Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

 Happy Halloween!

Ava just received her new Skin-its for her processors!  We are really happy with them.  The skins fit both the regular length and compact rechargeable batteries.  

When Ava removed her processors tonight, she put them both together like this and said "look mommy, my CI's make a heart".  I love that kid!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ava starts Kindergarten!

Ava in her uniform
Ava started Kindergarten this month.  It has been going super well.  I had some reservations as Ava's school implemented a full day program for the first time which meant she would be in a class of 30 noisy three and four year olds together with one teacher and one early childhood educator (E.C.E.).  This, coupled with the fact that her classroom is openly connected to two other noisy 30 kid full day Kindergarten classrooms, made me worry that noise would be an issue.  We decided before school started that she would benefit from a soundfield system in her classroom and this has made things oh so much better for her.  Both the teacher and ECE wear the transmitter and they alternate between the two of them who would be doing the teaching as they both cannot be on the system simultaneously.  They have worked this out very well between the two of them.  Also, the soundfield is portable and it is brought to the gym and worn by the gym teacher.  The proof that the soundfield is working well for Ava is how she comes home day after day demonstrating the new songs she learns at school; how she remembers the lyrics and has a pretty good articulation of the songs.  She blew my socks off with her near perfect rendition of our national anthem "Oh Canada" last week.  She is making lots of new friends but lucked out with having her best friend from pre-school placed in her classroom (one of the perks of having a child with a disability).  Her compact rechargeable batteries last throughout the school day but we find that they run out of power a bit sooner now thus we are changing her batteries at about 6pm daily.   Her itinerant TOD comes in once a week to make sure the soundfield is working efficiently and spends time with Ava in the classroom to get a feel of how things are going for her, and to see whether the classroom needs any further modifications to reduce noise.  Soon, Ava will be pulled out of her class once a week to work one on one with the TOD.  One of the projects they will work on is introducing her cochlear implants to her classmates.  Cochlear Corporation apparently has colouring books that we can order which Ava can give to her class while she is doing her presentation. 

There are a couple exciting products for cochlear implants that I am dying to share:

SKIN-ITS - I've ordered Ava "skins" which are custom made for her Nucleus 5 processors.  I can't wait to get my hands on them.  She is so excited.  She picked out a Hello Kitty design.  Her brown processors are so.....boring and look like, well, like medical devices.  The skin-its will certainly give her CI's character and I'm sure her classmates will be sooooo jealous :)

WATERPROOF BAGS for Nucleus 5's. - Cochlear Corporation (finally) came up with their own solution to waterproofing the Nucleus 5.  A custom made waterproof ziploc-type single use bag so Ava can wear her processors on her ear and go SWIMMING.  Click here  for a picture of the bag.  From what I can tell, Ava will still have to utilize a swim cap given the fact she dives in 8 feet of water for pool sticks.  Ava was not a fan of swim caps so we will see if she will be receptive to wearing the new bag.  Certainly a step in the right direction by Cochlear and I trust we will see a fully waterproof processor in the near future!  The bags are available in Canada (yay for us) but are just awaiting FDA approval.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Camp! (and another speech sample)

Ava has been spending a few weeks this summer doing full day camp programs.  She will be starting full day kindergarten this fall.  She has adjusted extremely well being away all day.  The last two weeks, she has been doing the gymnastics program.  She really loves it.  I keep her processors on using wig-tape and I secure her cables to her hair using little mini hair clips (the claw type ones with the spring).  Also, I screwed her magnets in a little closer to her head so that the  coils wouldn't pop off so easily.  This worked really well for her.  

I really love how they teach the kids new songs at camp.  In the past, when Ava would learn a new song at school, I would have to practice with her at home to make sure she has her articulation down pat.  She would often mispronounce some of the lyrics; especially new vocabulary.

Yesterday she came home from camp having learned the "Doggie Doggie Who's Got the Bone" song.   I was SO impressed that she learned the whole thing in one day.  With the exception of a couple of words, she did really well with it.  She was so dang cute I just have to share it with you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meeting Rachel!

Today was an extra special day for us, definitely one of the highlights of my year.

Let me tell you why.

Rachel and Ava
A few years ago,  while in the midst of shedding tears  trying to get my hands on ANYTHING I could find out about deafness and cochlear implants for Ava, who had just been diagnosed as profoundly deaf, I came across this amazing blog "".  The creator of that blog, is Rachel Chaikof.  Rachel is a young woman who is deaf and has bilateral cochlear implants.  She was implanted at the age of 3 in 1989 and was one of the first children to be implanted in the U.S.   Rachel is a success story.  She excelled in school, mastered the french language, received numerous academic awards, became a poster child for Better Hearing and Speech Month, graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Savannah College of Art and Design and works as Community Engagement Manager for a company that provides an on-line platform for corporations managing community involvement.  You can read more about Rachel's accomplishments here.

Today, we were super excited because we got to meet Rachel in person.  My husband and I were in awe of her.  She is the whole package -  intelligent, articulate and beautiful.  My husband got to talk about US politics with her and I got to talk to her about FM systems, her experiences as a college student living in residence and learn things about the functions on Ava's processors that will come in handy when she is older.

And Ava, went to bed tonight, excitedly chatting about her afternoon with Rachel "who has CI's like me Mommy!"

Rachel, thank you from the bottom of our heart, for doing what you do. For reaching out to the 70,000 people per month who read your blog, a place where one can learn all he or she needs to know about  hearing loss and cochlear implants.  For your tireless efforts to spread awareness about hearing loss.  And especially for taking the time to meet Ava.  There really is no better role model, than you!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ava has graduated from Pre School!

Ava graduated from Pre School yesterday! I can't believe the year is over.  She had a fantastic year at Silver Creek Pre School.  She met all of her language goals and we couldn't be more proud.  She blossomed socially and made a ton of friends.  She was so eager to participate in anything and everything, especially  "Show and Share".   She was always super excited to go to school each day.  

Ava receiving her diploma from her teachers Sueann and Tahlia

Earlier this week, I attended a Case Conference with the administrators of Ava's new school where she will be attending Kindergarten this September.  At this meeting, it was determined what supports Ava will receive at her new mainstream school.  She will receive a Soundfield system, weekly intervention with her d/hh itinerant teacher, in-service for the staff on cochlear implants,  her classroom will have the appropriate modifications made to reduce background noise such as hush ups on the chairs.  Her existing IEP will be carried through to the new school and adjusted in the fall.  While her articulation is improving, it is still not quite age-appropriate in terms of when she is speaking in sentences.  There is still work ahead of us in making sure she continues to progress with her language and not fall behind.  We will miss having her weekly TOD visits which were chock full of therapy.  In fact I plan to make an appointment with her auditory verbal therapist to have an assessment done to see exactly where she is at and from this arm ourselves with some goals to work on for the summer.  With our deaf kiddos, we always have to be on top of things and work ahead whenever possible as it is so easy for them to fall behind at school.

Attached is a video clip of Ava reading some words.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pensive Ava

Ava refuses to wear her CI's first thing in the morning.  Upon awakening, she wants to play a little by herself and eat breakfast in total silence.  During this time she becomes very pensive and deep in thought.  Shortly after she eats, she asks for her CI's and is ready to hear.  Hearing folks may not understand this. How could she not want to hear all the time? Why does she do this?  I'll tell you.  Having that ability to choose not to hear is bliss.  I love taking my out hearing aids at night, and sleeping in total silence.  I also, as a little girl, would not put my hearing aid in right away when I woke up, and would prefer to eat my cereal in silence.  It was my time to lose myself to my thoughts.  I was not ready to be bombarded with all the noise that my busy bustling household brought.  I'm telling you, the silence is so peaceful and relaxing. I love it.

Ava, I totally get it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Social Interactions of Kids with hearing loss in School

My husband and I attended at lecture at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto last week.  The topic discussed was Social Interactions of Kids with Cochlear Implants in School. The guest speaker was Dr. Janet Jamieson, associate professor and director of the Program in Education for the deaf and hard of hearing at the University of British Colombia.  She has conducted extensive research on peer interaction among hard of hearing children and their hearing peers in elementary school.  Her research was designed to explore the challenges and coping skills of hard of hearing children (she stressed her research was in relation to kids who have hearing loss; not necessarily with cochlear implants - although she found similar results in the little research that has been conducted exclusively with implanted children) who are integrated into regular classrooms in terms of establishing and maintaining friendships.

It is very likely (but not always) that the hard of hearing child will feel socially isolated and withdraw at times because communication in a mainstream school and outside in the school yard can be difficult.  It could be because they have trouble following rapid fire verbal exchanges between their peers, or not understand the quick rule changes that children may make in their daily play, or perhaps your child feels left out because they don't know the lyrics to popular songs, or maybe they misinterpret subtle social cues.  Perhaps they have trouble knowing what to say if they just want to be included with a group of other kids already engaged in an activity.  Some deaf children just need encouragement and a boost, to help them seek and build friendships.

Here are a few tips that Dr. Jamieson provided to help boost your child's self esteem and encourage friendship building:

1.  Usually all a child needs is at least one good friend at school.  Invite this child over to your house, often.

2.  Consider signing up your child for after school activities that encourage social interaction, such as a sports team or drama.  Encourage a friendship with a team mate outside of the regular team practices/games.

3.  Model how you would have your child join in a group of other children playing.  For example, if a group of boys have been playing with trucks at recess, send your child to school with a truck and have him just walk over to the group and start playing with them.

4.  Get to know the parents of your child's peers.  For example, Ava's older sister Lauren, who is 7, was upset about a particular classmate who was bossy and a bit of a bully.  I got to know this classmate's mother and initiated having this classmate come over for a playdate.  Now, Lauren and this classmate are good friends and regularly visit each other's homes.

5.  If your hard of hearing child participates regularly in a group sport activity at recess (such as kicking around a soccer ball with a bunch of other kids), research showed that that child was as popular or more popular. 

6.  We have to realize that sometimes our child enjoys solitary or quiet play and that is ok.  It does not necessarily mean she has withdrawn from group play due to a hearing issue. 

A few of my own tips:

7.  Print off the lyrics to the popular songs for your child (clean version of course!)

8.  Learn the rules to common school yard games and lyrics to jump rope songs and practice with your child.

9.  Another mom always buys the latest tech gadgets for her older implanted child (iPod touch, smartphone) so that they can text with their friends and not feel left out.

10.  As soon as your child starts school, have them do a show and tell about their hearing aids or cochlear implants.  Have your child explain, with confidence, why they are wearing equipment on their ears and how it works.  Practice with your child what to say if someone at school asks "what are those things on your ears/head?"

If you have any additional suggestions that may be helpful, I would love to see them.  Please post a comment with your suggestions!

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Sara and Ava
Ava had her first school mate playdate. Little Sara's mother overheard Ava and Sara at school making plans to go to each other's houses for a playdate. How dang cute is that? They are only 3 years old! So, Sara's mom and I arranged to get the girls together for their first real playdate. It was a huge success.  Afterall, these two monkeys attend pre-school together 3 days a week plus a pre-school program run by the City of Toronto on Monday afternoons.  "Sara is my best friend!", Ava proclaimed after Sara had left.  The best part of the playdate? Just listening to the two girls converse while playing with Ava's Petshop toys and not noticing any difference between their language skills.  Mission Accomplished. We've already booked their next playdate.  And coincidentally, Sara and Ava will be attending the same school for kindergarten next year.  I've got a feeling this is the start of a long lasting, beautiful friendship.