My name is Scarlett Giles. I am a Parent Guide with Georgia Hands & Voices. Our Guide By Your Side Program has been up and running for a year now. Below is a new post I wrote to our blog. We have a Facebook group, website (www.gahandsandvoices.org/Guide_By_Your_Side.html), and pinterest account as well. Check out our program in the new year. Let us know if you or someone you know needs our guidance and resources for their Deaf/HOH child.
It's a post all about Dogs...and reading too!
We welcomed into the family not one, but two puppies this past September. Brindle-coated brothers, Hairy and Blue. Trouble and love all wrapped into one. We got two from the rescue litter so that when our older dog, Jasper, passes they will still have a playmate. The puppies annoy Jasper sometimes, but she has gained weight and perked up since they arrived. Puppies are harder than babies ...yeah I said it. The first week, I didn't want them to go, but I didn't want them to stay. I powered through with 6 kids (3 human, 3 dogs), because of one gift I knew I would get at the end of the struggle: Unconditional Love. Dogs are the only ones that give this type of love. Humans are too flawed and complicated to extend this pure love. Introducing our handsome boys:
Meet Hairy -Hairy was named after University of Georgia's Mascot- Hairy Dawg. His middle name is J.J. after our first born dog-Jasper. We first called him "trouble", but he has turned out to be the most loving and loyal guard dog. He follows me everywhere.
Meet Blue- Blue was named after our oldest child Colin's nickname "Boy Blue." Blue's middle name is JaJa after Jasper. Blue looks "blue" with his shy and sulky eyes, but tends to be the instigator underneath. He's like the teacher's pet. Everyone thinks he is so perfect, but he has an evil side. He loves to get Hairy in trouble.
This post is not just me proudly showing my new puppies. I wanted to tie the dogs with an important topic, reading. In the new year, make sure you make time to read to your kids, especially your HOH/Deaf children. Literacy is so important. Language is so important. I wanted to share some info from Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy Program, which was established in 2010. This program is made up of professionals and parents, in the state of Georgia, whose mission is to increase literacy in Georgia's D/HOH children. Their goal is to achieve grade-level reading proficiency by the end of third grade for all students with hearing loss. Check out their website for great resources and tools to help your child. http://www.georgialiteracy.org/
Dogs and reading, how do they go together? My mother-in-law bought a children's book on hearing loss when we first found out about my youngest Amelia. The book is, Elana's ears or How I became the best big sister in the world by Gloria Roth Lowell. It's about a dog (Lacey) that reminds me of our first dog-child Jasper. I imagine Lacey having a dog birthday party or wearing baby gap clothes as did our Jasper. The book starts off introducing the spoiled dog who even has a raincoat in her wardrobe. Lacey's biggest hobby was barking. She started to notice her human mom's belly was getting large. The dog recalls one night in which her owners, for the first time ever, rushed out and didn't even say goodbye. When they came home Lacey in her words says, "Yes, they had gone and had a baby on me!" The next few pages talks about how Lacey's privileged life changes, because of that baby. She was jealous, but then she tries to form a friendship with baby Elana. She shows off her favorite hobby, barking, but Elana never responds. Lacey tries to get her owners to see over the next weeks that Elana is not responding to sound. Then pages 14 and 15 of the book come. The pages that choke me up everytime....even six years later. It transports me back to the room where three month old Amelia laid with electrodes hooked up all over her head and ears for the ABR(fancy for a test that determines if your brain is hearing sound.) The words that the audiologist spoke that day were words I knew were coming. "Amelia does have hearing loss."
And the book reads-Part of page 14,"Finally(moms and dads can be kind of slow sometimes) I heard them talking about Elana's ears, and the very next day they took her to the doctor. That was the second time in my life they didn't say goodbye." Page 15, "When they came home, both of my parents were upset. You know how you can always tell whey your parents are upset. I heard them call Grandma Renee and Grandpa Al to tell them the news I already knew in my heart. Elana's ears weren't working. Elana couldn't hear."
The dog starts thinking of how she would help Elana. "I would be Elana's ears..I would be Lacey, the first ever hearing-ear dog." Elana goes on to get hearing aids and Lacey explains her excitement when Elana hears barking for the first time. It is a wonderful book and I hope you will go read it. I wanted to tell parents that there are children's books written on the topic of hearing loss. It could be used to help your family member understand. It could be used for you to journey through your emotional process, or introduce your child and/or siblings to stories of others like them. In the new year, read, read, read.
While on the subject of books and dogs, I wanted to tell you about one more book, Kayla the Amazing. The Adventures of a Super Dog by Kara Gagnon. The author, my friend Kara, wrote this children's book. It is about her beloved dog Kayla who recently passed, but was a superdog in real life. The book is not about hearing loss, but it's another good book to read to your kids. Kara's family has been by our side through our hearing loss journey, so I wanted to share her book info. Here is the link to check it out: http://bookstore.authorhouse.
Remember everybody loves puppies, but get your child to love reading this year too. -Scarlett Giles