The Apple Watch is a Great Hearing Loss Tool!

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Barb Cole received a cochlear implant just a couple years ago. She shared her experience with our readers, and promised to stay in touch. Recently, she reached out to tell me that she discovered a new and relatively inexpensive (well, when it comes to hearing loss technology) tool that has been really helpful: her Apple Watch!

Barb says her hearing loss consists of mostly high frequency sounds, which includes hearing birds chirping and the sound “s”. “I am able to hear some low frequency sounds. I have a Cochlear Hybrid Implant — processor type N6 — in my right year and a Resound Hearing Aid in my left.”

Barb currently owns the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular). It works in conjunction with her iPhone 6 and she uses iOS 11.

“The Apple Watch has become an important device that increases and improves my ability to function independently,” she says. “It helps me feel secure and safe in different environments.”

Here are some ways Barb has used her Apple Watch to help with her hearing loss:

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Vonbruno Hearing Aid ($4.99) is an app that actually allows you to use the Apple Watch as a hearing aid! You simply plug in headphones and tap the “on” button. The app will amplify the sounds around you. It can amplify your voice in a microphone setting, and will increase the volume of something you might be listening to.

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ReSound Smart App is another Apple Watch app that allows hearing aid users to fine-tune the sound captured by their devices. For example, when speaking with someone, they can use the app to block out all unimportant sounds.

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The Apple Watch can be used to call for assistance. If you long-press the side button, you can start a call with emergency services. The Apple Watch knows what country you are in and will dial the right number. Once the call has been made, the watch will send a message to your emergency contacts with a map of your location.

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The Apple Watch also serves medical ID bracelet. I find this particularly compelling given the fact that people with Cochlear implants cannot have an MRI (because of the magnets implanted in their heads). God forbid if something were to happen to Sonya I am thinking a medical ID bracelet informing emergency services of her implants is an extremely important accessory (and I imagine kids with CIs would much rather sport an Apple Watch than an old fashioned metal ID bracelet…)

Barb also mentioned the following apps, which can be downloaded to the iPhone (not Apple Watch):

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Ava – 24/7 Accessible Life (Free) is built by a team of deaf and hearing people, Ava uses voice recognition technologies to show a real time, color-coded transcript of the discussion by leveraging the power of your friends’ smartphones, and learns to get better over time. Ava uses your microphone to hear and show you word for word what is said.

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EarMachine  (Free) makes it easy to listen to the sounds you want to hear. EarMachine has a simple interface that allows you to adjust the sounds coming into your phone’s microphone (or ear buds, although that’s not possible if you have CIs, obviously).  Barb mentioned that she is considering buying big headphones (like these), which might work if you are wearing processors as well.

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Barb says that the Apple Watch’s Message Center, Activity Center and Reminders (which helps with memory loss) have made her Apple Watch an invaluable assistive listening device and she holds it as important as her MiniMic 2+ and her Phone Clip.

Thank you so much Barb, for sharing this! Sonya may be too young for an Apple Watch this year, but I imagine parents of older kids with CIs and hearing aids will find this very useful!! (Also, I kinda just want one anyways so this is a great opportunity to justify buying one! 🙂

A Q&A with Renowned Speech Therapist Liz Ying

Liz-Ying-SLP-NYC-Deaf-Therapist-225x300.jpgFor those who have hearing loss, Elizabeth “Liz” Ying is pretty much a celebrity. She is widely recognized as being at the top of her field. For 40 years, she has been a pioneer in auditory-based oral speech and language therapy for adults and children with cochlear implants. According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, where she currently serves as Co-Director of the Shelly and Steven Einhorn Auditory and Communication Centers, Liz has transformed the lives of thousands of families, including ours.

It goes without saying that we jumped at the opportunity to work with her. Sonya started working with Liz at just five months, and we continue to see her today. Liz graciously agreed to participate in the below Q&A, which I hope parents and speech therapists who follow this blog will find helpful!

If you have a baby with hearing loss, what are the critical factors for long term success?
Given that I am an advocate for listening and spoken language, my feeling is you should (1) pursue the best audiological services to ensure your child has access to every drop of residual hearing possible and that they are getting the right amplification. (2) Commit to ongoing speech therapy intervention with a family-centered program. I can be the most experienced therapist in the world, but if the parents don’t convey the same strategies and practices at home, their child is not likely to progress. (3) Embed the child’s listening and language needs within everyday life. Working hand-in-hand with speech therapists and taking these strategies with you in your child’s daily life are the keys to success.

What should parents look for when hiring a speech therapist for their child?
You want to find someone who has theoretical training for techniques in listening and spoken language and who recognizes the developmental trajectory of language development.

Also, a good clinician will love kids! They will have a comprehensive approach and understand that a child is a child first. Speech therapy with children is play with a purpose. A good clinician will let the child play, but will also ensure that play is productive.

Lastly, a good speech therapist will be flexible. You can go into a session with a set lesson plan, but if the kid wants to do something totally different, you need to be flexible enough to switch it up but still accomplish your goals. Someone who is rigid is not going to be a great fit for working with children.

How is speech therapy for someone who got cochlear implants later in life different from a child who was implanted as a baby? 
On one hand, it’s easier for adults. An adult has a language system already developed. It can also be more difficult. An adult will remember what sound used to be compared to what it is with a cochlear implant. Adults tell me the sound with the cochlear implant is tinny and that they can’t hear with it. Just like with a child, we must work to teach them how to listen with the new device.

And how do you do that? 
Let’s say you have a person who works in an office setting. This person has managed their life through texts and email. They avoided conversational aspects in their profession. In this situation, you identify the immediate need – which is learning to listen for vocabulary in an office-setting. That’s where you start. Soon, the client will start seeing success within this aspect of their life.

At the Center for Hearing and Communication, we offer a “short term” therapy for such clients of 12 weeks, followed by an assessment. At the end of the 12 weeks, we discuss whether this has been beneficial and whether they want to continue therapy.

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For people considering being a speech therapist for children with hearing loss, what advice would you give? 
I would encourage them to understand that for children, especially babies, born with hearing loss – anything is possible. Unlike other limitations, hearing loss is an access issue. Once you provide the right technology and get the family on board to reinforce listening and language outside of the clinician’s office, kids can bridge the gap much earlier than ever before.

Sadly, a typical student in speech language pathology will get little exposure to kids with hearing loss. Most of the time, when I introduce this part of the profession to students I am met with great enthusiasm and surprise that they hadn’t encountered this area in their studies beforehand. And it is a very exciting field! You get every parameter you were trained to look at – i.e. the voice, articulation, language issues, and you can make a very significant difference in the outcome of many children.

Any other words of wisdom for parents and speech therapists who are reading this? 
No matter how you look at it, a person with hearing loss may not receive a 1:1 signal. They may not get a message in it’s entirety. I feel that literacy is a critical component to successful auditory-based speech therapy. As soon as your child is born, start reading. Once the child has some language and understanding, use books even more. And refrain from paraphrasing and making up stories. Use the vocabulary in the books because usually it is not vocabulary you would normally use.  My sessions are always organized around reading a story. I first have the child complete a task and the task leads us to a story.

“Literacy is a critical component to successful auditory-based speech therapy.” – Elizabeth Ying, Co-Director of the Shelly and Steven Einhorn Auditory and Communication Centers, Center for Hearing and Communication

Like today! You asked Sonya to repeat a sentence from a book, and she repeated it but also missed part of the sentence, right?
Yes! We need to teach Sonya – and other kids like her – to fill in those missing pieces. And the way to do that is to enhance her vocabulary through literacy. Once Sonya hears a word she knows, her brain will immediately pull up associated words. For example, if you say “dog” her brain will listen for associated words, like “leash” or “bone.” This is how the brain works to fill in missing information.

Reading expanded my world as a hearing person. I grew up in Jim Crow South. I didn’t have exposure to a lot of things. But I did through books! Once I learned to read, I could go anywhere. It’s the same for our kids with hearing loss.

Thank you, Liz for all you have done for Sonya and thank you for participating in this Q&A! I know other parents and clinicians will greatly appreciate your insight and experience!  

 

Taking a Listening Break

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As Sonya and I stroll down West End Avenue weekday mornings, we chat. I use the Roger Phonak Touchscreen Mic so that she hears me above the noise of the traffic and the constant construction. We play “I Spy,” we count the number of dogs being walked by dog walkers (we once counted 15!) and we sing. Last week, however, I realized that Sonya was not listening. At three, she now knows how to take off her coils so that she can tune me and the rest of the New York noise, out.

As soon as I realized it, I stopped the stroller, and angrily pointed to the spot two inches above her ear where her coils should be placed. Sonya simply looked at me with a serious expression and shook her head, “No mama! It’s too loud!” I tried to put them on myself (which was NOT the right approach) and in the end, we walked the rest of the way in silence.

Upon entering Sonya’s classroom, the coils were back on her head. Sonya was ready to play and learn.

Interestingly, the same thing happened on our walk home that day. Sonya relayed some highlights of her day and sang her a new song: “this land is my land, this land is your land, from the East Side to the West Side, children gather to play together, this land was made for you and me!” but once we reached 75th street, which also happens to be where ConEd is excavating the sidewalk with jackhammers, Sonya decided enough was enough. She needed a listening break. “Mama can I take off my CIs?” she asked me sweetly.

I mean, how can I argue with that?

According to Jane Madell, a pediatric audiologist and speech language pathologist and editor at Hearing Health & Technology Matters, children with hearing loss often come home more tired than their peers. According to Madell, research has demonstrated a link between listening in an environment with a lot of competing noise and stress. Overall, children with hearing loss must use more effort to detect, process and understand speech compared to their peers with normal hearing. No wonder Sonya can get so tired after traveling noisy New York streets and after her morning at school!

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Children with hearing loss need to take listening breaks after a long day. Also, moms of kids with hearing loss need a shot of scotch from time to time 🙂

Madell points out that teachers and families of children with hearing loss need to be educated as to the link between listening with hearing loss and fatigue so that they can offer listening breaks when needed. Using assistive technology (such as an FM system or microphone) will help, but weaving listening breaks throughout the day is also an important technique to help the child regroup and get ready to listen and learn again.

In addition to our walks to and from school, Sonya removes her CIs before her bath (as hard as we tried, she doesn’t like them on during this time). She also removes them for naps and at night time. There are other times of day when Sonya will remove her CIs because she is frustrated. This used to concern me, but I am now starting to realize that her removing her CIs indicates that she needs some time to rest so that she can reenter the world of hearing.

I am curious as to how many other kids with CIs need listening breaks throughout the day? How do other parents build such breaks into their routine (and how do they ensure that the “break” stays a break and doesn’t extend longer?) Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

 

What It’s Like to be 13 and Have Cochlear Implants

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As a parent of a toddler with profound hearing loss, I often think about what Sonya’s life will be like in ten or twenty years. I recently had the pleasure of connecting with 13-year-old Davis James, who wears a hearing aid and cochlear implant. She was very generous to share her story and experience with me and the world. As a parent of a young child who was also born deaf, her honest responses and wise (beyond her years) perspective brings me so much insight and hope.

Can you discuss your hearing loss? When did you lose your hearing and when did you get implanted?
I was born deaf and I was implanted with a cochlear implant in one ear just before my third birthday. My hearing loss was a big blessing. There are so many new things that cochlear implant users have access to, whereas the hearing world does not.

Really? Like what?
For example, I’m able to listen to music secretly in class and not get in trouble for it. Another hilarious moment was when me and my friends didn’t do our homework for our language arts class. We had to be sent out in the hallway to finish it up and while we did, the teacher forgot to mute the FM unit and I could hear her go through the answers with the rest of the class. Of course, I shared the answers with my friends (although I did confess to the teacher afterward. Honesty is important!)

Another moment (a gross one) was when my teacher went to the bathroom with the FM unit…you definitely don’t wanna learn more about that!!

Haha! That’s so funny and gross!! Do you think you hear differently from your family or friends?
I have no idea how I hear differently. I do listen to music differently. I use a Phonak ComPilot and connect it to my phone with Bluetooth so I can listen to music wirelessly. My friends get so jealous (in a funny way) when I explain it. I was very happy that when I explained it to people, they really listened and understand how it works, really because we’re living in the age of technology.
Davis James

What challenges have you faced socially because of the implants (if any)?
I started school in a deaf/hard of hearing school. There I made lots of friends who were just like me. My best friend and I played soccer together (my dad was the coach).

When I was in second grade I transferred to a hearing school. At the mainstream school, I had to learn how to be friends with hearing people, and they had to learn what it’s like to be deaf and what I needed. Not being able to hear without the cochlear implants was equally epic and sometimes saddening (inability to understand, etc.) Socially I have faced problems as a result. A lot of times, I can’t comprehend what other people say in daily conversations. It tires me to have to turn up my hearing aid’s volume because whenever I turn it up, everything is louder. Restaurants and crowded places are the worst places to socialize. I can barely hear what other people say in conversations.

For real, I absolutely despise it when I can’t understand people unless they look at me (it’s easier when I can read their lips and listen at the same time). The bigger part of that was when I have to remind them. It is tiring! When people say things like “never mind” I feel ashamed for not being able to understand.

There are other challenging aspects, but the thing is, everyone has challenges. We learn to get through it despite our disabilities.

Do people treat you differently because of your CI and hearing aid?
I haven’t noticed so. It took me a long time to learn how to advocate for myself, though. I finally learned the day my hearing aid stopped working with the other Phonak products (like the FM system) and I had difficulty learning. I knew advocating for myself was the right path and as I progressed, I became a better advocate for myself and others.

How do you advocate for yourself?
I position myself in the classroom to optimize my hearing. I speak up when I don’t follow the discussion.

Do you do sign?
Before I was implanted I knew some sign and I learned a bit as I got older. Since the second grade, I haven’t done much signing as I have learned to communicate with hearing people.

“There are other challenging aspects, but the thing is, everyone has challenges. We learn to get through it despite our disabilities.” – Davis James, 13 

What is your favorite activity outside of school?
I played soccer for eight years, but quit when I started sixth grade because I wanted to focus on other interests. Right now, my favorite thing to do outside of school is definitely to play video games like Overwatch or Fortnite Battle Royale.

What’s your favorite subject?
Science and art.

Can you describe how you care for your CIs and hearing aid?
I care for my CIs as if they were an extension of myself. It’s pretty hilarious, I sometimes forget I am deaf because my CI is almost unnoticeable to myself. It was easy to get into the habit of taking it off, plugging in the batteries when I go to bed and taking them off for the shower. I also see an audiologist annually. I graduated from speech therapy in fourth grade since I was progressing very well.

Thank you, Davis so very much for sharing your story!! You inspire me and you are such a wonderful role model for our children!!  

P.s. if you are interested in how a CI sounds to someone who lost their hearing later in life, check out our prior post: How Does a Cochlear Implant Sound vs Normal Hearing? Barb Cole Shares Her Perspective

Cute Hairstyles for Cochlear Implants

When Sonya was born, my mother-in-law jokingly told me that we should shave her hair at some point to ensure it grew back thick. It’s a Russian tradition, apparently. We didn’t follow her advice, but at three, Sonya’s hair is curly and a bit wild (just like her).

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As you can probably imagine, I struggle to tame her locks every morning and given time constraints we usually go one of two routes: A top knot or pig tails:

I am especially fond of the pig tails because they enable me to do her hair while she wears at least one processor. Top of head placement (and wrapping the hair around into a little bun) seems to work best as her hair doesn’t interfere with the placement of her coils about two inches above her ears.

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We succumb to bribing Sonya with her favorite TV show Creative Galaxy, so that she allows me to comb through her tangled curls in a somewhat timely manner.

I would love to try new hairstyles for Sonya, however. Here are some ideas I love, which I think could work with her cochlear implants.

a) BANGS. I would love her to sport bangs, but her hair might not be straight or thick enough. Plus, I recently did this to myself only for her to ask me “Mom, why did you do that to your hair!?”

b) BOB. Again, not sure Sonya’s hair would lend itself to this style, but a baby with a bob is just so sweet.

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c) BANGS IN ELASTIC + PIG TAILS. This is so cute and easy looking, and I think would work!

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d) BANDED PIGTAILS.

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e) FRENCH BRAID. There is no way Sonya would have the patience to sit through this (and I am probably not skilled enough) but I do love it.

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f) CROWN BRAID. Again, probably not enough hair and questionable whether the implant coils would work. But maybe I could motivate her to sit still enough to try by bribing her with Moana…..

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In other news, I have recently discovered HeadbandsforSophia on Etsy, which sells adorable headbands that are narrower and elastic and might lend themselves to additional hairstyles. I just ordered these to try.

Would love to hear your input! Vote on your favorite style and I will try it on Sonya and post the result! Do you have another option I should consider? Please leave it in the comments section below!

P.s. We also love Rubybands and wear them constantly and I wrote about hats and other accessories here and here.

UPDATE:

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Sonya opted for two french braid pigtails with barettes and to my surprise she actually let me do this! Sometimes I need to give her a little more credit.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin-Spice Speech Therapy!

Is your family obsessed with Halloween? I have always loved dressing up and the spirit around this holiday, but having a toddler during Halloween elevates the fun and cuteness to a new level! Yes, I bought Sonya’s Halloween costume in July (it was on sale then!) and as soon as Oct. 1 came, the apartment was decorated with spider webs, pumpkins and ghosts.

Recently, Sonya’s speech therapists have started incorporating the holiday into their sessions, and I thought you might enjoy learning about some of the wonderfully creative ideas they have had! This week, we made pumpkin cloud dough and it was just the cutest:

Pumpkin Cloud Dough

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Not only was it a great sensory activity, it incorporated new vocabulary and story sequencing as well. I have included Sonya’s speech therapist Jen’s recipe for pumpkin cloud dough, followed with some of the speech-related activities around it!

Pumpkin Cloud Recipe:
1 cup hair conditioner
2 cups corn starch
red and yellow food coloring
a dash of cinnamon

Simply pour the hair conditioner and corn starch in a glass bowl and use your hands to mix. Add a few drops of red and yellow food coloring and a few shakes of cinnamon and voila!: pumpkin cloud dough! Jen smartly divided up her colorless/scentless dough into small plastic bags for each child, and then let Sonya handle coloring and scenting the dough before we played with it. If your child is hesitant to get their hands dirty, they can also just mix the dough in the plastic bag.

Once the dough was complete, Jen asked Sonya to walk us through how we made it, step by step. She used an iPad with pictures of each step in the recipe process. This was definitely a challenging game for a three year old.

What Fall-inspired speech therapy activities do your kids love? I’ll definitely share more as I come across them 🙂

 

 

 

8 Great iPad Apps for Kids with Hearing Loss

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When Sonya was just a few months old, her speech therapist pulled out an iPad during one of our sessions and opened the game “Peekaboo Barn” I was immediately concerned. I had always been told that screen time was bad for kids. It seemed almost like a cop-out and it wasn’t until after the session when I brought up these concerns that I began to understand the benefit that this amazing device can have for kids with hearing loss.

Today, Sonya’s iPad has become one of our most important speech therapy tools. At the same time, we must use it responsibly. Our philosophy is that it is okay in small doses and in specific contexts. Sonya can use her iPad in the car or airplane, and at restaurants. We try to focus on active entertainment (i.e. games) as opposed to passive entertainment (TV shows or movies). It’s also a great way to motivate Sonya to put her CIs back on, as I wrote about here.

Here are some of our favorite games for hearing loss. I’d love to hear your recommendations, too…

Continue reading “8 Great iPad Apps for Kids with Hearing Loss”

Love in the Time of the Roger Phonak Touchscreen Mic

When Sonya was approved for Early Intervention, we immediately put in a request for an FM system. She was only eight months or so at the time, but we knew having a device would be useful. We were approved to receive a Phonak Roger. Here I am wearing it while visiting Sonya at school last year.  Continue reading “Love in the Time of the Roger Phonak Touchscreen Mic”

Camping with Cochlear Implants

Sonya is attending CampedUp, a unique camp where kids with hearing loss can socialize, gain self advocacy skills and have an awesome time!

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Sonya (bottom right) is with her buddies and counselor Brandi Prell at CampedUp,  a summer camp located in Manhattan for Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid users.

“Thanks, but we don’t do playdates with other deaf kids.”

These very painful words believe it or not came from a mother who, like me, was raising a baby with profound hearing loss. She explained that she didn’t want her child to be held back by other children who couldn’t hear.

Thankfully, we also had Ketty Baalla in our lives. Ketty has been Sonya’s Early Intervention Service Coordinator for almost three years. More than that, she has been a friend who has personal experience raising a child with hearing loss. This past fall, I asked her about summer activities she would recommend for Sonya. Her response?: CampedUp, a day camp for children with hearing loss.

“But shouldn’t we focus on programs with hearing children?” I asked. My fear that this mom was right had made its way in.

Ketty and I spoke on the topic for an hour. Her experience with CampedUp was not limited to her work as a service coordinator for kids with hearing loss. Her own daughter had attended the camp and it had been life changing for them both. “After CampedUp, my daughter had great interest in her devices,” Ketty told me. “At audiologist appointments, it was my daughter – not me – who asked the majority of the questions. She gained a confidence and interest in her devices she didn’t have before. She had taken ownership of her hearing loss!”

I signed Sonya up that afternoon.

For two weeks, Sonya has attended the camp. I can’t say enough positive things about it. Created and operated by Hearing Loss Specialists, CampedUp provides a unique community in which children like Sonya can socialize with other hearing aid and cochlear implant users of different ages, gain self advocacy skills and above all have a wonderful time.

“We recognized the need for kids to have an opportunity to form relationships with other children with hearing loss, outside of a therapy setting,” says Dana Selznick, co-Founder of CampedUp and a Hearing Education Specialist. “We wanted to create an environment where campers can play, create and build a community among their peers starting at a young age. Brittany Prell [CampedUp’s other Co-Founder and Hearing Education Specialist] and I grew up going to camp and our experience helped shape who we are today. We wanted our camp to have the same impact on their lives as it did ours.”

So far, Sonya has enjoyed projects such as marble painting, creating a color changing chameleon, meeting a “real life” princess and a super hero, decorating paper fans with bubble art and making homemade bouncy balls. The highlight was a reptile show!

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Note that the reptile guy is wearing an FM around his neck which is synced to all the kids’ devices. “All the kids love seeing that they are not the only one wearing an FM,” Dana says.
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Can’t believe this is my kid. Brave girl!

While Sonya attends half days, the camp goes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Kids enjoy a morning snack and an afternoon “fun with foods” activity (yesterday they churned butter!). A hot meal is provided during lunchtime. Each afternoon kids play water games on the roof of Stephen Wise synagogue and this week (among other activities) will meet children’s book author (and speech pathologist) Fara Augustover, author of Harmony Hears a Hoot, a story about Harmony an owl who has hearing loss.

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Sonya, a turtle, and her counselor/Co-Founder of Camped Up Dana Selznick

“As a hearing education service provider during the year, I typically see these campers in a mainstream school setting. It’s great to connect with the campers outside of an academic environment and to see them build friendships with other kids wearing cochlear implants and hearing aids. I love to see that ‘aha’ moment, when they realize that there are other people just like them.” – Brandi Prell, CampedUp counselor.

One of the most valuable lessons CampedUp teaches to its campers is self-advocacy. These skills are interwoven into the activities campers do all day long. “We foster conversations among our older kids about their hearing loss and talk about how they describe their hearing loss to their hearing friends,” explains Dana. “Campers share what they like about their listening devices as well as challenges that they may have experienced, so that the campers can help each other problem solve solutions.”

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For CampedUp’s younger kids: “We read stories about characters who, like them, have hearing loss. We also encourage campers to include their listening devices in their art work. Throughout the entire camp day, campers are encouraged to identify when they need a word repeated. We help them figure out how to find the best seats for their listening needs. Campers also learn to take care of their equipment during sprinkler time when we are taking off and switching devices,” she says.

As I put Sonya to bed the other night, she asked me, “Mom, do we have camp tomorrow?”

“Yes,” I responded.

“Okay, good.” she smiled sweetly, “I love to go there.”

Pretty sure I made the right decision here 🙂

For more information on CampedUp, visit http://www.campedup.com or email info@campedup.com

 

Sonya Sings All the Time

In the mornings, as I push Sonya down West End Avenue in her stroller, Sonya sings. Loudly.  Sometimes she takes requests. Most of the time she sings to her own soundtrack, on repeat. It’s pretty cute. Strangers often smile as we pass. I love to sing too, so I sometimes try to accompany, to which she immediately protests. “Stop Mom! It’s my turn! Okay?”

During our walks, Sonya sings the ABCs, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Frère Jacque (en Français – pas mal!), Songs of her own invention and her favorite new song “The Orange Room class song.” The Orange Room is Sonya’s room at nursery school. She attends a mainstream two’s program at the Nursery School at Habonim.

 

The Orange Room is the place to be
We learn to count. One, two, three
Music, yoga, science too
Our school colors are orange and blue!
The Orange Room is the place to be
We’re as happy as happy can be!

I can’t help but feel this is pretty amazing progress considering Sonya was born deaf and has worn bilateral cochlear implants since she was eight months old.

According to AudiologyOnline, singing has positive effects in cognitive, linguistic, memory and music perception for kids with hearing loss. At the Center for Hearing and Communication, where Sonya receives her speech therapy services, we were encouraged to incorporate music into Sonya’s life from her earliest days with hearing aids. They even secured free classes with Music Together, which Sonya loved.

While Sonya often sings to express joy, she also turns to music when she is angry.  Her current ‘go-to’ angry song is one she wrote herself. It goes:

I don’t like
I don’t like
I don’t like
Mommy Missy!

As I often discuss on this blog, when we learned Sonya would need cochlear implants we were initially very concerned about what this would mean in terms of her appreciation of music. Now, Sonya hasn’t yet demonstrated tone or pitch accuracy. She often starts a song in one key and ends up in a different key. According to AudiologyOnline, most kids develop this skill by kindergarten, though these are skills that might be more difficult for someone using cochlear implants. Cochlear implants were developed to access speech. Music is more complex. But, clearly, there is much we don’t understand about electronic hearing. Despite the obstacles, Sonya loves to sing. She loves to dance. And for the time being, she seems to enjoy it as well as her friends who hear acoustically.

Sing it Sonya!