Tuesday, October 11, 2011

And we are back!

I kind of abandoned this blog when we put Short Stuff into the state deaf school here. But now that we are into the 2011-2012 school year we are back into homeschooling and I felt a renewed desire to work on this blog again. So for starters I would like to fill in where we left off.

So we put her in deaf school and she was there for her 5th and 6th grade years. Although there were many good things about the situation there were equally as many bad things. I'm not going to get into all that but just needed to say that we decided to bring her home again. I missed being a part of "her world". So we are now living and breathing "Shelby-ville" everyday.

But doing that, I have discovered how poorly I sign after two years of not much practice. And I have discovered how little she really understands. She is a great actor! I watch her communicate with her friends on her VP (video phone) and when asked what they were talking about (I know because I was watching) she can't really give me an answer. She acts like she understands and keeps the conversation moving, but really misses a lot!

So thus began my determination to make sure she really understands what is going on. And of course she gets angry all the time at my questions. I now follow her to youth group at church and interpret for her. She is accepting it now and actually thankful I am there. And of course I am realizing I really need to brush up on my sign language, because she is suffering at my hand . . . literally. :)

Now in the back of my mind, I have been waiting patiently for the day that she would be able to pick up a book and read and learn. And after years of pushing reading and her diligent practice, she has a larger vocabulary, but still no comprehension. So reading is still not a way she is able to learn thru. I have never treated my daughter like she was handicapped. If she wanted to do something, we found a way for her to do it. She wanted to walk and run, so we watched as she did just that at a normal age. She wanted to draw and write, so we gave her pencils and she was able to hold a pencil correctly and write her name at the age of 2. She loved animals, so we introduced her to horses and bought her a special saddle to fit her little legs. She was riding at the age of 4 and moved on to participate in church rodeos, 4-H horse shows, and Isaiah's Place Equestrian Drill team. She loves music and has an amazing natural beat. She plays the piano beautifully and is now learning the violin. She loves books and we make plenty available to her. She loves to write and has copied large portions of the Bible for many years. She loves to be in the kitchen and can cook a wonderful meal for our family from scratch, from memory. She is diligently trying to learn to read cookbooks. Her love of animals brought her to show a pygmy goat this year at county fair and she has learned how to milk the big goats this year too. She is an amazing kid!

All that to say, that I've always expected her to do great things. And in that list of great things is read! We just celebrated her 13th brithday and she still just can't get above a 2nd grade level. Now like most deaf, there are underlying health issues. And this varies wide across the spectrum of health issues. Short Stuff is missing her myelin sheath (or her white matter) and the docs are quite sure how that will affect her learning. But we are discovering that it really slows down her ability to process information. Action learning she is great at, bookwork - not so much. So how has this child learned to read thus far? Basically she repeats a work over and over again until it passes into her gray matter and sticks. She is the most diligent worker I have ever met! So vocabulary she is getting, how a sentence goes together is a whole other matter!

Ok, moving on to where all this has brought me. I was listening to a CD yesterday about being a daughter of dignity. And the whole time that I am listening to it, I'm thinking, "Wow, I wish Short Stuff could listen to this!" So that gets me to thinking. We have some really good Bible stories in ASL, we even have the Bible in ASL, and there are sermons online in ASL. But where is the stuff in the middle? For teenagers?

Now my signing really stinks. But I am really wanting to get some of these great CD's translated for Short Stuff. And I figured while I am at it, why not make them available to other teens? I'm not sure how I am going to go about doing this. I know I need to get permission from the people who presented the CD's first. I also will need help with videorecording, interpreting, glossing, spreading the word, etc. So if this is something that interests you or if you know more than I do, please let me know.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Revisiting Reading

I kind of abandoned this blog when my daughter started attending the public deaf school. And I feel guilty. Just because she attends deaf school doesn't mean that our journey of educating our child ends.

So over Christmas break I have been working with Shelby with reading. She still struggles a great deal with reading. Although she has improved since starting her public school career, it hasn't been a huge improvement. One big improvement has been her confidence. Which is nice to see. So in desperation, I cried out for help . . . and received many great ideas.

My favorite idea was a storytelling idea. So starting today, Shelby is going to type out the birth story of my 5th child. In her own words and in her own order. Then I will help her sign the concepts and then turn the written work into English. This process will take a few days for each project, but it should be a fun journey!

We also started doing a word-of-the-day. Each day I put a new word up on the fridge. The kids use the word throughout the day and it helps familiarize them with the correct spelling.

For Christmas one of my kids got Banana-grams game. We got out a child's dictionary and let them lose with the game. It was great fun and they all learned new words. Shelby knows how to use the dictionary so this was also good dictionary practice. And of course, the same could be done with Scrabble.

Another wonderful idea, is using the VRS for communication with others fluent in ASL. To master English, she will have to be fluent in her own language first. This tool will allow her access to many native speakers. And as we are looking to homeschool her again, this will be a valuable resource.

And as a simple activity, I have her read me at least one book each day.

I would love to hear success stories and ideas!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Resources for the Family

I just realized I have never posted a blog about all the many resources available to the family with a deaf child! Other than Isaiah's Place being the best place to be, here are some other great resources:

My first recommendation is going to be American Society for Deaf Children. Your first year is free, you just need to ask! They also host a wonderful family conference (aka vacation) every other year. This is a wonderful resource to have.

Hands and Voices will be my second pick. They have state chapters which you can locate on their website. They are an awesome resource for current laws per state and advocating for your child.

Many states offer a telephone assistance program. DARS offers such a program in Texas. We used it and my daughter received a free cell phone for text messaging.

Texas has a great network of deaf events called Deaf Network. It really is the best way to stay informed of what is going on around Texas.

Texas School for the Deaf has an incredible Outreach office. The outreach office offers services to students that do not attend TSD. They also offer a lending library for free! Tell Lisa Crawford that I sent ya!

Deaf Missions and Silent Blessings are awesome Christian resources. They offer fun videos, books, Bibles and more! They also do a family camp every year.

Harris Communications offers tons of resources.

That should get you started! Have fun digging around.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Versatile Daughter

This year has brought us to a new place in the road on educating our deaf child. After lots of prayer we decided to enroll our daughter into deaf school. We have not abandoned homeschooling! Actually this process, although fearful for me, revealed our teaching ability as Shelby was tested to determine her grade level.

I told the teacher at what level I guessed she was at so that she would know where to start with the testing. And guess what? I was right on! So that proved that I knew where she was at, so I was an active teacher, but it was also a little embarrassing because she was several grade levels behind. I knew this. We had struggled with reading for years! I just couldn't seem to make progress and felt it was because of our lack of ASL skills. I wasn't able to present the info in her language well. There was just a wall I couldn't break!

So we enrolled her in school to get this exposure to ASL, to develop positive deaf role models (which she really never had a problem with this), to meet friends like her, to get speech therapy since she wants to communicate with the hearing world so badly, and to get specialized teaching for reading. Reading is her key to success!

She has been in school for a month now. Over the past month her teacher, the speech therapist, the art teacher, the audiologist, the itinerant teacher from the local district, and the ASL teacher all observed her. And I got to meet with them this week for the verdict. I was a little nervous, but also excited to hear how she was doing.

And you know what! Her teacher is having the same problem with her as I was! I also learned that they didn't feel the need to work with her on ASL as she has better ASL skills than most kids her age! She talks in ASL and has trouble turning that into English, obviously. There was concern over her cochlear implant as it has issues. We are still waiting on parts, but there wasn't anything I could do about it. Her teacher said that her ASL is fine, its her processing that is not quite right.

So all these years of struggling, came to find out that I had been dong a great job! Shelby has a loss of myelin sheath in her brain that the docs never could tell me how it would affect her. I spoke to neruodevelopmental specialist this summer and she explained to me how Shelby's brain is functioning. Her brain tires easily because it takes her so much longer to process information. This tiny bit of information helped us understand her a little bit more. Her teachers strongly feel this processing issue is a result of the myelin sheath.

She has an issue with time. She doesn't understand tenses. Doesn't grasp next year. She lives in the present (as Diane can testify to that!) And as one of the teachers mentioned, if after 8+ years, she can't remember that snack is always at 3:00pm, then there is something going on there. So they are working on a plan that will give her the concept of time so that she can function as an adult.

So anyway, we were sitting in this meeting and the teacher asked me what her skills and likes were so that she would be able to use that in class. I started listing things like cooking, sewing, knitting, using power tools, horseback riding, etc. Boy were they impressed! They started joking about the transition classes they have available in high school. These classes are designed to teach these kids this stuff so that they can transition into real life. Most of them live in the dorms and rarely see a kitchen. Shelby could probably teach some of these classes!

Needless to say they were very impressed with Shelby. But I learned that I wasn't doing a bad job. I don't regret putting her in school, but our goals have changed a little. So now she is in school to get more exposure to ASL, to develop more positive deaf role models, to meet friends like her, to get speech therapy since she wants to communicate with the hearing world so badly, and to get specialized teaching for reading, focusing on her processing issues. Reading is her key to success!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I love giveaways. And I wanted to share with you a really cool one!!

Go to Homeschool Notebooking and check out their boys and girls school planners. Who doesn't need a little help with keeping control on their school work?!?!

While you are there check out all the other cool products they offer for the notebooking mama!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Daily Conversations

I've been reading Literacy and your Deaf Child and have been brought to the table. This week I was reading a chapter about how we communicate with our deaf children vs. our hearing children. We do treat them differently, and we always will, but we need to be careful we don't expect little of them. I caught myself doing this to Short Stuff.

We have done well to let her communicate with her friends and family with a cell phone (texting) and letting her order her meals at restaurants. But I do catch myself condensing what is being said when I interpret for her or do most of her communicating for her with adults. She is almost 11 years old and I need to expect her to do what a 11-year-old can do! And help her achieve those goals.

So with that being said, here are some things I am going to try to do this year:
  • Journaling - This can be done conversationally or as a diary. Parents can write back and forth with their child. Or have the child write in the journal once a day about something that happened.
  • I am using Reading Milestones for her reading practice again this year. Its a lot of worksheets, but she likes that kind of stuff. :)
  • Be patient with her while she tries to read the menu at a restaurant and let her order.
  • Create a word book for all the new words she learns.
  • Short Stuff loves horses, so we are going to use that this year to learn reading and writing. I found a great book called Junior Master Horseman. It is full of ideas for writing, math, and more.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Straight from IP!

I am happy to say that I am posting straight from IP! How exciting for us! We just love being here.

We have come up to spend the week doing a Vacation Bible School. Although my passion is to educate the deaf children, the most important part of that education is Jesus!!! So I am happy to spend the week doing just that.

I came across some new material that I would like to share with you. It's called Picture This! I have not been able to use it with my kids, but it looks like a lot of fun. Check it out. At the end of the year your child will have his/her own Bible notebook with visual reminders for each story in the Bible! Wonderful tool for the visual learner (aka our deaf kids!).

I also have been wanting to share with you about our trip to the ASDC conference at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf. It was awesome!! I met many neat people, including Rachel Coleman from Signing Time and the 2007/2008 Miss Deaf Texas. I listened to many great speakers and hope to highlight those one at a time in the near future. Stay tuned!