Thursday, October 9, 2008

The thankful list... #6

Tate is normal. And he is very, very Hard of Hearing.

Some of my new friends, with much littler HoH kiddos, have left questions or comments about how he does in activities, school, or sports with regular hearing kids.

In a word, great :0)

I was pretty naive when he got diagnosed, and didn't worry about a lot of things that might have caused me alarm. I just assumed he would be able to do well at whatever he wanted. There have been challenges, to be sure, but he's a trooper! Of course, as a mom I'm always second-guessing. Am I pushing too hard? Am I giving him too much slack? Are my expectations fair? Am I babying him? But then, Tate being the middle boy is a good thing, because he's right in there with his brothers :0)

It helps that his favorite sport is soccer, which (at least with little boys) doesn't involve a lot of communication on the field! And it helps that he has two brothers who don't treat him any differently than anyone else. And it really helps that he is so, well, Tate. He's just one of my boys :0) This is what I wrote, a few weeks ago, to one of the moms...

Yes, Tate and his brothers are pretty normal... whatever that is. ;-)

They think burping is a competitive sport, make it their mission in life to dismantle my living room and my sanity, and 'work' in dirt the way some artists work in oils. They all play soccer, avoid vegetables, and wiggle and squirm in church, when they don't fall asleep on my shoulder. They think that 3 or 4 hours a day of homeschool is cruel and unusual punishment, but the 18 hours of daylight in summer is impossibly short ("Mom, the day just went by in a whizz-buzz!")

For the most part, Tate does it all just fine. But sometimes he needs a little more support. Mostly it's me that needs to not take for granted that he is "getting" everything, and to be patient with repeating and explaining.

Little things make all the difference. Like waiting until the squeaky screen door finishes closing before I say whatever I need to say. Or repeating things in a different way, rather than just saying the same thing he didn't get the first time.

And here's one you might not realize yet - making sure that he 'gets' even the language that is NOT directed at him. That's how we learn a LOT of our language and vocabulary - by overhearing things that are not always said TO us. If the other kids can overhear it, Tate deserves to be able to hear it too. The hardest time for this is in the car. My husband and I will be in the front talking to each other, and the other boys can hear us (but don't care). And Tate can tell we're talking but can't make out what we're saying because of all the road noise, and gets really frustrated.

Oh my, I have really developed a "projecting" voice! And enunciating my words clearly! (Okay, really, I'm getting to have a voice like a foghorn sometimes and have to remember who I'm with and where I am!)

Oh, I too am VERY thankful for the technology of this day and age! Woo-hoo! I LOVE Tate's HA! Probably not as much as he does :0)

Also, the school provided an FM for use there, and we have a personal FM (at home) as well. Don't use it much now that we are home-schooling, but on outings it's a huge benefit. Bike rides can be scary because with the wind whistling in his HA and the helmet buffering traffic sounds I really worry - so we use the FM. Or if we're in a big crowded space (like visiting the Science Center) I can get his attention from across the room. And soccer! Tate couldn't hear the coach or the referee, so we started using the FM for soccer. Now I have to discipline myself not to 'micro-coach' him!

Tate has been losing hearing since we discovered his loss. There were clues earlier - disinterested in me reading to him (too quiet) and videos (because I always kept the volume low), but really he was coping so well, we couldn't tell he had hearing loss until I realized he couldn't talk (hear!) on the phone.

Also, he was a wanderer. Not that he would run away from me (defiance) but he would just launch out. Who knows if that's just his confident personality or due to not being engaged in what was going on because he wasn't hearing it well enough.

We use a combination of WHATEVER WORKS for communication. I guess there can be REALLY strong opinions out in the deaf community regarding communication choices, but my 'm.o.' is WHATEVER IS WORKING!

We had actually been doing a little bit of signing long before we realized Tate was HoH. I had a friend who did it with her kids, and it just eliminated a whole lot of whining and pointing. Worked for my kids too. They could sign "more" or "milk" or "all done" long before they could say those things. I think we used: please, thank you, water, milk, sorry, more, all done, and just 3 or 4 more, really. But it helped.

What we do isn't really ASL or SEE, but more of "sign supported speech". Tate does really well with his HA in a quiet environment. Of course, he is lip- and face-reading a LOT. But in a noisy environment or at a distance we try to throw some signs in there with the words to give him more clues. When your kiddo hears English word order, it's confusing to do ASL word order. But I don't use all the SEE sign word modifiers.

We were camping last weekend and he was running around in big clunky (cracked and leaky!) rain boots. I was trying to call to him to come get his shoes but he had no idea. If you say "shoe", "you", "too", "do", "chew"... your face looks about the same. But all I had to do was sign "come" and "shoes" with the words, and he was right there.

Things I am REALLY thankful for:

* Tate doesn't seem to have any self-consciousness about his HA or hearing loss.

* I haven't known about any instances of him being teased. There have been some children who were less than tactful in asking about the HA and what's going on, but they weren't really mean-spirited, just clueless.

* When he first got HA's (he used to wear two) I was worried that he would randomly take them out and lose them. Apparently some kids do. But once he got used to them he NEVER wanted them out!

* And - Bonus Round! - he's my best sleeper. Take the HA out and turn the lights off and Tate is just gone. He slept through a four hour electrical storm, the likes of which I have never seen before in this state!

* Though it took awhile, (later than my first child), Tate has become an excellent reader. This is HUGE for HoH/Deaf kids because it keeps them exposed to good language, vocabulary, grammar, etc. I read recently that the average reading level for deaf ADULTS in America is third grade. Not good. And even for graduates of Gallaudet, the average was a seventh grade reading level. Still not very good. We REALLY do a lot of reading :0) I prayed and prayed for him to learn to read, because he struggled with it. Don't know if that is a 'deaf' issue with him, or - again - just a Tate issue.

* Tate is one of the most persistent, persevering, hard-working people I have ever known. Well, darn it, he's just plain stubborn and bull-headed sometimes (!) but I'm looking at the bright side.

* And I love his sense of humor. Gets us all through rough spots.

But oh my, the NOISE. Tate is a boy of noise. He truly believes that making all sorts of sound-effect noises is a gift, straight from God. At least Tate is never hard to find. You can nearly always hear him.

You will have an interesting life :0)

God bless,


It also helps that Tate embraces life with uncontainable exuberance!


Denise Portis said...

Ha ha, love that last picture! You and your hubby have adopted some great practices to maximize all that Tate can do, and help with those things he struggles to do!

I have to agree with the "reading" comments too. I live within "spittin' distance" of Gallaudet, and reading skills (especially of those who chose ASL to communicate) affect writing skills and language skills over all. It's a "2nd" language for those who choose ASL as their primary. Tate reading well is a huge plus.

With boys, (at least MY boy) it was hard to find things that interested him. Not like "Anna of Green Gables" or "Little House on the Prairie" series were going to cut it! (Seems like it was Boxcar Kids and Wally McDougal)

I'm the only one HoH (deafie) in my family. However, my hearing kiddos only knew closed captioning on t.v., or videos. They actually can't "hear" well (tongue in cheek) when they are at someone's house who doesn't use it! They grew up with it, and t.v., looks "weird" without it. And hey! Did that ever mobilize their reading skills! Oh my!

One day Tate will add to your list of "thankful for's".

* Having parents who CARE


Anonymous said...

Like all children, Tate will learn the nuances of the world on his own terms, and in all due time. Judging by your dedication, it seems Tate is in a very good place.

Be well. -- Dr. Killjoy

tammy said...

Tate sounds like an amazing child! You are a lucky mommy! You mentioned a lot in the post that I haven't thought about yet, but I'm sure it will come as Aiden gets older. I can see in Aiden's personality already that he's going to be similar to Tate, strong minded, humorous and a real go getter! GO TATE!!!

Julie said...


I'm so glad you mentioned the fact that English is a second language for native ASL speakers.

I look back at the post and realize that I should have stated that differently. I'm NOT trying to say "Why can't those deaf people learn to read better?", but to acknowlede how difficult it IS for a Deaf/Hoh person to learn reading.

I'm thankful that Tate CAN read well (for a 9 year old!) because if he loses more/all hearing he can continue to be exposed to English through reading. And likely CI's :0)

My apologies to anyone I may have offended by the way I mentioned the reading levels.


Anonymous said...

Your Tate sounds a lot like my Henry. :) I saw a lot of similarities in what you've written about him...especially the noise-maker part!!! He sounds like a great boy!

Julie said...

Well, thanks, Kristen :0) I think he's a pretty great kid, too!

Seems like when God gives a kid a burden to carry, like Hearing Loss, He also compensates with some extras. Tate is far more persistent (yes, stubborn!) than my other two, for instance.

We'd love to meet Henry (and Aiden, and all the other kids I've "met" through the blog), but it sounds like we're at opposite ends of the country :-(


leahlefler said...

You have been a great comfort since Tate is older and doing so well. It can be so hard when you have a little baby and you just don't know how hearing loss is going to affect their lives. Nolan already LOVES books (thank God for early intervention and amplification) and seems to "get" language much easier than his brother.

Ambulance Mommy said...

Thanks Julie, that post meant a lot to me! :)

Went to see the audiologist today, for a "mom and dad only" and what are we doing for the future chat, but she double booked, and we got bumped. Very annoying!!!