Friday, October 29, 2010

TWO Milestones Today!

Every Friday we attend a class, Muscles and Messes, that is put on through a private Occupational Therapist paid for through the county as an Early Intervention service. The ten week class is for kids who have sensory integration challenges and is run by an OT who specializes in SI and a speech therapist. Each session focuses on a different sensory input. The parents are provided information on the specific input along with ways to help the kids overcome different challenges. During the hour session, the kids run and play and swirl and twirl and crash and swing and slide and push weighted down shopping carts and smear paint or shaving cream all over the windows and ride the zip line and play in the ball pit and crash some more. It's an hour of nonstop fun,

and by the time we walk out of there, Aiden has had his sensory fill and will actually SIT in a shopping cart. The class is PHENOMENAL!

At the end of each class, we sing the "clean up" song then head to circle time to sing our good-bye song, to which each kid is prompted to say their own name.

Milestone #1 - After the clean up song, Aiden actually went and SAT DOWN on his own, and was the first one there and prompted the other kids to "sit own". He typically needs to be guided each step and repetitively told but through his own listening, he knew the song was over and the next step he needed to take! Even more shocking, he actually sat through the whole good-bye song. I'm usually the only mom sitting in the circle without a kid since he's the one who is still up and running trying to get in every ounce of play he can.

Milestone #2 - During the good-bye song, AIDEN prompted everyone else to say their name. I had to look to make sure I had the right child, because in any type of therapy/class setting, Aiden At each child's turn, he would point to them and say, "name?" and then try and get them to say, "Aiden." He wanted everyone to be Aiden. Of course, when it was his turn to say his name, he said nothing, but by golly, everyone else was "Aiden".

These are huge for us. H-U-G-E, HUGE! I hate that we only have four classes left and that this OT has a waiting list a mile long, because as comfortable as Aiden is there and as awesome as this OT is with sensory related challenges, he could make some huge strides.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Preschool Tours ... Already?!?

Just months after Aiden's cochlear implants were activated, he discovered the sound of an airplane as we sat watching his brother's baseball game. I was lucky enough to hear the plane ahead of him and had camera in hand, ready to capture the moment, praying he heard it too. Sure enough, he was astonished, staring into the sky, HEARING it, as he watched it fly over. I marked another simply amazing moment on my never ending list as tears rolled down my face.

Fast forward to today and I just cannot believe we are at the point that Aiden's daddy and I will be touring, at the least, three different preschools to send Aiden to AND are beginning the process of transitioning him from an IFSP to an IEP, which will happen once Aiden turns three. Where has the time gone?

All my life I've been one to cram. I was the college student who wrote every paper at the very last minute; the one who studied zero all week until the night before the test and then pulled all nighters with my two liter of Mountain Dew by my side. This is not the time to cram, although I'm getting close to that mark. Now that we're only five months out from Aiden's third birthday, the time is NOW to understand all I can about the laws, the terminologies, our RIGHTS, the procedures, what we want written into his IEP, etc, to a "TEE" in order to be able to stand up and speak intelligibly for what we know is best for our little listener.

I saved this Preschool Placement Checklist for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Kids from Drew's mom quite awhile back, knowing I would use it one day. I plan to fill it out during each visit to help us in choosing the right preschool fit for Aiden and our family. We did consider touring some mainstream preschools in our area, and we still may. We feel pretty strong though that what Aiden needs at this time is a deaf oral preschool program. We feel a placement in this type of program will definitely benefit him and help reach our goal to have him mainstreamed by kindergarten. I'm excited about all the tours and love the fact that we have different deaf oral preschool options. Options are always a good thing.

Aside from choosing the correct preschool program, we know there is MUCH, MUCH more to this whole transition process. I would love any additional tips, advice, websites, suggestions, etc that you can share that helped make the transition to an IEP easier for you and your family. I'm getting too old to cram it all in last minute ... and Mountain Dew just isn't my thing anymore.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hello Language Explosion

Back in August, Aiden's expressive and receptive language were evaluated using the SKI-HI Language Development Scale by our Regional Infant Hearing Program (RIHP) and the REEL-3 by his Auditory Verbal Therapist (AVT).

The SKI-HI is a language assessment that was specifically designed for children ages birth to five who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The REEL-3 (Receptive-Expressive Emergent Language Test) is a language assessment that is given to help identify infants and toddlers who may have language impairments or other disabilities that can affect language development.

Both test results are obtained through parent interview.

When we first moved to Ohio, we did the SKI-HI, but not the REEL-3.

February 2010 - Chronological Age=23 months; Hearing Age=11 months
  • Receptive Language: 20-22 months
  • Expressive Language - 16-18 months
August 2010 - Chronological Age = 29 months; Hearing Age = 17 months
  • Receptive via SKI-HI: 32-36 months; via REEL-3: 35 months
  • Expressive via SKI-HI: 22-24 months; via REEL-3: 24 months
So, within six months time, my little monkey not only increased his receptive language skills by 12 months, he has receptively surpassed his chronological age.

Expressively, he gained six months of language, in six months, and is still about five months below his chronological age, but still above his hearing age. In my eyes though, this is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING ... you know, being the fact this is a boy who was born PROFOUNDLY DEAF. and I only have the highest expectations that not only will he catch up to his CA, he will go way beyond. It's only a matter of time because ...

... the boy is talking. Check out what he's saying at the right (yes, I finally updated it) - and this is just what he says spontaneously and in the correct context. I did not include the many words he imitates.

He has an expressive vocabulary of over 200 words. Over 100 of these words have been added in the last THREE and A HALF months (July to present)! Leaving the first 100 to the first 16 months. Hmmm, doesn't make much sense does it?

Ummm... can you say major mapping issues? and finally identified motor planning problems from his sensory integration. I believe too, that all his gains in his gross motor skills the past six months have allowed for this recent language explosion.

I am SO PROUD of my little man and all he has accomplished. He has come such a long ways in the past six months alone and I can't wait to see what the next six months brings!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Simply Amazing Moment 3,258

The other day I was upstairs getting Aiden dressed for the day
when I heard one of our cats meowing and scratching at the front door to come in.
This is not uncommon in our household as our cats are IN and OUT,
which yes, is quite annoying.

I didn't think much of it since it is such a common sound,
but Aiden stopped and pointed to his ear; so we both sat and listened.
Then a huge smile crept up on his face, and
said, "Cat! Meow!" then lead me downstairs to let the cat in.

He heard the cat meowing, outside, no windows open, from upstairs in his bedroom.

and I was simply amazed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Regional Infant Hearing Program

and checkout who's on the cover of our RIHP's newest brochure!

This was taken in the Spring at one of the hearing loss toddler playgroups we attend through the program. There's actually a tear in his eye as this is when he was Mr. Cling, but now he can't get in the room fast enough!

The Ohio Department of Health funds several Regional Infant Hearing Programs (RIHP) throughout the state of Ohio. These services provide families of babies and toddlers identified with a permanent hearing loss free of charge and are in addition to any services we receive through our county. The Columbus program provides services to families in nine surrounding counties. It is through this program which we are offered a parent advisor (our wonderful Ms. Natalie whom we see once a month for therapy ... only once a month because of the areas growing clientele of parents with babies/toddlers identified with hearing loss) and attend a bi-weekly parent support/toddler group. They also offer audiological support from a licensed Educational Audiologist and are an excellent provider of resources and information.

We are very lucky to live in a state/county which provides such wonderful services for Aiden, not just as a toddler, but also once he turns three and begins preschool.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Smorgasbord of Updates

Not posting in awhile PLUS tons of unfinished posts sitting out in Never, Never Land EQUALS stress in my OCD mind. To clear my head and stop the massive pile up of posts screaming to be finished, I decided to sum it all up in one, which is probably best since I'll be to the point and not ramble on like I often can.

1) Vacation! - Let's start with the important things first. ; ) Aiden's daddy and I just got back from a much needed get-away to Vegas with my husband's sister and her husband. It was our first trip without kids AND without going to see family in over 10 years! Our 16 year anniversary is coming up (smile) and they just celebrated their 10 year (smile). Aiden's awesome grandma drove in from Wisconsin to stay with the kids while we flew off to Sin City. I didn't realize how worn out I was until my body took over my fun and went into complete relax mode. I did more laying in the sun and sleeping than anything else. My mom did a FABULOUS job in keeping up with Aiden's CIs, participating in his therapies, and by the time she left, he even had some new vocabulary added to his growing list. We all had an amazing time, came back more relaxed and are now ready for the beach!

2) New Audiologist - We decided to switch Aiden's audiology center from Cincinnati Children's to Cleveland Clinic strictly for convenience. We loved the audiologist we had in Cinci, but traveling two hours west one week then two hours north another was wearing. Our newest audiologist was trained and highly recommended from our old one, works hand in hand with Aiden's AVT, Dr. Don, AND is training to be an AV under him as well. So not only is she Aiden's new audiologist, she participates in his Saturday AV therapies as well. She is absolutely wonderful with Aiden and he responds very well to her.

3) Mapping Madness - A few weeks ago we had a third audiology appointment within six weeks. We're still trying to get Aiden's maps back on track and with the looks of his latest audiogram, we're well on the way. I was shocked Dr. Rachel got results across the board like this because the boy wouldn't sit still and really wanted nothing to do with the testing. So I'm sure they're even better than what the audiogram below shows, which would put him hearing between 20 and 25db across the board! We go back in a couple weeks for AV therapy and another audiology appt. to confirm these results and make any necessary mapping adjustments.

4. Speech Therapy - Back in early summer I debated adding on more of a traditional speech therapy for Aiden and decided to go ahead and try it for six to eight weeks. Well, we are going to continue with Ms. Cheryl as we absolutely see a difference in Aiden's overall tone and breath control. She has been amazing at providing us ideas on how to work with Aiden's sensory issues and low muscle tone which are affecting his motor planning skills and therefore his speech production. We know Aiden gets it receptively. He's well above age level in his receptive language. It's expressive where he lacks. He is starting to speak in a lot of two/three word sentences, it's just that you can't understand a lot of them (unless it is something that has become very repetitive for him, such as "get down" or "all done" or "it's stuck"). If he were to say each of the two or three words separately, you'd understand each one pretty well. But when he goes to put two or more words together, they come out all jumbled. We brought up the concern of apraxia, but she doesn't see it in Aiden. She is also helping us with specific speech sounds (right now we're working on /p/). Since we've been seeing her, Aiden is now producing a perfect "ee" and can hold a sound for a much longer duration AND at different pitches; something he couldn't do before.

5. Auditory Verbal Therapy - We continue to see Dr. Don two times a month. We drive to Cleveland once a month so Aiden's daddy or siblings can participate in a Saturday session, and then to the college where Dr. Don teaches once a month which is closer to home. This man is amazing and Aiden responds very well to him. We're blessed to have him on our team. Right now we're working on 1) identifying "ing" verbs and using them in simple sentences such as, "The boy is riding.", 2) sorting higher level groups such as types of animals (farm vs. water vs. zoo/jungle) and fruits vs. vegetables and 3) discriminating between similar sounding words, such as house and mouth, 4) story telling through Aiden's daily experience book (which I'll detail in a separate post).

5. PT and OT - Six months ago my son couldn't walk on or off a one inch floor mat without falling. He would have to completely stop, throw his arms out for balance, then carefully walk up or down. One inch. Many days he walked around like a drunken sailor. He could barely run and definitely couldn't jump. There's not a better time to see improvements in gross motor than summertime. Parks, play dates outside, riding bikes, climbing, running up and down hills, camping, swimming, etc. This summer we saw TREMENDOUS gains in Aiden's gross motor. He is now RUNNING, jumping (well more like trotting, but sometimes he'll get both feet off the ground), and best of all - he's PEDALING his tricycle! He still has some off balance days, but he's learning to compensate for them and is finally keeping up physically with his peers.

With his gross motor gains and ideas from his wonderful PT to continue to work on at home, we're going to stop PT for awhile and pick up OT, but this time with a therapist who specializes solely with sensory integration. Sensory is such a beast to understand and can affect so much, including speech production. I don't feel like I have a good handle on it and need a lot better guidance on how I can help Aiden conquer his sensory needs in order to move forward with his expressive language and speech production ... oh and learning how to calm his major hyperness/daredevil ways wouldn't hurt either.

6. Transition Time - I CANNOT BELIEVE we're at the point of leaving county services and beginning to look at PRESCHOOLS! To me, this means Aiden is almost THREE and growing up way too fast! I'm in the process of touring local preschools (more to come on this) and at the end of this month we'll have our transition planning conference with our local school district. It is a very brief meeting which we'll introduce ourselves and let them know which preschools we'll be touring as well as where we would like Aiden's evaluation done to determine eligibility of services.

7. and the best for last - Aiden. Aiden is taking off. His vocabulary is growing daily (I know. I SO need to update that vocab. list to the right), he is reaching the goals set for him, and you can just see his little brain constantly in discovery mode. He knows his colors, his shapes, his numbers (not just rote counting, but identifies them written up to 10) and is starting to recognize certain letters. He's having little conversations with us. He tells his brother, sister, and the cats what to do, he tells everything bye-bye (except his therapists, because why on earth would he talk to them?), and is starting to express his wants and needs so much more than he ever has. He has finally learned to EXPRESS the word NO ... and as he says it, he signs it just as fast! Dr. Don says he's on the verge of a 2-3 word sentences language explosion, "Deafness, shmeffness", he says, "he hears and speaks better than many hearing kids I know."

I love this journey.