CI Activation

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School

No tears, only smiles and words of excitement from the kids about the first day of school. I only teared up when I walked away from Sidney's locker this morning.

Sidney gave the day a 9.5 out of 10. She made a couple of new friends and was able to reconnect with a friend from church camp during recess. She jumped right into her new school environment and didn't miss a beat. Mama bear was worried all Sunday and today for nothing!

Thomas was quite anxious for the bus following an early lunch late this morning (as you can see from this photo). His auditory/oral inclusion class has 9 hearing peers and 1 bilateral CI kiddo. I received a call from his TOD after school to tell me that Thomas jumped right back into the classroom and was ready to make new friends. The best comment EVER that she told me today...If you didn't know Thomas and walked into the classroom today, you wouldn't know that he is hearing impaired.

Big smile from mama bear and a HUGE thank you to our Lord above...He has covered us with more blessings than I can count...we will stay on His path, not ours; and keep faith in His direction.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Simple Question...

Cook Children's Rehab is doing a promotion during Rehab Week. So, the cert-AVTs asked parents to answer one simple question and provide a photograph of their child.

The question was this:

What are some accomplishments your child has made/done by having a cochlear implant you thought he/she would never do?

I thought about this question long and hard for several days. While the question seemed quite straightforward, I struggled with defining Thomas' accomplishments without writing a diatribe. I couldn't pinpoint "some accomplishments" without those accomplishments leading to ten others.

So, here is what I wrote:

Following activation just over 3-years ago, we had one simple goal for Thomas. Sean and I wanted Thomas to be a typical child. Today, he is that typical child and so much more. He is a 4-year old that loves to argue with his sister, thrives on negotiating nearly everything, adores going to school and learning new things, holds many friendships dear to his heart, and wants to play every possible sport. So, his greatest accomplishment is being "normal." No, he is exceptional, just with bionic ears.

And, this was the accompanying photo:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Happy Hearing Birthday, My Crazy Boy!

I can't believe that it has been three years since Thomas first heard with his CI. While it seems like just yesterday in many ways, it also feels like an eternity with countless AVT sessions, speech therapy, OT for his sensory processing challenges and three changes in schools to find the best fit for him.

Three years ago today, this is where we were:

Just seeing him turn to the sound of the initial beeps made my heart soar with hope, anticipation and pure joy. Prior to surgery and activation, he went from having roughly 17 words to 2, Mama and Dada. EVA/LVAS is a wicked diagnosis! Witnessing Thomas lose virtually all of his hearing in his right ear was devastating to say the least. On activation day, all that changed...the hard work to get him to truly listen and speak with new technology began to take hold, mold us, change us...forever!

Today, we are all in a completely different place. Thomas isn't just saying 17 words. He is saying 17 words in a single utterance. For example, just today he asked me about our playing with some friends tomorrow. He asked, "Mom, are Cydney and Allie coming over to our house tomorrow? Or are we going over to their house to play?" These are the words of a "typical hearing 4-year old" not one that just truly began hearing 3 years ago.

Thomas is testing at or above his hearing peers across the various testing areas. While he still has lots of work to do before going to kindergarden next year, he is making HUGE progress, learning new concepts, terms and self-advocacy He is also suppose to be discharged from AVT at the end of the summer, although I'll keep pushing to have Ms. Becky still see him every two weeks.

Sidney, his sister, is more accepting of Thomas and his challenges. She is no longer jealous of the time that I have to spend with him. She is a typical 10-year old that doesn't want to play therapy games. I have to remind myself that this type of behavior out of 10-year old is normal. Just to accept that fact and keep praying that God will keep her from turning into a teenager before I'm ready (if I ever will be ready).

Sean and I are in a very good place. We don't really see Thomas' technology, only seeing it to make sure that it is on his ears. He is our son. Our amazing son. Our son that is hearing impaired in one ear and deaf in the other...this won't define him in our eyes. We expect greatness from Thomas...we expect the world...I simply can't wait to see where we will all be three years from now...only God knows...for now I'll be thankful for what we have and eager for the future.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Hands, Broken Ears

Recently, we went to our local grocery store to pick up a few things. At check out, Thomas had a quick conversation with the person that sacked our groceries. Not out of the ordinary for Thomas to strike-up a conversation with a stranger, but this stranger didn't have any hands...and he was sacking our groceries...without any hands.

Thomas: "What happened to your hands?"

Sacker: "When I was young, I got sick and the doctors had to remove my hands."

Thomas: "Oh, that's not good."

Sacker: "What happened to your ears?"

Thomas: "This is my implant and my hearing aid (turning his head to show the sacker). They help me hear. My ears are broken."

Sacker: "Oh, they are pretty cool."

Thomas: "Yep, you are pretty cool, too."

Sacker: "Thanks. See you next time."

Thomas: "Okay, see you next time."

A pretty cool conversation between a young man with no hands and a "medium kid" (as Thomas calls himself)with broken ears.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An Overdue Update

I can't believe that it has been months since I posted an update. While I was away from writing, we sold our house, bought a new house, moved, ended the school year and had our last tee-ball game of the season. Oh...and we had our IEP goals negotiated and agreed to, met as a team during two ARD meetings to finalize everything, and are now prepared for next year. Lastly, Sidney had her 10th birthday...yep, she has it her double digits!

The House The Lord blessed us abundantly by allowing us to sell our house in two and a half weeks. We bought the second house that we saw, just 8 miles away from our previous house. It was important for us to find a house that had a family-friendly layout, everything else we knew that could change over time. This house is definitely a fixer-upper with blue cabinets in the kitchen, wood laminate floors in the study and dining room, and a outdated fireplace, and an golden oak banister up the stairs. It will take us years, maybe decades, to update it. However, it is located on a court street, has a pool and hot tub, and a flat driveway for our new basketball goal.

A quick story...When I drove up to the house for the first time to view it, I noticed that a 'deaf child area' sign just a few houses down. No way that you can tell me that this wasn't a sign from God. Unfortunately, the family with the deaf child moved a couple of years ago. Super bummed that our little man wouldn't have another deaf child on the street. Alas, there are plenty of normal hearing peers on the street. Can't wait for some cooler weather so we can get out front and make some new friends. Some pics from our first few weeks in the house...

Thomas, the prince of the pool, on his new float

Sidney, our bathing beauty

Sean and the kids in our new tent...even though it is located in the playroom and not outside :-)

Thomas and is wonderful swim teacher, Ms. Kathryn

The School Year Sidney ended fourth grade and will be heading to intermediate school next year. I found myself wondering how this happened. How could she already be out of elementary school? She was just born yesterday, right? Thomas ended his mainstream preschool year two weeks earlier than Sidney. We were so blessed this year with two AMAZING teachers at First Baptist. Thomas learned so much from them and made some very dear friends. Unfortunately, he won't be going back next year because of what I learned during his IEP meeting...

IEP Meeting During our IEP meeting, I learned that Birdville ISD is providing an inclusion model for their auditory/oral class next year. This means that Thomas will have 17 other kids in his class with the majority of them being normal hearing peers. Can I get a woohoo! He will receive the same number of minutes of speech therapy AND 45 minutes a day of pull-out instruction from his amazing TOD. So, Sean and I decided to put him in this new program five days a week, rather than having him go between the auditory/oral school and his mainstream preschool. We think that this will be an excellent opportunity for him to make an easy transition to mainstream kindergarden year after next.

Another quick we began our IEP meeting, the Thomas' SLP, Ms. S, said how much she loves our little man and how much he LOVES to learn. His TOD, Ms. H, began her portion of the meeting saying that Thomas is the only 4-year old that she knows who knows all 50 states, their locations and several capitols. I can't take credit for teaching these to him. He learned them by playing the stack the states app on his iPad. He has also started to learn many countries and the continents. She also said that he was ready for kindergarden now. I'm still thankful that he has one more year of preK because I want him more advanced than his normal hearing classmates. Coming into next year, Thomas has 26, yes that's a 2 and a 6 together, IEP goals. They include academic, speech, language and theory of mind goals. The development of these goals was a collaboration between his SLP, TOD, our new communications consultant provided by Cook Children's and myself. It was an awesome process with everyone working together. Definitely another area of life where we saw the hand of God at work. It was so cool!

Coming Up This summer will give us lots of time for fun activities...a week at the beach in Florida with my mother and my sister's family, a long weekend in Arkansas to see my parents, grandmother and my brother's family. Two acting camps, Super Heroes and Cars 2, at Texas Creative Arts Academy for Thomas. A week of church camp and a make-up and costume camp for Sidney. A visit by the my sister and her family to Texas in August. And, loads more swimming. Finally, we will be preparing for discharge from Cook Children's AVT, Ms. Becky, because Thomas is testing at or above his hearing peers. I keep trying to tell Ms. Becky that I don't want to discuss discharge until September. However, she keeps preparing me to let go at every AVT session that we have. Speaking of which, we have a therapy session with her in an hour. So, I'm gonna scoot off the blog...I just promise that it won't be this long again between posts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Break

Sean and I took the kids to Galveston Island for several days to get away from all the stress of school, selling the house, just life in general. We had an AMAZING time!

The kids were packed and ready to go to "Galveston California Texas Beach" according to Thomas.

Our little man pretty much knows all his beach/pool language. So we struggled with what language to add coming up with words like: hot tub, seaweed, condo, balcony, and get this one...crustacean! We found a spot with tiny little shells one morning when we went shell hunting. Come to find out that the shells still had little creatures inside of them because when you touch them, these tiny tentacles (or something of the like) slipped back into the shells. This was such a cool AVT opportunity for us while having fun on the beach.

Something that he even started to pick up while we were gone is asking the question, "What does that mean?" Love the fact that he is truly learning to advocate for himself when he doesn't know a word or concept...AWESOME!

Here are some pictures from our trip...we cannot wait to return for more family fun!

View from the balcony.

God smiling down on us during sunrise one morning.

Hot tub fun!

Relaxing on the lazy river.

Shell hunting, jumping in the waves and the crustacean find.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Proud Polygon Parents

Thomas was selected as a Proud Panther at WA Porter Elementary, his oral preschool, because he shows the virtue of honesty. Here is what his AWESOME teacher wrote about our little man...

"Thomas Golden demonstrates the virtue of honestly each and every day. He is very reliable; and when he commits to something he always follows through. You can count on him to be truthful in all situations and does this by using his big voice and listening to others. Thomas is kind and caring and is always fair to those around him."

Thomas had a great time this morning receiving his award during the Proud Panther ceremony. He received his award from the school counselor and got his picture taken with "Honest Owl" and the other award recipients.

On another "P" word note, Thomas got home from his oral preschool on Wednesday and was proud to show me what a polygon is and what attributes make it such a shape. Here is a quick picture of what his teacher sent home so I could understand the lesson and ask Thomas more questions about the day. Really at four years old he knows what a polygon is? I had to look it up quickly on the Internet to make sure that I asked him appropriate questions. :-)

Proud Panther + Polygon = Proud Polygon Parents