rethinking use of technology at school. We really love the FM system at school and see it’s great importance…..however, If only a small portion of the day is the teacher talking then do I need to have other assistive devices for small groups etc?
  • Hear well or Hearsay?-Jace Wolfe-He talked about auditory brain development and how crucial it is to implant and aid early. A cat’s critical period was before 5 months. They implanted after that and there was significant delays. Kids after 3 years will experience delays, but earlier the better for outcomes. Dynamic FM is better than a traditional FM. Outside the classroom, kids really struggle-in the car seat, on bus, in stroller, shopping carts. There distance away from you could also be helped with a personal device such as Roger.  Surveys say that the most helpful device was in this order : Roger Pen, Roger Touchscreen, Minimic 2(omnidirectional), Minimic, just Has.
  • My mom opinion- I am thinking now about personal assistive devices at home and at play such as in sports.
  • Technology for Unilateral hearing loss Panel- Profound UHL affected speech and language. Causes of UL-cochlear nerve deficiency (something about use to think this was mumps?), inner ear malformations. No firm conclusions can be drawn on whether to implant UHL. *No device restores normal hearing…something we need to be honest about to parents…the panel said. Then they debated CROS hearing aids for UHL. If I am right it is where HA wore on good ear and transmits to poor ear. Most on panel were not in favor of them due to losing audibility with noise and distance. CROS aids not recommended until a child is able to control their environment and turn different settings on and off. One doctor stood up and said that he has seen kids indentified early having UHL and cochlear implants were successful. And then added…What is success for the family? To be able to hear, talk, or both. Oct 22nd next year is Pediatric conference on Unilateral Hearing loss in Philly.
  • Parent-to-Parent Support-Shelia Moodie from Canada. Evidence of course shows parent support is helpful. She had a model for family based early intervention which included this relationship between the supporting parent and the learning parent. 3 categories under this plan: well being(child self determination, participation, goals, emotional support), knowledge(impacts, advocacy, system navigation, education, transitions), & empowerment(competence, confidence, problem solving.)

Day 3- conference

1. Case Conferences & Looking Toward the future

  • Hearing aid fitting in Canada-Marlene Pigeon – Get ready for this amazing process in Canada. In Canada this was an example of their process-Day of diagnosis-they do a CMV test, genetic test, ENT referral (appt within a month). One week later-communication development plan, av therapy partners once a week, counseling for family, and visit home/daycare. At 3 months get HA (fitting audiologist and av therapist work together.) Most babies fit with FM capability soon after..wow! Track speech. Help in transition meetings. 
  • Auditory Brainstem Implantation in children-Craig buchman- 3 in 1000 babies have HL. $1 mill in a child’s lifetime is the cost of not “treating them.” Which I understood what he meant. the figures show that if they would pay for hearing aids on the front end and focus on early intervention it saves the state special education on the back in.  Criteria for ABI-sev to profound SNHL and other requirements that he said too fast. 2012 FDA approved. 2013-1st child implanted. Results of 5 kids at his clinic that he implanted with ABIs: 3 had CIs before, 2 to 5 y in age, 2 of the 5 had CHARGE syndrome. All use total communication. 2 had complications of CF leakage & meningitis…but lived. It gets real here: 3 years later-all have AUDITORY AWARENESS. They WILL NOT establish oral language only environmental awareness. Limited speech perception. Then he talked about based on these outcomes you have to have pioneer spirit parents that’s desired outcome is not listening and spoken language but auditory/environmental awareness. Kids will need visual cues as well…some of his patients use Cued speech, some sign language, some SEE.
  • My mom opinion- He showed us pics of the surgery. It seems more dangerous that CIs. It’s outcomes are not like CI users who are obtaining language. I have had one family asking me about this procedure and I had to quickly read up on it.  It seems really high risk for small outcomes, but we are all on our different paths. They are hoping to also 3d print cochleas in the future.
  • Next-Gen Newborn Hearing Screening-Cynthia Morton –This lady is a geneticist. Fortunately for me I was a biology teacher so I could understand all the language. Why is genetic testing important? Some facts and a little genetics lesson she gave: Deaf x Deaf mating results in 90% of time hearing kids. Most Deaf babies are born to hearing parents. 50% of HL found in racial/minorities. 1 in 2 cases genetic. 1 in 4 from maternal complications etc. 1 in 3 over 65y of age have HL. In 2030 20% of population over 76y. More prevalent in males. Complex trait. Conductive is Outer & Middle ear. Sensorineural is inner ear. If genetics caused your child’s hearing loss ( they can test for 123 of the most common genes for Hearing loss)  30% of them are Syndromic(meaning the child has a syndrome) and 70% are Nonsyndromic ( Autosomal Recessive 77%, Autosomal Dominant 22%, X linked, Y linked, Maternal/mictochondrial.) Most common of the recessive, nonsyndromic hearing loss is GJB2.  the gene that makes the protein Connexin 26 which maintains potassium levels in the ear for it to form correctly and for cells to mature in the cochlea. 5% HL is Dominant syndromic (Waardenburg syndrome, Branchio-0t0-renal syndrome, neurofibromatosis type II, Stickler syndrome, Treacher-collins syndrome.) http://www.babyhearing.org/hearingamplification/causes/genetics.asp. 20%HL is recessive syndromic (Usher syndrome, Alport syndrome, Jervell and Lange-nielson syndrome, Pendred syndrome.) Less common syndromic Hearing loss types (CHARGE.) Then the speaker moved into Newborn hearing screening and how she felt genetics testing should be automatically included. 98% babies screened in the us. 45% loss to follow up. One reason to know the reason for the hearing loss is to give you a better sense of your communication options. For example: GJB2 HL kids benefit from a cochlear implant whereas PJVK HL kids carrying that gene have been found to be harmed more if amplified.  In the past genetic testing was not as common and people would have to spend a lot of money and wait time to find out if their child’s hearing loss was genetic. Now they are arguing that every HL child needs genetic testing. New program called SEQaBoo (SEQuencing a Baby for an Optimal Outcome) will translate high-throughput genomic approaches into routine newborn screening for hearing loss (HL). http://grantome.com/grant/NIH/R01-DC015052-01. Another upcoming research project is the Kids First Gabriella Miller https://commonfund.nih.gov/KidsFirst/overview
  • My mom opinion-well it was awkward at times to be in a room of people talking about your family. Our child was tested and she has Connexin 26 hearing loss. As a mom I felt like I wanted to find out reasons why she had hearing loss more than my husband, because I carried her and wondered if I had done something wrong in pregnancy.  I think genetic testing is important to make sure the family is not missing a syndrome with early diagnosis.  The costs of genetic testing is going down so that is good .
  • Audiology in the age of Cloud & Apps-Francois Julita- This guy was the tech/app guru. He talked about digital transformation. I am going to just list all of the web videos he showed below, but his purpose was to get the audiologists to start thinking about the evolving healthcare field. For example, what if in the future and an audiologist could adjust hearing aids/CIs from app using info the technology records and sends via the cloud. One audiologist stood up and said let’s invent an app to find a lost CI or HA…great idea! -MyCareApp, Twine, HealthTap, Orthocare, Teleaudiology by phonak, soundwave, mimio, hearables, dash, lumafit. And lastly, watch UNI by motionsavvy. It’s a new tablet that ASL users sign to and the table translates it into speech so they interact with a hearing child without that child having to know sign. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqAbOZMZp_E

2. Closing—Angela Pelosi- Looking into the past for a glimpse into our future- She talked about the past…got to watch this video of old hearing aid/glasses!! 1950s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJbHyxSI2t4. In the future-bioprinting ears for microatresia & 3d cochlea.

So in summary, the conferences were eye opening, hopeful, depressing, reflective, & a great learning experience overall. Let us all keep learning as we keeping living. -Scarlett Giles


OUR Reality

Our family fosters children.  I received a phone call from our foster care consultant and as I listened, my heart broke.  They needed a home for a little boy who had been severely abused.  My thoughts instantly drifted to one of the first families I called as a GBYS Parent Guide.  A similar story that led to a little girl who had lost both her hearing and vision due to the abuse she endured.  A foster mom, new to our world of hearing loss but living the harsh realities of a topic many of us often choose to ignore: Abuse and Neglect.

Hands & Voices has partnered with Harold Johnson, a researcher formerly at Michigan State University, to better understand the scope of abuse and neglect as it relates to our D/HH kids.

*Abuse and neglect is experienced by 09% of children without disabilities vs. 31% of children with disabilities (Sullivan & Knutson, 2000).

*Available research indicates that 10% of hearing boys and 25% of hearing girls experience sexual abuse vs. 54% of boys who are D/HH and 50% of girls who are D/HH report sexual abuse (Sullivan, Vernon, Scanlan, John, 1987).

I was most affected by one reason why our kids are at higher risk:

*Parental and professional lack of awareness of the increased risk and the subsequent lack of education for children regarding sexuality, personal safety and their right to say “No!” (Shelton, Bridenbaugh, Farrenkopf, & Kroeger, 2008; Sullivan, Vernon & Scanlon, 1987)

We will be taking time over the next few months to share with you OUR reality as parents of D/HH children concerning abuse and neglect and ways we hope will help shine a light on a hard and often neglected topic. 




2nd Annual


GBYSlogoGeorgia Hands & VoicesGAHVlogo

Guide By Your Side Program

Sunday, May 15th, 2016


We cordially invite families of Deaf/HH children to meet at the park on this day to celebrate achievements, strengthen bonds & meet new families!


GBYS Parent Guides will be at the following parks that day:

Biello Park (North Ga)              Carl Miller Park                  EvansTown Center

250 Brooke Blvd,                       (Central/South Ga)            (East Ga)

Woodstock, Ga. 30188               74 Sewell Road                    7016 Evans Town

 (Same location as                               Newnan. Ga. 30263              Center Blvd.

Twin Creeks Softball complex)                                                     Evans, Ga. 30809


*RSVP not necessary, but if you can respond on our Facebook page, text, or email that would be great in case we need to contact you due to weather/etc.

Parent Guide Contacts:

Woodstock Location-Sara Price 470-991-9138 or sprice@doe.k12.ga.us ;

Newnan Location- Kelly Cashion  kcashion@doe.k12.ga.us;

Evans/Augusta Location-Beth Flaherty-706-829-3053 or EFlaherty@doe.k12.ga.us


Language and Literacy: Our Homeschool Journey

I shared briefly about the decision our family made to pull our son out of the public school system this year. First, let me share it was not a decision we made because we were unhappy.  His teachers were nothing short of amazing.  The school he attended welcomed and worked closely with us as we navigated his diagnosis.  So, why did we pull him out?  Primarily because I, his mama, missed him.  He would come home happy but exhausted.  He has spent his short life in therapies and schools and I felt he needed an environment that allowed some time for him to just be a kid.  I also have homeschooled my daughter since she was in Kindergarten so the idea was not new to our family.  That being said, I waited until I felt I was ready and until I got my head wrapped around one particular concern regarding D/HH kids: READING.

Language and literacy in the world of D/HH kids is a hot topic.  I recently attended the EHDI Conference in San Diego and one of the Plenary Speakers was Rachel Coleman from Signing Time.  I believe she say's it best:

"If you said that about any other group of people nobody would believe it.  They wouldn't put up with it for a minute and it would be on the news every night.  But for some reason, when you say 'I'm sorry, your child is deaf.  They are going to graduate with a third grade reading level', nobody has questioned it.  How sad is that?"

In the State of Georgia, I am happy to share we are questioning this statistic.  Conversations around tables are happening and I as a parent am incredibly grateful.  I also know conversations around tables need time to develop and be implemented.

So today, I want to share with you what is working in our home.  After months of research, I contacted Memoria Press and after many questions they agreed to provide our family with the following resources:

They are an amazing company to work with and listened as I explained to them the complexities of teaching our kids how to read.  Kellan is bilaterally implanted but has to have sign support.  I am working beside his therapists and for some of his articulation/speech goals to be worked on and mastered he is also learning the basics of grammar.  So, in our house we use English, American Sign Language (ASL), and Signed Exact English (SEE).  I am not an expert in any of these languages.  For the most part, we learn together and keep ASL and SEE vocabulary dictionaries close.

We are finishing up Book C of First Start Reading and are very happy with his progress.  The lessons within the workbook vary.  We began the program with Kellan already knowing the letters and their sounds.  When new letters are introduced we use this time to review and work on articulation.

One of the most beneficial exercises for Kellan is what they term Ear Training.  This practice consists of me asking:  Which words begin or end with /g/:  boat, goat, bug, cup, dog, girl, gift, bag, book?

I have found it works best to have him identify the word and placement of the phoneme and then repeat the word.  This has helped me communicate to his therapist his weaknesses in articulation.  For example:  He will identify 'goat' as starting with a /g/ but will repeat it 'doat' with a /d/.  When we find the letter sounds he struggles to produce,  I pull the phonetic card and we keep it close as he works through the lesson.  

The lessons progress to blending word families and into reading sentences/stories. The teachers manual provides comprehension questions to be asked at the end of each short story as well as things to point out while reading.  For example:  What is the title of the story?  How many paragraphs are in this story?  How do we read sentences that end with an exclamation point?

Dictation is another component and probably the most challenging for Kellan.  The short vowels /e/ and /i/ are almost impossible for him to distinguish.  The phonetic cards have proved to be invaluable and he is making progress.  They also introduce common words (sight words) in each lesson.  I happened upon an ASL secret sight word download on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) and will print the words as they are introduced and we use them to review.

I wanted to include a video of Kellan's achievement and hope it is an encouragement to you!  Daily we spend approximately 30 minutes working through this curriculum.  Also, for those who are wondering, Kellan received his first implant at age two and his second at age three.  This makes his hearing age equivalent to that of a 3/4 year old.

Don't forget to check out Memoria Press!

Also, they have AMAZING book lists.  If you click on any grade level they have Read Aloud Packages with the book lists included.  I took a screen shot of each grade of my kiddo's to have with me when we venture to the library.  Great literature!

Disclosure:  I was provided all the material listed in exchange for a fair and honest review.  No additional compensation was given.


Peter Rabbit: Week 3

This week lets look at ways we can connect this story to the real world.  In my experience, with my own children, I have found this happens most natural when we allow them to lead.  As I shared last week,  my son was fascinated with the word THEIF.  I have been trying to take opportunities throughout our week to point out when he takes things that are not his.  My favorite being when he sneaks in and drinks my chai tea in the mornings.  I now do not hesitate to say, "Stop! Theif!"  We have had many laughs over him thieving my tea!

Let's look at other ways we can connect Peter Rabbit with real life.

1.  Family  (click on the words to learn the ASL signs)
     Siblings: What are siblings? Do you have a brother/sister?  How many? What are their names?
     Mother:  Who is your mother (name)? What are other names for mother? How did Peter's mom
     take care of him?  Did Peter listen to his mother?  Do you?
     Father:  Who is your father (name)?  What are other names for father?  Where was Peter's father?
     Widow (finger spell):  What is a widow?

Other books/ideas:
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
This book extends the idea of family by introducing Benjamin Bunny, Peter's cousin and also old Mr. Bunny, Peter's uncle.

Have pictures available or invite family over for a dinner around the table.  Teach them how to introduce themselves to your child in ASL.  Example:  Uncle Josh

Obviously, discussions about family will become more complex as your children grow.  These are just suggestions to get you thinking!

2.  Garden

     vegetables:  Where do vegetables grow?  Name some vegetables?  What's your favorite
     digplantgrow:  How do you plant a garden?  What do you do first, second, third (order)? What
     will it need to grow?  Where does the water come from?  What if it doesn't rain?
     cook:  What can we do with the vegetables?  How could we cook them?
     eat: Do you like them raw or cooked?  What could we dip them in?  What could we put them on?
     healthy:  What does it mean to be healthy?  Why are vegetables considered healthy?

Other books/ideas:
Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens
They have a You Tube read aloud (unfortunately not in ASL) you can find by clicking HERE.

In addition, if you have not visited Georgia's Pathway to Language and Literacy site they have a blog Forever Free.  They have uploaded VOCABULARY CARDS:  Food Your Child Should Know.  They are printable and there are numerous ways to use them.  For example:  sort vegetables, healthy/unhealthy, print duplicates and play memory, etc.

Have a great week!


Peter Rabbit: Week 2

I hope you had fun reading with your littles during our first week of reading Peter Rabbit together!  If you have not yet done so, please take time to read the following:  15 Principles for Reading to Deaf Children. Last week we focused on the first 2 suggestions this article articulates.

1.  Deaf readers translate stories using ASL.
2.  Deaf readers keep both languages visible.

If you did not get a chance to watch the ASL Storytelling I highly suggest taking a few minutes.  In our home, one story led to an hour of my son watching and listening to books being read.  Which translated into me having a few minutes of quiet time to catch up on "mom" things.  

This week we will be reading and re-reading the story.  Why do we do this?

"These rereadings coincide with the way children learn. Like their parents, they are most comfortable with the familiar, and when they are relaxed, they're better able to absorb. The repetition improves their vocabulary, sequencing, and memory skills. Research shows that preschoolers often ask as many questions (and sometimes the same questions) after a dozen readings of the same book, because they are learning language in increments not all at once. Each reading often brings an inch or two of meaning to the story." Trelease (1995)

Also,  follow your childs lead.  For example:

My son gets excited when he sees/hears exclamation points in the text.  When Mr. McGregor is running after Peter he exclaims "Stop theif!"  As I read to him, the tone and pitch of my voice change and I exaggerate my signing.  He points to the words in the book and asks...what is that word.  He is pointing to THEIF.  We discuss the word and move on.  The next day we were not able to finish the book because we again stopped on this word and we begin dialoguing about what it means to be a thief.  

What was Peter taking that was not his? 
Is this good or bad?  
Is Peter in trouble? 
Are you a thief?

Another cool outcome from this dialogue occurred while we were in the car.  We are currently listening to The Lord of the Rings as we drive to and from therapies.  We do this primarily for my older daughter and these CD's are available at the library for free.  One day, as we listened Kellan said, "Mommy what did he say?"  I was not sure what he was talking about so we backed up a few pages and sure enough we hear..."Stop thief!"   Then the questions begin:  

What did he take?
Why did he take it?
What is a ring?
You have a ring, are you a thief?
Why did daddy give you a ring?
What does ring mean?

This friends is how language develops!  It does not have to be complicated.  It does not cost money.  If I am being completely honest, I never in my wildest dreams even thought as we listened to books in the car that he was listening or could hear the story.  The car is one of our most difficult places to communicate.  He simply heard ONE WORD that now had meaning to him due to our time spent with Peter Rabbit.  Never underestimate the power of one word, one book, or one afternoon or evening cuddled on the couch communicating with these amazing babies we've been given.  Enjoy every minute with them!