Monday, August 31, 2009

This really amazing thing that Ben's been doing

Ben can recite the alphabet (usually with several omissions -- he's had a down on N for awhile now). It's pretty cute -- he tries to sing it, but since he can't carry a tune yet, it just comes out as this very soft, whimsical little chant.

Now, I always feel self-conscious about bragging about Ben, and I always manage to overcome that and do it anyway, on the premise that heck, it's my blog, and the whole original purpose of this blog was to brag to the relatives, who can't get enough of that sort of thing. But now I'm really pushing it out there, and I apologize for being so crass. The thing is, reciting the alphabet in a little singsong chant isn't the amazing thing. He's actually been doing that for awhile.

The amazing thing is that he's gotten bored with it, and he's decided to take it up a notch. Specifically, he'll say the entire alphabet with each letter sound starting with, say, /b/. As in the following: "Bay Bee Bee Bee Bee Beff Bee, Baich By Bay Bay Bell Bem Ben Bow Bee, etc." And he goes all the way to the end, and finishes off with, "Bow by bow by Bay Bee Bees, bext bime bon't bou bing bith be."

Granted, he still tends to skip a letter or two, but otherwise he's able to keep very good track of which letter he's on. And he doesn't do it slowly, either -- it's full speed ahead. I can't do it that quickly. Also, keep in mind that I've made no attempt to reproduce his toddler articulation. For example, he certainly isn't saying either "next" or "bext" correctly yet. But he does say them the same way -- meaning that he's correctly substituting a /b/ for an /n/ and otherwise keeping the word the same.

Talk about phonological awareness. Must be all that Wonder Pets we let him watch.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lucas' Mommy has been busy

Check out all these great listening activities and materials that Lucas' Mommy has been putting together lately:

Ben's First Story

"I'm going to tell you a Leah and Alex story. Once upon a time, Leah and Alex walked to the cemetery. To look for animals."

And then he kind've ran out of steam, but still we were pretty impressed. This was at lunch today, and I had told him a story about Marvin the Cat (a character invented on the spot). Then Neil told him a follow-up story about Marvin. So Ben was in the groove, and decided to tell one of his own.

We often tell him Leah and Alex stories. Leah and Alex are two of the main characters in the Signing Time DVDs that Ben loves. Since we can't/won't watch Signing Time DVDs every minute of the day, then we started filling in some of the remaining minutes with made-up stories. Somehow, Alex always ends up incurring a small boo-boo requiring a band-aid -- it's the same principle (although not of the same magnitude) as Kenny's recurring demise in each South Park episode.

Ben has been engaging in fairly elaborate imaginative play lately. Almost every day he puts his Curious George doll down for a night-night nap. "He needs a pillow," Ben will announce, and go off and get a pillow. "He needs a blanket." "He probably needs a ba-ba [pacifier]." He has also been seriously into picnics for awhile now, and his various plastic and stuffed animals often join him for a picnic on the family room floor. Invariably, "spinach and naan" is served, this being Ben's favorite food.

He has added some more nursery rhymes to his repertoire. Here's his current favorite:

"The man in the moon came down too soon
And asked the way to Norwich.
He went by the south and burned his mouth
With supping cold plum porridge."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Great sites

Here's an interesting site I found through live*laugh*love*family:

And through that I found the following:

It's a website with products, information, and free downloads for working with special needs kids, aimed at professionals and parents. For instance, I just read through some free handouts on IEP meetings, phonological awareness (so that's what "Wonder Pets" is building!), developing reading skills in the birth to preschool years, etc.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Words of encouragement needed

Jennifer over at Crazy Mama of 3 is going through a tough time. Her mother has ovarian cancer and is facing a tough battle, and everyone is feeling very overwhelmed and scared. Jennifer is requesting e-mails of encouragement to read to her mother. If you have a moment, please visit and share your kind thoughts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another calendar idea

Tayten's Mom posted this about the calendar she uses with him. It's available from the Advanced Bionics website. She prints out icons and they attach them with velcro. One of the commenters on her post said that they use poster putty. I like the fact that this calendar has a large square for each day -- the squares on our calendar are pretty cramped.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wait Time and Literalism

Ben's doing great with language, but of course there was a time when it was not at all clear that this would be the outcome, and even now we're cautiously optimistic and vigilant. So when you have such concerns about your kid, it's hard not to test him continuously -- "Ben, can you say your ABCs?" "Ben, I hear something -- what is that?" We try to restrain ourselves, and to keep things light and not pressure him to "perform."

An upside to all this is that we're constantly challenging him. We're not afraid to ask him questions that we're pretty sure he can't answer yet, and we make it very clear that it's perfectly okay not to know the answer to something, or not know how to do something. This is an important lesson on its own. Think about how many of us, even as adults, are so ashamed of ignorance on some topic that we try to hide it, thereby missing opportunities to remedy it. Also, it's shocking how many times he does manage to answer the question, even when we weren't expecting it. A very important habit to develop is Wait Time. Ask a question, wait awhile, rephrase it if it looks like he didn't understand it, wait some more, keep the pressure and anxiety level low, keep waiting. Often a minute or more will pass before Ben coughs up an answer, and we would miss that if we butted in too soon. If it becomes clear that he's just not there yet, we'll help him put an answer together, or model one for him.

We had a TOD (Teacher of the Deaf) coming to our house every week for about a year. Her intentions were good, but she wasn't able to do much with Ben, mainly because she just didn't get the Wait Time idea. If he didn't answer within two seconds, she would answer for him, and this just frustrated him to the point that he would cry or tune out.

One final observation: Ben is becoming a real literalist! Either that or he's seized on a great loophole for getting out of having to perform for us. Me: "Ben, can you say, 'Michelle, can I have the puzzle please?'" Ben: "Yes." Technically true, but not what I was looking for.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Ben's been saying lately

  • Neil: "What kind of gym will you play on at the playground?" Ben thinks, then says, "Jungle!" Ben pauses, and then comments, "I wonder why they call it a jungle gym."
  • Ben, in the bath (with no hearing equipment), looking up at Neil's ears: "Daddy doesn't wear earrings. He has just ears."
  • Several times, when we've discussed his Madison relatives, Ben has referred to someone named Amy. We have no idea who this is. Tonight, during the "I love you" ritual before I take off his hearing equipment, I added, "You're so special!" Ben: "Special Cousin Anna! Special Cousin Megan! Special Uncle David!" [The Madison folk will understand the references.] Then, of course, "Amy!" Pause, and Ben adds, "I never met Amy." I'm again wondering who the heck Amy is. Then it dawns on me, "Oh, Pascal's Mommy is Aimee!" No response. A few minutes later, after the equipment is off, he says, "Pascal's Mommy is Aimee, but this is a different Amy." So we're still in the dark. Any suggestions from the Madison contingent?
  • While on a walk to the cemetery: "That's not our driveway. It's someone's driveway, but it's not our driveway."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thinking of Jess

Jess's husband Jeremy has been wounded in Afghanistan. He is in Germany for surgery. My thoughts are with Jess, Connor, and Jeremy right now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cochlear Cats

I just came across this picture on Kate's blog, and she also had a link to the relevant study. Too cool!

Temporal Paradoxes

So how come July just went flying by, but the hour and a half I spent getting a root canal this morning moved like a constipated glacier?!?

Anyhoo, here's Ben's July:

He had his first dentist appointment on the 2nd. He didn't like it much. But he loved the dentist's name, and he repeated it throughout the day with joyful exaggeration (Dr. Boooooooo-eeeeeee!). The 8th is graced with a very disturbing image of what appears to be Mickey Mouse after taking psychopathic drugs and painting himself blue. This was supposed to be one of the Blue Meanies from the Beatles' movie "Yellow Submarine", of which Ben is a zealous fan. My artistic powers were similarly impaired on the 27th, when my attempt to depict Ben in a swimsuit failed on virtually every measure; I meant to go back and tidy that drawing up a bit, but never got around to it. As you can see, a fair amount of swimming seems to have taken place. Actually, it was a very rainy and cool month, so we seized every opportunity we got and it always made it onto the calendar. On the 30th, his daycare provider set up the slip-and-slide in the yard -- and he got to go swimming again when he got home! Starting on the 12th, we made a trip east -- first to Sturbridge, MA, for a cochlear implant convention, and then to NYC for his one-year follow-up appointments with his CI surgeon and the audiologist at NYU. In NYC we stayed with Neil's parents and brother; we didn't take the calendar, but I added a few icons after we got back. On the 15th we went to the Bronx Zoo, with mixed results. It turned out that it was a discount day, so all the daycampers were bussed in from all over the greater NYC area, making for massive crowds, long lines, a lot of noise, and very few opportunities to see non-human animals. We did get a great view of some camels as they were led across the path in front of us from one enclosure to another. You'll notice as per the 23rd that Ben has developed an interest in Home Depot (perhaps not unrelated to his love of Bob the Builder). There were many trips to Home Depot that week, since Neil's brother was visiting and putting in a new hardwood floor in the attic (lovely work, Uncle Fred!).