It's the middle of the school year. If you're like me, you're feeling a bit chaotic. Your child may be young and not yet involved in regular activities, or like my Lexi, she may be involved in two sports at one time. Whether your child is a dancer, on the robotics team, a Mathlete or involved in team sports, managing the academics of a child wiht hearing loss AND all of these extracurricular activities can make studying and preparation seemingly impossible.
This week, we're going to break down several strategies and ideas to help your student succeed!
Monday - Assessing Your Child's Needs
Tuesday - Communication with Teachers and Staff
Wednesday - Classroom Needs
Thursday - Prepping for Instruction
Friday - Raising Leaders
Saturday - Teaching Them to Own It
ASSESSING YOUR CHILD'S NEEDS
Lexi is now 14 years old and an eight grader. Middle school is NOT for the weak and meek! I repeat...Middle School is NOT for the weak and meek! Between social situations, managing too many sports and highs and lows of chemical changes, adding academic stress to mental fatigue of CI or HA kids can make days grueling at times. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change it for the world, but some days are tougher than others.
Something that tremendously blessed us long before Lexi entered middle school was the year she was in third grade. We learned so much about her during this pivotal year of going from learning to read to reading to learn.
Her third grade teacher approached me that she felt Lexi possibly also had a processing disorder. I am not putting down the teacher for making a quite shocking statement to an already, at times, depleted mommy. I was also seeing some things that caused me to pause, however processing disorder was new to me.
My first and final authority for Lexi's language and hearing/speech development is starts and ends with her incredible speech pathologist and hearing loss in children expert, Dr. Emily Lund (Texas Christian University, Miller Speech & Hearing). Dr. Lund explained that Lexi likely does not have a processing disorder, rather that her difficulties are similar to what they're starting to see in her generation of cochlear implant children....Dr. Lund explained, "After testing, I'm likely to uncover this is simply complications of listening and learning with a cochlear implant."
We flew out to Fort Worth, Texas and underwent a series of tests to support her theory.
Dr. Lund administered many tests that day to get an understanding of her language, ability to read and write at her age level and see where gaps were. However, the single most important test given that day was a NON-VERBAL IQ test.
This test gave us an understanding of where Lexi's intelligence ranks OUTSIDE OF HER HEARING AND SPEECH DELAY.
Lexi didn't hear for nearly two years. She had zero access to language. Naturally, she'll never get that back. While its reported that she "is caught up", that simply means she's equal to the average child her age. But, I've always challenged Lexi to reach her potentials. Dr. Lund's testing revealed that Lexi's potentials are far greater than the mean average of her age.
I'm not bragging that Lexi is the next Albert Einstein, however, her intelligence testing revealed that she would likely be an all-A student had she never been "missed". Yes, her healthcare workers that missed her newborn hearing screening (skipped her that day), or the grad student who tested her at 10 weeks of age and when Lexi failed--she stated "she's fine, she's just fussy...come back in 6-9 months" which actually should have been 2-4 weeks. Or, the pediatrician who advised us to continue to wait when we went back for a referral at just over a year of age to get that follow up done. Thank God above I had had enough. My daughter needed something more and I needed someone who would help us figure that out.
So now you can see why Dr. Lund is one of our angels. She has and continues to give me a clear indication of where Lexi's benchmark is amongst other incredible insights.
The rest of Lexi's testing involved other "deep dives" into some gaps uncovered. Lexi has a difficult time with complex syntax and the use of negatives to name a few.
Back to the third grade teacher and "processing disorder" whom also referenced possible ADHD. She enlightened us that there was something happening in Lexi's life during this transformative year. And while her suggestions were not correct, her insights led us to better defining and naming Lexi's gaps and also putting a plan together to overcome them.
BUT WHAT ARE THOSE GAPS?
As Dr. Lund puts it "hearing with cochlear implants -- a surgically implanted device-- is not at all like putting on glasses."
1. When children begin the "reading to learn" transition in about third grade, remember, they're hearing and learning more complex content with complex vocabulary.
SOLUTION -- preteaching the vocabulary for that chapter/section prior to hearing it in class; this doesn't take long! Just go through a quick review of what each word means so the child isn't hearing it for the first time. Our kids are taught to think INTENTIONALLY about language. If they hear a word for the first time in class, they could stop and think about that word and miss the instruction/info that follow.
2. Why does my child's teacher suggest my child also has ADHD?
INSIGHT -- it could be, as in Lexi's case, more of an issue of MENTAL FATIGUE. Hearing with HAs or CIs is taxing on a child's brain. Think of how you feel when you attend a long lecture or conference. That is their every day life.
- hearing breaks
- taking tests in the morning
ASSESSING YOUR CHILD
If you want more information on how to assess your child, please email me at email@example.com. I would love to introduce you to Dr. Lund and possibly find a way to get a professional in your area to provide the same type of testing.