Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recognizing Behavior vs. Technology

My area of interest in my profession is children with hearing impairment and I love to work with these kiddos and their parents.  Parents have made changes and decisions since their baby was diagnosed with a hearing loss and one of those decisions they have made is to learn language by listening and verbalizing.  That, in turn, opens up for me so many areas of my job that I love and so many areas of my job that I have fun with - but there are also times I don't enjoy myself so much and neither does the client, obviously!  I always go back and review my notes and decide if the session was a good one and what I could have done differently if needed.  I promise myself to find two good items in a session and reteach an area that didn't go so well.

In the meantime, while I attended this outstanding research symposium, a point came across that hit me hard. It hit me hard because I am guilty of the point.  A question I have not asked myself, or taught to  the parent, in a long time! The question? When you see the client not performing the way you expect or not getting the language that should be coming - what's the problem?  When the client does not perform consistently over time and the parent is beginning to feel discouraged because the client is not achieving points from the lesson or acting as though they hear any language - what's the problem?
And the next question I should be asking. . . ?  When was the last time the technology was checked?  My first thought should go to technology - is it working correctly, hearing aids or cochlear implants?
Yes we do a Ling check (six phonemes within a speech spectrum/frequency to monitor that they are hearing speech) and then I do check (observe) through the lesson.  But when things begin to change - even the slightest change you wouldn't expect to see - the first question should always be - How's the technology?  If you don't know - send them to the audiologist for the check.

Professionals should be more diligent in being the behaviorist and noting whether the reaction the child is having is because of equipment, not because the child is acting out or having a bad day.  Start asking questions of the parent and see if you can pin point the problem - and the questions and checking of equipment should always be the first move.  Parents are great at watching their child's behavior and will be honest about how the child is doing.  If the parent is telling you their child is not leaving  hearing aids on or pulling off the cochlear implant, then investigate.  Yes, a child does need to get use to their equipment but that is short-lived if the parent is consistent and expectations don't change.
Check the equipment, don't keep telling the parent 'It's okay, just keep putting the technology back on.'
If the parent is telling you that lately the child doesn't answer or verbalize; or they are telling you the child's voice has changed; or they voice their concern in their child's behavior - then check the equipment and teach the parent the basics of checking equipment.  We, as professionals, owe it to the parent to pay attention to certain 'new' aspects of their child.  We, as professionals, owe it to the parent to teach them how to advocate for their child and get the professional to realize something is up.  We should not, professional or parent, be quick to assume something else is wrong.  It is not always a behavior problem and it is not always something else terrible for the parent to worry about.
Lesson learned: Check the equipment!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How Do Things Happen?

I am always amazed at how things happen?!  Even if I know how they happen it never ceases to amaze - listening or watching the magic of things.  Sometimes while I watch or listen, I can feel the tears come because I am so overcome by the thrill of what just occurred.  Yet the question always comes - How Does That Happen?
I attended a research symposium these last four days and loved the papers that were presented.  Even listening to statistics and reasons given; I enjoyed it!  What I enjoyed even more is knowing what I do counts and I learn more 'things that happen' and share with parents and children every chance I get.  Parents ask a question I have always thought interesting and wondered 'why do I expect this question to never come?' - so once again - I have decided to be amazed at how things work . . . .

When I work with parents of and their children that have a hearing loss, it is always assumed by the parent that once the hearing aids or cochlear implants are activated the child will hear, talk, and perhaps even read.  Well, not all at once. . . but it sure is expected to happen quickly.  At times I am a little upset that parents expect it so quickly when I feel they should know we have so much work ahead.  Yet, I do understand how parents feel - 'look at what my child has to make it all better'. Yes - and with their help - they will be amazed.  It just takes the reminder and the strategies that I share with them for something amazing to happen.  They, the parent, will help their child listen, hear, and talk!  It never ceases to amaze me.

Let's remember it all happens in the same hierarchy as most good things do - and it is that remembrance that keeps it together for parent and child.  It is that remembering that amazes the parents when, once they get started in the listening and spoken language process and learning strategies, their child learns.  I teach the parent that it all starts with the brain (and I learned that from a great audiologist-Carol Flexer), and we are going to train the brain to have a great auditory track and auditory brain development.  We are going to do this by beginning with the listening, as all babies do.  They listen to everything in their environment and we are going to train their child's brain, no matter what their age, about listening.  I, am always amazed on how that thing happens! = )  From listening, we move to turn-taking - which brings about talking and communication.  I am even more amazed with tingles in my arms while I watch a parent cry because they never thought they would watch their child react to sound or have a conversation!  And that. . . is the first of many goals that will be accomplished.  Isn't it amazing how things happen!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Teaching Heart ( www.teachingheart.net ) is hosting their annual back to school party on July 24th till July 30th.  Each Day a new prize!  Gift cards, Books, Teaching Heart Products, and more!!!  Plus a free printable will be posted during the week.  You need to visit the blog at; http://teachingheartmom.blogspot.com/ 
daily to check out the prizes each day and enter for the ones you want to win!!!"
Everyone is on their way back to thinking about going back to school - yes, it is just around the corner.  Of course I just had to post this and I will have another post in a few days!
I have thoughts and comments regarding a research symposium here in Washington D.C., and I am learning so much about language and families and of course, about having fun with both.  More later!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love and Learning at Home

So much of what we know of love - we learn at home. ~ Anonymous
Where at home do your children learn the best?  Do you set up an area for homework?  Do you set up a corner for the computer?  Is the only place they can go wild outside?  We are all guilty of thinking in 'where does this look best in a room'.  I am extremely guilty of making use of all corners of the room.
I was reading a couple of other blogs; Kindergarten's 3 R's and Teacher Tom - both have posted great blogs about structure and our children.  I got to thinking about language and structure, which sent me into thinking language learning and love in the home, or anywhere for that matter.
When I first step into a home to do therapy I always ask 'Where would you like to work?' Usually the parent points to the table.  Being very cordial, I gladly go there and set up activities, but as the session goes on we move from the table to other areas of the house.  I want the parent to see, and the child, that learning language can happen anywhere in the home.  As I get to know the family and child, I teach that learning language can happen anywhere period!  Think about it, once again, isn't some of the best activities you've done with family, and really loved it, happening within the activity itself.  When you think back on some of the things you've done with your child - didn't they happen within the activity and not just the place.  It may have been making them smile while cooking in the kitchen,  or outside discussing those 'little buggies' while cleaning up the yard.  When the child needs more input for language, it happens so much more and perhaps even easier, when the activity is not structured at a table. When you are working on language with a child, vocabulary building and structuring of sentences can come more fluently when there is teaching/learning - let's go do it - and discussing afterwards. Just because a child has a deficit in language no matter what the reason, doesn't mean love and learning can't happen at home.  Which brings about another thought. . .
Tell me and I will know, Show me and I will understand; Involve me and I will comprehend. ~Chinese proverb

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being and Becoming

'Life is not having and getting, but being and becoming' ~Matthew Arnold
If the writing becomes here and there and wandering around please forgive me, still learning to curb the ideas, but I have seen and done so many good things today and/or this week!  Lots of ideas running through my head - hither and yon.  It all may come out in the writing!  As the posts grow you may see a recurring theme - that one area may never change.  I love quotes, especially when it has been a fun day and I see the reason for the quote.  The second recurring theme,  may be the idea of having fun.  Things just seem to go a whole lot better if fun can remain in the day.

I saw so many children being themselves today and so many parents becoming a part of their child's development today - without any expectation of having or getting.  Child development is such a wonder in itself and those kiddos needing that extra little 'umph' to get them where they are suppose to be is even better when you see parents jump right in there to make it happen.  Language and speech development in the homes can be sooooo much fun - no matter what the age.  I worked with a pair of 10 and 11 year olds with their moms today - in the kitchen!  Reading directions and deciphering language can be such a challenge to those children delayed in this area.  Speech can be a challenge with those higher level words within directions for anything!  But parents, if you do it right, it can be so much fun to make something together and have fun through the language.  Parents, whatever you do, use the OWL acronym running through your head. Observe, Wait, and Listen before you jump in. . . and of course, sabotage!  Whatever your child says, have fun with it and then correct it.  One of the children told his mom 'You put cups of glass.'  Mom went and got cups and put glasses in them. . . . eyeglasses, water glasses, and a broken glass - they had a good laugh and then mom fixed the language.
It may take longer to get what you need - but who says you can't work up an appetite.  It was a moment of being and becoming - not having and getting.

I have also spent time perusing the blogs and really having fun at reading and being amazed at all the talented and outspoken people out there.  I have posted the blogs I cover or watch on a constant basis, but this week I have taken the time to really look into different areas and writers.  Wow! (again)
Most people that blog do so for 'being and becoming' something outstanding, or 'being and becoming' something different, or 'being and becoming' something unique.  From what I can tell - there is no 'having or getting' in most blogs; unless they want to have or get feedback or another perspective.
I can't wait to see what becomes of this blog - I insist on getting better.  I can't wait for this blog to become something better - transform into a give and take of information.  Definitely 'a life of being and becoming.'

Friday, July 8, 2011

Have Some Fun

The last couple of posts have been all about language and telling stories; and hopefully, also showing some fun.  So I want to spend a little bit of time talking about sounds and words - how easy they are and how easy they aren't.

I've mentioned how little ones pick up so much from mom and dad just by listening; they also pick up so much from their surroundings. Listening comes first when it comes to child and their surroundings, and answering to surroundings and those in that surrounding is what comes next.  As a child; development in so many areas are happening simultaneously.  What happens if one of those areas is compromised?  What happens if one of those areas does not develop correctly.  Easily put, well, it doesn't develop correctly - duh?  or another area of development takes over to compensate what is missing.

Okay, it happened - what can we do about it?  We continue to stimulate our children in all experiences and heighten, or increase, activities for the area that got left behind.  There are exercises, we as speech-language pathologists, do with children that help get particular sounds out that did not quite develop correctly or at all.  Those sounds interfere with the production of syllables, hence the production of words.  Let's take for example, the letter 't'  and its sound, or non-sound. 'T' is called a voiceless sound - the true production of 't' is the push of air given off the tip of the palette behind the teeth with the tongue.  Hmmm, but I'm not into explaining the physiology of it - I am into the fun part of it.  I am not into drill and kill or exercise after exercise.  Let's make it worth some fun and put it into language.  Let's go back to that letter and its sound - well. . . oh - I know!

During the ritual of brushing teeth, we are going to have some fun.  My son loved the taste of toothpaste, so I would always put just a tad on the tip of his brush and tell him I was going to put it somewhere on his teeth - he had to go and find it.  The catch??? No mirror and no fingers, he had to find it with his tongue.  So there goes the toothbrush with the toothpaste up right behind the top row of teeth on his palate.  What does his tongue do - goes right up to the the top, trying to brush off the paste.
And if you really want to have some fun - when you touch the tip of the palate with the toothbrush - you will tickle it a little by brushing off the paste.  The child giggles and the tongue immediately goes up to feel.  All the while - you are talking about the 'top' of the child's mouth 'touching' it with some 'toothpaste' with the 'toothbrush' up at the 'tippy-top' - get it off!  What fun!!  Lots of 't' words - and guess what?  They are listening to you and feeling the placement with their tongue.  Not only have you used words that begin with that letter 't' but lots of words with 't' sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of words. Whew!  Did I do that on purpose?  You bet, but what good parent doesn't sabotage some experiences with their children! 

Another couple of examples to think about with that particular sound:  cupcakes with candles you blow out by pushing that air out with the correct tongue placement; dancing on your 'tippy-toes' or playing in the 'teepee' with 'trucks' and 'trains' on the 'track's; or tsk! tsk! tsk! look at that! what do I see?
Go ahead - go have some fun!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

Love that title!  I would guess you can apply that to any area of a life - makes it sound like the other saying - 'Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly'.  In my line of work; you could say
'There are no shortcuts to anything worth saying.'  'There are no shortcuts to anything worth listening to.'
'Anything worth listening to and talking about is worth doing correctly'.
Hey - we could do this all day!  = )
So - it is never to late to do something worth doing and getting there without any shortcuts!  Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Telling in a World of Visuals

There are so many people that have a great eye for detail - in the images they see, in the room they sit in, and in the things they do.  I am not one of those people.  I am a reader, so my mind's eye captures what it needs in my head and most of the time - is told correctly and/or conveyed to others correctly.
Children begin language by conveying their thoughts or what they've heard by one great big retell! As they get older they refine, learn new vocabulary, new structures to become so much clearer in the process. Every family member loves to hear the first story coming from the youngest member of the family and then watch out - it just keeps coming!
In today's world, I think children can sometimes miss out on great storytelling elements.  The world is full of visuals everywhere, besides old-fashioned TV, new technology Hi-def TV, DVDs, games from PSP to Cubes to iPads and things I probably don't yet know about!!  Don't get me wrong - I love technology - the good and bad, but I also like technology in moderation for our children.  Do I want children to get to know technology?  Absolutely!  Do I want them to get to know technology on their own or at school?  No!  Really, I don't! By all means, keep learning at school, but begin with family at home.
Years ago, the way I learned a story, was by word of mouth or reading.  As I got older, movies and television, but you know what? I did it with my family, or a family member.  When my mom was growing up, stories came by word of mouth and books.  My grandmother, mostly word of mouth, because she didn't get to go to school until much later.
But now, wow!  Stories are right here at our fingertips - live it with your child. If they are going to do a video - do it with them.  When they are going to sleep at night - iPad stories with mommy and daddy and/or big sister and/or granddad.  Somethings should never change!
The finer elements of language are shared - the learned vocabulary that is ever growing is shared - the nuances of language are shared and learned there. We are the best examples for our children, they can't learn the best items of language on the video or computer, they are going to learn the best joke from their brother, the best new word from mom, and the best fairy tale from the grandparents.  Can't you just hear it!!!  or see it!!!
Friends telling the story - 'The Mitten' by Jan Brett