Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dog Trees

I've been reading a new book Keys to Raising a Deaf Child by Virginia Frazier-Maiwald and Lenore M Williams, M.A. I wish I would have found this book a long time ago, but am thankful for it now, and would recommend it HIGHLY to anyone who finds out that their child is deaf or hard of hearing. It's the most pro-child book I've read and cuts through all the different theories on how best to raise a deaf child and makes the information accessible to a hearing parent who is looking to give their deaf child the very best chance in life that they can.

Now having said that I will say that it is not necessarily a pro-homeschool book, but I don't really find that to be a drawback. It contains information that I've not seen anywhere else in such a succinct and straightforward manner. Everything from the pros and cons of each of the ideas on educating deaf children to a frank discussion on what it takes for a deaf kid to learn language and how vitally important that is to the child. John currently attends the Moog School for the Deaf in Columbia, Mo., we are blessed to have them and thankful that they are there. We are also blessed that in this oral only school John has a therapist who sees the need for him to have sign language and other communication options, who sees that language is of the primary importance and oral can come when it comes.

One of the things emphasized in this book is that for a deaf child to learn English it has got to be spoken to them, if they have amplified residual hearing, but that they have also got to have it signed correctly for them too. As any older person who is new to hearing loss and hearing aids will tell you, even the best most expensive hearing aids don't replace good working ears. Some speech is lost and according to this book what is the most lost is endings and the ability to differentiate between similar sounding words.

We've known for a while that John has a hard time with 'big' and 'pig' and can tell them in context now, but on their own he's guessing unless you are enunciating very, very well. What we didn't realize until a couple days ago was how hard it was for him to pick up the ending of the words. We had a good chuckle over our lesson, when he started telling us that he wanted to 'open' the cabinet to get out the 'dog trees'. It took me a second to realize what was going on, that he was after the 'dog treats', but since he can't quite hear the ending for the word and has no sign for 'treat' it's still 'dog trees'. Now the dogs don't care what you call them, at least Maggie is ready for them all the time, but really we want John to have a better command of the English language than that. So today we found that there was no SEE or ASL word for 'treat' and taught him to call them 'dog snacks' he was fine with this for the moment, but it sure showed us how intricate these language issues are going to be.

Thankfully John is a very smart little boy, he craves language like women crave chocolate and would like nothing better than for us to sit and talk, read, work on signs, and such with him. This has shown us that we are going to have to take some further steps around here to insure that he keeps up with language comprehension and so now we are imposing a 'sign language only time' for while John is down for his naps, okay other than when we have company. This was suggested to us by some savvy deaf-ed homeschooling mommies as a way to make us practice both our expressive and receptive sign skills and it's certainly time for mom and dad to get with the program and make sure that we can sign fluently so that John will learn to do so too! Oh and if you're wondering why we decided to do it during John's naps, well mom and dad are ssslllooooowwwwww and will have to finger spell stuff because their current sign vocab is not any bigger than John's, and we don't want to overly frustrate the toddler, besides he needs to keep learning to use his hearing too, at least that's the excuse I'm using at the moment :)

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