Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm All Ears

So how do we know if a child is hearing sound?  I'd like to think I am pretty good at it since I do it all the time, but every once in a while I will be wondering myself...is this little one hearing this?  I have really found that some babies and toddlers are awesome at letting us know that they are aware of sounds in their environment.  There are some that are not...the sneaky ones that keep us on our toes!  No matter what I always feel more comfortable saying a definitive yes or no when I really know a baby.  So that's where you come in parents...make yourself comfortable with looking for those true responses versus one that may be chance.

As soon as birth infants give predictable responses to sounds that occur above their hearing thresholds.  Children with hearing loss are no different.  Here are some responses you may see:

Cessation of vocalization/behavior
Eye or head turns
Looking at or for the sound source
Pointing to ear
Reciprocity in babbling (like back and forth with an adult)
Imitation of sounds
Pointing to ear

Is your baby hearing?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Read it and Don't Weep

For those of you that know me, you know I don't read much...unless you count reading Us Weekly during a pedicure as reading.  I have recently signed up for a book club with some girls and I am so excited. Just from the emails going back and forth I can tell these are going to be some fun girlies.  I am also excited because this will force me to read things that don't have to do with work.

I guess since I have always loved what I do it didn't matter to me to curl up in bed with a great book about cochlear implants.  Pathetic to most...I know.

SO in honor of my soon to be (fingers crossed) hobby I thought I would post about one of my favorite work related books.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  This is a must read for any parent...not just parents of children with special needs.  I bought mine on Amazon.com for like 10 cents before shipping.  I would've paid MUCH more because it is that good.  It is a must-have for anyone in education or speech as well.

I could go on and on.  I can't even pick which great things to tell I learned because there are so many.  Just take my advice and check it out. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's Your Function?

When dealing with babies and toddlers learning first words or children with limited language and vocabulary you MUST think about functionality.  What are the words/phrases that are the most functional in this child's world?  Is is "penguin" or is it "help"?

Not to say you can't talk about penguins, but to be truthful if your child is not able to communicate basic communicative functions such as requesting more, rejecting,  and indicating termination then the least of my concerns is that he/she learns penguin.

Make sure you (and your therapist, if applicable) are also working on a variety of words from different semantic categories.  By that I mean not only nouns, not only verbs.  Children will usually start combining words when they have 50 words, but they need to have a variety of different types of words in order to do so.

Ok...I'm off my soap box...for now

Monday, January 18, 2010

Help Me Help You

There was a study conducted in Finland that found that parents who "coped best" with their child's disability considered their own needs as well as those of their children.  I am sure that most parents tend to consider themselves last or not at all.

Here are some caregiver survival tips:

1.  Plan ahead
2.  Learn about available resources
3.  Take one day at a time
4.  Develop contingency plans
5.  Accept Help
6.  Make YOUR health a priority
7.  Get enough rest and eat properly
8.  Make time for leisure
9.  Be good to yourself
10.Share your feelings with others

Easier said than done, I know, but think about the airplane emergency instructions...Parents place your oxygen mask on your face before you place one on your child.  Being able to breathe allows you to think logically instead of just reacting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Favorite Quotes Lately...

Sometimes my kids say the cutest things.  Some are so funny and sweet I just can't stand to correct them.  I just love the way that their brains take the language they have to make their point.  Here are some that made me laugh out loud lately.

One of my kids said her sister went to a house "up in the sky" turns out she meant up on a hill to her friend's house.

I have been working on pronouns she/he, her/him with one of my little ones and yesterday we were having a healthy snack of vegetables and tea party with a boy and girl baby to work on this.  She says to the girl baby "Her, do you want cauliflower?"  I just died laughing!  That's what we "in the biz" call "overgeneralization".  Now I just hope she doesn't go to school today and start addressing her friends and teachers as "her".  

One of favorites from the past is when I asked one of my kids about her dog, Sugar.  Little did I know that Sugar had recently passed away (I have this problem of asking kids about pets right after they have passed away...I am not kidding it has happened to me about 4 times) and she said "Sugar go up" with a sad face and pointed to heaven.  Doesn't that just melt your heart?

Just some that are too sweet not to mention.  

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Gift of Gab

Ok Ladies...for any of you who have been accused of being chatty...this one if for you.

In a study that compared the effect of parental chattiness on children's vocabulary this is what was found:

At age 16 months the children of "non-talkative moms" had approximately 25 words while children of "talkative moms" had approximately 50 words.

At 24 months the children of "non-talkative moms" had approximately 200 words while children of "talkative moms" had approximately 500.

So go ahead and chat it up.  It is better for the kids!

Source:  Laliberte, Richard, "Parents Report," Parents Magazine, Vol.72, No. (September 1997), page 50

Friday, January 8, 2010

Alphabet Soup

I often get cracks from my friends on all the letters behind my name in my email signature.  Most times I don't even explain - just respond with some comment about how important and smart I am and how lucky they are to know me!

M.A., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert AVT (alphabet soup, right?)

When I tell people that I work with children and adults who are deaf/hard of hearing most of the time the next question is "oh so you know sign language?". I do, but I have lots of kids who listen and speak. When I say that most people seem baffled.  Some people I meet don't know what a speech-language pathologist is, much less a specialty certification one can hold such as a Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist.  So here's a post about what AV Therapy is. 

(If I have learned anything in my years of working with children with hearing loss it is that I must preface this post with this....I do not believe that one communication mode or educational methodology works for every child with hearing loss.  I think that communication mode should be greatly researched by a family by gaining information from multiple sources before a choice is made.  I believe in the families' right to be given unbiased information and the right to choose the mode of communication they will pursue.  If you take a look at my caseload you will see children who are speaking and listening, children using total communication, children using PECS, and children who use American Sign Language.) 

The Principles of Auditory Verbal Practice are:

-To detect hearing impairment as early as possible though screening programs, ideally in the newborn nursery and throughout childhood
-To pursue prompt and vigorous medical and audiological management including selection, modification, and maintenance of appropriate hearing aids, cochlear implants, and/or other sensory aids
-To guide, counsel, and support parents and caregivers as the primary models for spoken language through listening and to help them understand the impact of deafness and impaired hearing on the whole family
-To help children integrate listening into their development of communication and social skills
-To support children's auditory-verbal development through one-to-one teaching
-To help children to monitor their own voices and the voices of others in order to enhance the intelligibility of their spoken language
-To use developmental patterns of listening, language, speech, and cognition to stimulate natural communication
-To continually address and evaluate children's development in the above areas and, through diagnostic intervention, modify the program when needed. 
-To provide support services to facilitate children's educational and social inclusion in regular education classrooms

To find out more or locate a Cert AVT in your area visit http://www.agbell.org/

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Invaluable Resource

Today I met up with a former colleague who is an audiologist and bilateral cochlear implant user.  Besides the fact that I hold her in high regard for being a fabulous audiologist and friend...I cannot put into words how much I appreciate knowing her and having her tell me about her experiences with her implants.  

No matter how much I know (or think I know) or could ever dream to learn about cochlear implants, I don't know what it is like to have one.  I often think about these babies and toddlers and how we are doing the best we can with knowledge we have now.  But what is it REALLY like for them when I ask them to take their preferred implant off (if they have one) and listen?  What is it REALLY like to go from those hearing aids you were hearing with to these implants?  Did I leave the preferred ear off too long?  Is this an auditory memory issue or a discrimination issue? I could go on and on.

Bottom line...knowing someone with an implant(s) is invaluable if you work with these patients or if you have a child with a CI.  Get online and find people.  People like Ally (my friend) or my parents are always so willing to talk about their experience good and/or bad.  One of the great things about the internet is that it has made the world very small.  So other people "worlds" away can now be contacted via Skype, Facebook, and web forums.  It is truly invaluable...

Cochlear Implant Surgery....$70,000
Weekly Speech Therapy Session...$80-150.
Knowing an adult with a cochlear implant who can give you advice and some piece of mind...priceless

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Welcome to Holland

I had a conversation with the mom of a former patient the other day.  After many years of evaluations, therapies, special schools, surgeries, audiology appointments, and IFSP/IEP meetings she said their life seems more "normal" now that her children are mainstreamed and function with minimal support.  Talking with her really got me thinking about what changes in our field and early identification/intervention will have on how "normal" families will feel when they are faced with raising a child(ren) with special needs.  

I can't remember the first time I read this passage, but it is one of my favorites.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

By Emily Perl Kingsley

One part that always strikes me is  And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.  It brings to light that as a speech-language pathologist I am following my plan.  I chose a major, read the books, passed the classes, graduated, went on to graduate school, read the books again, passed the classes, interviewed for jobs, then graduated.  Having these people in my life was all part of my perfectly orchestrated plan.  So the realization that for these families...having SLPs, OTs, PTs, Audiologists, Special Ed Teachers, Psychologists, etc., no matter how much they love and appreciate these professionals, was NEVER part of their plan or the dreams they had for their child.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Is That a Fact?

Hearing loss is the number one birth defect in America.  I have probably quoted this hundreds of times and always hated saying "birth defect".  I don't know why... it just sounds so harsh.  I guess it may be that I love my kiddos*** just as they are and really can't imagine them any other way. 

*** I have a habit of calling my patients "my kids" and the parents of children I work with "my parents" so it happens on occasion that I am telling a story about "one of my kids" or "one of my parents" and people think I am talking about my actual family. I should come up with some clever way to differentiate between the two, but until then you will either have to ask or use context clues.  As for now I don't have any children of my own so that one is easy.  I do refer to my actual mom and dad frequently when talking about hearing loss because they are deaf and have cochlear implants.  So that may get confusing, but hopefully you will be able to tell the difference. 

Every time I speak about facts on hearing loss I can tell people are shocked.  Sometimes I am as well.  Here's some more facts...just in case you were wondering.

- 1 in 1,000 newborns (that's 33 every day) is diagnosed with some type of hearing loss.
- When children are not identified and do not receive early intervention services, special education for a child with hearing loss cost an additional $420,000, and has an estimated lifetime cost of $1million per individual. 
- 90% of children with hearing loss are born to parents with normal hearing
- Research indicates that children with unilateral hearing loss (single sided) are 10 times as likely to be held back a grade compared to their peers with normal hearing.
- Research also indicates that children with mild hearing loss may miss 25-50% of speech in the classroom environment and may be labeled as having attention or behavior problems. 
- Approximately 25,000 people in the United States and 70,000 people world wide have cochlear implants.
- Nearly half of all cochlear implant recipients are children.

And those are (some of) the facts!

Monday, January 4, 2010

What's in a Name?

I figure that people may ask why I named my blog what I did...so why not take this opportunity on my first post to explain it?

I have spent so much time scrutinizing every idea for a blog name that I had.  So many that I thought of were unavailable for me to use.  This forced me to really think about why I wanted a blog and what the purpose would be.  I feel very blessed to do what I do for a living and I am so grateful for all of the knowledge I have gained in my experience and I love sharing what I know (ask my husband or my girlfriends and I'm sure they will tell you how much I talk about it).  So...I got to thinking...people hire personal chefs, personal trainers, personal housekeepers, personal decorators because they are experts. Why not have a personal speech-language pathologist as well?  Obviously I will not be "hired" by everyone that reads the blog, but the point is to share what I know, what I do, lessons I have learned/am still learning with others.

So there you have it (in case you were wondering).