Sunday, March 24, 2013

Something to Know

Did you know?  Babies begin to develop speech and language from the time they are born
Did you know? ..... Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop communication, language, and social skills
Did you know? .....The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential

Something you should know.....
Babies should have a hearing screening before they are a month old. If your child has a hearing loss, it is important to consider the use of hearing devices and/or other communication options by age 6 months. That's because children start learning speech and language long before they talk.

Did you know? .....  if your child is found to have a hearing loss
Hearing aids for children cost between $1,000 and $4,000 per ear and different kinds of aids can cost more or less than others

Something you should know....
Warranties are good but don't cover everything.  But I bet you knew that!

'Jewelry for a Voice' is a great fundraiser and fun 'get-together' for a cause.  The monies raised that evening go to a fund to help families that cannot afford to purchase and/or repair hearing aids not covered under warranties or insurances.  Children with a hearing loss must have communication available to them - why not help if possible.  Enjoy an evening out and learn a little bit more about a special group of children.  You don't have to be a sponsor - you can purchase a ticket and join us for some fun AND a little information.  This is my personal invitation to this number and to purchase your ticket 915-521-7229 ext.2989.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hearing-soooooo Important!

Isn't she a cutie! One of many clients I serve for listening, language, and speech.  She is very dedicated to her hearing and communicating with everyone; and so is her family!

Her family began the road to finding information and gaining access to listening and communication from the moment their daughter was born. 

There are many children in the area I live that have family looking for information.  The more we know, the more information we can share, and the more sharing, the more people will know.  Kinda' like 'it takes a village' -
only in this case - 'it takes social media'. 

This young lady was diagnosed at birth with a hearing impairment.  There are other children, because of newborn hearing screenings, also diagnosed with hearing impairments; but yea! for the screenings, otherwise how long would little ones go without the parents knowing their baby is not hearing.
Two to three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born deaf or hard-of-hearing, and more lose their hearing later during childhood, according to US Dept./National Institute for Health.

Why is this important?  Listening/hearing is the first crucial step to developing language and communicating, so early detection and identification of any type of hearing loss with newborns is crucial!  Next important step,  intervention, which means fitting that newborn with aids that will benefit them and get them on the road to hearing.  Habilitation with therapies for parents and baby goes along with that - and.....  that is the short version!  
There is a group; when parents are looking for answers, that they can get in touch with, and this group can point them in the right direction.  A group with parents that have experienced many of the same questions and will share information.  A group where parents can have someone to call or text or talk one-on-one.  
En Voz Alta is that group in the greater El Paso Texas area.

What else does En Voz Alta do?  So glad you asked - the group has started the task of identifying those who cannot afford hearing aids (for various reasons) for their child, or who need some help getting parts or repairs for hearing aids (for various reasons).  We all know how much technology costs - hearing aids are no different.  With that being said - the piece of paper in that little cutie's hand - is information on the neatest fundraiser that En Voz Alta holds in order to gain funds for the hearing aid bank.  
'Jewelry for a Voice' is an evening of fun in silent auction for beautiful jewelry pieces.  April 20th, 2013 from 6-9PM is the date.  Come have a relaxing evening with a little bit of food, a little bit of music, and some of the most beautiful jewelry pieces in silent auction from artisans and jewelry companies in the area.  I'm looking forward to it - How about you? 
Go to the Contact link for En Voz Alta at the link provided above and get more information for tickets -

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year Resolution - My Son

Yes, this is about my son and No, this is not a 'language lesson' per say.....Well....... here we are in a new year and here we are ready to set some resolutions to be broken.  Isn't that the way it usually goes? Everyone makes a statement to resolutely do things better, to resolutely make themselves better, or to resolutely change something!  Yet, how many of us really stick to it and have something happen?!

I don't usually share what I will and won't do for the new year, I just attempt to make some kind of change and like some millions out there, I don't usually stick to it. People have told me that if you don't share with a friend or family member what you are going to do, than more than likely ... it won't happen.  I don't want to disappoint myself, much less someone else who thinks I can make a change for the better. 

Enter my son.....and now, this year, I think I can make and keep a resolution!  Years ago, but not nearly as far back as that, my son was diagnosed with a mental health disorder.  He was not yet 18, so my husband and I could still make decisions as to how to go about helping him and ourselves.....or so we thought.  After the initial diagnosis, we both thought, we will just get him the help and medication he needs and he'll be fine.  He fought us every step of the way trying to tell us what he thought, but at that time 'mom and dad knew best' and he was 'going to listen to us'.  Four months later, my son could not keep a thought in his head or a smile on his face.  He had this blank look and slept all the time.  We were on medication number 5 when he finally asked me and his father to sit down and listen to what he had to say.  We did, I was in tears and his father was in shock.  Who says a child cannot teach an adult.....we learned quite a bit that day, some things we did not want to learn.  That day and into the next weeks we took our son off of all medications, found new doctors and attempted to make sense of what was going on in his life and in his mind.  Now I am not abdicating for 'no medications' ....that in and of itself is a decision a family should make together.  Once again, I do abdicate for discussions; talking and listening. It all plays such a huge part in family, why should it be any different when there is a difficult event taking place in your life that needs to be addressed by everyone.  If you want to move forward with major decisions in your life and of those within your life.....discussions have to take place. 

As I was saying; that day and to this day - we are still 'talking' and 'discussing' and learning about my son's mind and life.  He is my hero, each day he has to make a conscious decision that this is a new day; one that he'll make productive.  And each day he has to be resolute in living and making a change outside the system.   He does this, as he would say and is learning; 'being in the system doesn't make a change for me, it just makes me stuck and unhappy.'  Oh how I hate to see him unhappy, it breaks my heart because that is not the little boy I remember.  He is 24 years old now and he has lived a lifetime of angels and demons in his mind.  He has lived a lifetime of being up and down and he has lived a lifetime of things I can only imagine.  I will never understand completely what goes on within him but I do know he has made strides in his life from where he was those years ago and I am soooooo proud of him.  He is an artist and the love in my life!

Which leads to my resolution for the New Year.  It goes hand-in-hand with my son.  I was listening to a news story about people's resolutions to be do you get to happy?  Well, the truth is....happiness really does come from sounds so cliche but that ol' adage is true.  We can do little things for ourselves that make us happy.  Take a deep breath and smelling apple pie or the scent of flowers makes us smile and feel good.  Looking at family pictures and thinking 'what a great trip that was!' can make us smile and feel good.  Telling a joke or finding a funny story can make us feel good!  I will go one even further ....sharing those moments with someone will make you feel good....that is my resolution.
I will find something in each day to make me smile or feel good even if for a few minutes....and I will share it with my son.  On those days I feel down or sad I will remember what I said and find something to make me smile and hopefully....after I share, my son will be smiling too.  Who knows, maybe he will write a new something for it, or even have a discussion regarding it....and maybe the discussion will be with me......and I....will be listening......

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Language and the Holidays

Many of the most memorable times in my family were the traditional holidays we shared and of course  still do!  I love each and everyone of them.  Of course, all the holidays I remember were centered around the children and having fun.  Children were constantly talking; family was constantly talking - language and conversation was the grand scheme of every holiday!
In my family, we celebrated the festival of lights - Chanukah!  As soon as the children were able, they recited the blessing for the candles and grandmothers handed out Chanukah gelt!  My Zayde centered his entire evening around the children, he loved having us by his side and telling us stories.  My grandmother loved handing out gifts and food.
In my husband's family, their Christmas Eve was nothing but family - at church, at home, and around the table.  After dinner, everyone was around their tree with the children in the middle of the floor.  His father told each of the children a riddle - and the children looked around or discussed what they thought their riddle meant and what present was coming their way.
As you can see, conversation, time together, and talking was a part of our lives and we continued those traditions into our life with our son - on both religious tracks, as long as we were together and talking to him all the time.  He always had the best of mommy and daddy! He always had the best of both families and it continues to this day.  'The best of' includes little ones being the center of attention and everyone talking!
One of my favorite websites has some information for Language fun and the holidays - if you have the love of family like I do - check it out! I bet you already do some of these things, if you don't it's a great way to learn and incorporate language.

Holidays and Language are just one more reason to share with your child and bring about the art of listening and communicating.  Another way to combine two favorites of mine - books and the holidays, whether I am reading them or giving them as gifts.  You can do so much through a book.  The stories you can tell and the conversations you can have.  The playing that will come about and the pretending, imagining and games you will love to have over and over again with your child.  My son's favorite book was 'BJ Funnybunny and the Great Tricycle Race' - over and over again - even during the holiday season.  The great thing about reading over and over again, your child learns the rhythm and movement of speech.  They memorize their favorite books and will 'call you out' on messing up the reading or skipping pages.  Go ahead - I dare you - change the words of your child's favorite book and see what happens.  You will know if they have been listening.  And if you don't have a favorite with your child - create one!  This website leads you to a world of great books and they can be as interactive as you want them to be - but they are great conversation making books.  Usborne books

Have yourself a merry little holiday and enjoy your family through conversation

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

'Comforts' about communication

OMG! It has been August since I last visited one of my favorite things to do - writing my thoughts down here .... my how I've missed it.  My mind wanders into thoughts all the time but being able to get it down on paper is important to me; so I can go back later and laugh or cry or sigh at my thoughts.

It's time for a change - that was first.  I needed to, so I did - Change the look of the blog. Second, I'm sitting here realizing I am doing what I promised myself I would do almost a month ago-get back to doing some things I enjoy.  So....I am sitting here indulging in some 'comfort food' and getting some 'comfort' :)

Macaroni and cheese - my favorite 'comfort food' - PBJ is right up there with it.  That's what I have now - both!!  'Comfort food' must also have to do with remembrances and memories.  I have eaten these foods for as long as I can remember.  When I was little and family was short on funds, mac and cheese with PBJ sandwiches was dinner!  But.... it was the dinner with fun! from the time I could fill the pot with water and setting the table - to the time I could make the dinner for myself in college - it was a dinner of fun.   From what was least, we were the best as a family.  Don't get me wrong - as far as I'm concerned my family is the best!  Dinners like these is what made our communication skills so good; what made our conversations outstanding and what made our story-telling so descriptive.  

'Comfort food' brings back those nights our family shared and loved and talked.  When I was young until the time I grew older my family has always been about sharing and talking.  When I started dating the man I married, I walked into another family full of conversations, even with seven children in the family, there was always time to talk - around 'comfort food' around the table.  Then came my son - who learned quickly the love of language and words.  His father tells him to this day 'Words have meaning' - we use them in love. Yes, there are some words in anger; but even more words in love - and conversations and discussions surround us everyday, everywhere.  

Meanwhile the last is not least. My favorite 'comfort food' became a sorrow for a little while.  One of the happy moments with family was in the hospital with my sister.  She was the oldest and took care of us as needed.  Now we were taking care of her. One of my sister's last nights of her cancer battle was after she woke up to find her daughter waiting for her; we had been looking for my niece for over a month.  My sister was famished and happy and wanted PBJ sandwiches for dinner.  We went to the store and bought all the fixins' - sat in the hospital room as a family - discussed, conversed and loved.  It was my sister's last meal with us, but it was a happy one!

Writing is a 'comfort', foods are a 'comfort' and communicating, discussing and talking are 'comforts' of a family.  Language can be so many things, but most of all, it is the door and bridge to each other.  Happy Thanksgiving around the table - and many conversations to come!

A little something to smile and converse about:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Thoughts ... of one thing or another

I have been thinking of something the past couple of days.....actually I have been thinking of quite a few things the past of couple of days =) ....but there are two that have been mixing together and kind of standing out in my mind.  Let's share and see if you have any feelings about it as well.

I was having lunch with a friend the other day before I gear up to be back at school and private therapy time.  We were talking about families and gossiping about other friends.  She was catching me up on her grown boys.  They are a fantastic family and of course, she beams when she tells me about them.  When I tell you what they do, you will think; those aren't boys, those are grown men, but to us mothers....they will always be children in our hearts!
As I was saying, she did get a look of concern when she began telling me about her youngest.  He is a military man and out on tour of duty.  I asked her what was wrong and she said; 'Oh Cathy, he had to go get his hearing checked and he is profoundly deaf in one ear and moderate to severely deaf in the other.'  My heart went out to her because we both understand completely what a hearing loss means to any individual, adult or child.  Fortunately, her son and the family have already begun to look into hearing aids and what services are available to him and what can be done after he leaves the military branch.  How is that for a proactive family!  But what bothered me more than anything was when she told me that most people have reacted with 'Oh, that's too bad.....well, at least it's not a leg or another type of disability.'

A disability is a disability!  I know people look for the 'right things' to say to console someone hurting.  If you really can't think of anything just give them a hug and let them know you care.
The bother in this instance for me....hearing loss is still misunderstood or not understood at all.  Hearing loss, like any other disability, limits what is available for what can and cannot be done for adults looking for a job or how they live their lives.  Now I did not say 'closes the door' on can and cannot be done, but it limits in the fact that accommodations and/or modifications will come into play for what can and cannot be done.  And you know that old saying, 'It's nothing personal' - well I agree with Meg Ryan in 'shop around the corner' -"What does that mean anyway, if anything it should be personal!  It's personal to me!"
And I truly dislike the saying - 'I know what you mean' - no you don't unless you've been in that particular position.  My point? Let's remember what it means when the ones we love find out about a disability and remember that any disability is a loss...and there is a process to go through for everyone.

My other thought on my mind?  I guess this hit me about the same time I was trying to understand why someone could not understand what a hearing loss was all about.
This past week were full of meetings for back-to-school.  You know the ones, we all learn something but will never admit it and just want to get back to getting ready for the students.  This year our district will be addressing the issue of bullying; hitting it hard with administrators and teachers and sharing strategies with the students.
While we were going through these meetings, a co-worker leaned toward me and said, 'the hearing impaired children don't really understand bullying or teasing, do they?'

Bullying is bullying!  And once again, I tried to understand where this person was coming from.  Now what I do understand and others may be looking for is clarification of the term 'bully'.  You know when someone is being bullied, but do children know the difference in bullying and teasing and sarcasm and maybe just being bothered because someone wants to know about them.  Hearing children do have a
distinct advantage in learning the subtleties of 'fun teasing and sarcasm' vs. 'being mean'
Social innuendos are things we do need to teach and discuss with our children who have a hearing impairment.  While I have been thinking about this I received my latest 'Volta Voices' - a publication put out by A G Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing - which has an article regarding Bullying and Hearing Loss.
Check it out - this article addressed my thought process and helped with a general overview.  There is so much more to understand.  Bullying extends across many areas - if not all.
So ... what do you think? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Reading with Listening and Language

Last time we talked about developing reading with those listening, language, and talking babies turning into children. 
Now that your children will begin to go to school, it will be just as important that you, parents, continue to grow your child's listening, language, and reading skills.  While children are busy making friends and learning the structure of a classroom, they are falling for their kindergarten teacher.  They watch everything she does and love when she reads to them, because they have learned the love of reading from you.  In language, children will use their auditory memory skills and picture clues to "read" books. They will listen to the stories, love the pictures, memorize the parts they fell in love with and begin to retell you the story when they get home.  Ask them, "What story did you hear at school today?" and watch what comes out of their mouths.  They learn to listen in the classroom, not just to the teacher but to each other, and they learn to speak to each other as proper communication partners.  So, on top of that listening and language continuing to develop - so does reading.  Reading is a part of the environment, your child begins to pick out those words. Store signs and words they've been exposed to over and over again in the classroom.  Parents, you can help by using new vocabulary words, help to "sound out" words if they ask for help, and form words with magnet letters or alphabet programs on the computer.

As your child moves into first grade they're listening will get better and better, following several step directions within the classroom and being able to listen to longer pieces of information . . . and so it goes throughout their growing school years.  Language will continue to do much the same, moving from simple to complex structures and carrying on a conversation with their peers and adults.  Your child will learn the language arts structures in school and understand that reading carries meanings and so much more. They can also communicate and tell stories through creating their own writings.  Once again parents, you can help by encouraging some independent reading, develop words they can read by sight (just by looking at them) and talking to them about what they read.  "What did you read?"  "What did you like the best?" and "How do you think the story will end?" or "What will happen next?"

Now comes the hard part! Whew! Vocabulary building ties in very closely with communication skills.  It is - oh, so important, for your child not to get behind on academic vocabulary.  So much more is expected of them and you parents, cannot keep saying things the same way every time they have difficulty learning those new words.  It is not okay to say things in an easier manner so your child will get it.  What ends up happening is they cling to those simpler items and leave the more difficult vocabulary by the way side.  Have a discussion about new words, think of examples in their lives you can use and say it in a different way - not the "tired way" of "same old, same old".  

For instance:  Pre-teach academic vocabulary.  Ask the teacher for a list of the vocabulary coming up in the lessons.  Children acquiring language need to be able to be familiar with words through conversation at least two weeks before they are asked to understand them in academic context, whether it be the reading series or text books from Science or Social Studies.  Get the list and put them on the refrigerator, target acquiring three to five new words at a time.  Make all the family use the words.  Use hands-on experiences so the words can become a part of your child - rather than short term for the test, or pictures in their head.  Try to choose words they will be interested in, not words you think they should know - use whatever the lesson is that your child talks about - go from there.  Get rid of what your child is familiar with and encourage them to understand and use the vocabulary through your discussions and use of synonyms.  

Then go read a book and share!