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!



GBYS Read Along

Welcome to our first GBYS Read Along!

Peter Rabbit
by Beatrix Potter

I chose Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter because of its rich language and its ability to be used with kids of all ages.  This week we will read and watch/listen to the story being read in ASL.  I have included a list of words that are linked to an ASL dictionary for us to learn together and words that can be investigated if your children are older.  

Please take the time to read the following: 15 Principles for Reading to Deaf Children.  These are strategies that will help you, the parent, as you journey with your child into language and literacy.

Week One:  Read the story and watch/listen to story in ASL

ASL Storytelling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCOMxxdhLnk

Learn ASL Signs:

finger spell: Peter

Are your kids too young?

Read to them regardless.  Remember the importance of getting language in and then keep things simple. Train yourself to be intentional in the early days and start to slowly build a library for your children at home!

Are your kids older?

Discuss the following words:  mischief, naughty, thief, frightened, sob, implored, exert, tremble

Look up their meanings and discuss synonyms that could be used in their place.

Download Book Here:  http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14838
**the EPUB (with images) was downloaded to iBooks
**Kindle (with images) was downloaded to Kindle 

Enjoy this time with your kids and remember these everyday small investments add up!


Georgia H & V Guide By Your Side Program Spring Events 2016

Spring will be here soon! Let’s get out and meet each other! Below are some spring events I put together. Please RSVP so I will know to contact you in case we have to cancel or give out last minute information.
Scarlett Giles sgiles@doe.k12.ga.us or text 470-991-9187 (At events will have a GA H &V-GBYS sign to locate me.)

Event 1:
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 - 3:30pm-5pm
North Point Mall Alpharetta
1000 North Point Circle, Alpharetta, Georgia 30022
Food Court/Carousel Area
I will bring my kids for a fun play date. Meet in the food court. Grab an afternoon snack & let the kids ride the Carousel. Carousel-Children under 2 free. Ages 2-12- Purchase tokens ($2 each - cash only) from token machine located beside the Carousel. American Girl & Disney Store are also good window shopping experiences.
RSVP by Tuesday, March 1st

Event 2:
Tuesday, March 29th, 2016- 10am
Rev Coffee
1680 Spring Road SE, Smyrna, Ga. 30080
My kids are in school that morning. Children are welcome or you can come by yourself.
RSVP by Monday, March 28th.

Event 3:
Wednesday, April 13th,  2016-3:30pm-5:30pm
JJ Biello Park (next to CRPA Twin Creeks Softball Complex)
250 Brooke Blvd., Woodstock, Ga. 30188
I will bring my kids for a park playdate.
RVSP by Tuesday, April 12th

Event 4:
Monday, April 25th, 2016- 9am
Martin’s Restaurant
2005 Cobb Parkway NW, Kennesaw, Ga. 30152
Let’s meet for breakfast. My kids are in school that morning. Children are welcome or you can come by yourself.
RSVP by Friday, April 22nd

Looking ahead: Last year was our 1st annual Meet in May Park Day. Details will come soon about locations and date/time in May.

Looking forward to seeing your family. –Scarlett Giles (Parent Guide)