Getting Started Right Away
As soon as he was diagnosed, we started through early intervention, and we started right away. We were given a worker who had some signing skills. She would come out to the house once a week. I believe we started sign class the day after he was diagnosed. We got him into speech and language therapy right away. When he got his implant all those services continued until he transitioned into public school at three. He showed great language growth right away! He was just like a sponge with the sign, so I mean right away he could communicate his basic needs, what he wanted.
Adapting to His Hearing Loss
All of the therapists that we worked with merged his therapy with his hearing loss. They made sure they were in the right position so that he could see them or brought toys with lights to help engage him. And we did the same thing at home. We read with him at a very young age. We would sit him on our lap and I would hold his head up so he could see the book and read to him and we have so many pictures of this because his face would just light up. We’ve always really tried to help him by reading to him and stimulate him as much as we could so he could do as well as he could. Now every time we bring him to the therapists they tell us “Oh wow, he’s doing so well!”
Parent/Infant Toddler Program
At six months, he started at the Parent/Infant Toddler program. There was a woman there who would sign for him and would read him a story. The whole day while we were there he was in a sign language program. Everybody in the room signed, even the parents. You should see him now he’s so professional at signing!
I think I was really lucky to know that there are different levels of quality in Early Intervention, so I sought out one of the folks who had the best reputation and it was an amazing fit. He taught me a great deal about what I needed to do at home which ended up being very simple: reading, which was something we were going to do anyway, but it just reinforced that this was something that I could do. There seemed to be so many interventions that I wasn’t qualified to do but reading, this was something that I could do. I could read and I loved to read, so we read.
The Whole Child
We spent a year and a half in the Parent Infant Program and it benefited him. He had access to sign language and he had access to spoken language… we stuck with it and the teachers were fabulous with helping him as a whole child and that’s been our focus, what is he like as a whole and not just one piece or another.
Sign Language Immersion
We took him through early intervention, to a parent infant group where he was around deaf children, as well as deaf adults. We really immersed not only him but also ourselves into the Deaf community because we wanted to communicate with him. At that point we tried hearing aids and he wasn’t getting any benefit from them.
Speech and Language Help
He got early intervention up until the age of three. It was called speech and language help, but it was really laying the building blocks for early reading because it is so well known that people who are hard of hearing often have trouble reading. A lot of emphasis was placed from when he was three on knowing his letters and phonics. I have to give credit to the early intervention, but I also have to say that he’s just one of those kids. He had a strong drive and it just came naturally to him. I also know it would have been harder if he hadn’t had the help. There are certain sounds that sound so similar to him that there’s no reason why he would understand how to differentiate it except that he had very good therapists.
A Group Setting
He gets three times a week for a half an hour in a group setting. There are two to three other children. They do games and describe things working with one speech pathologist. She has been terrific. That is outside of school. I have to pick him up from his school ten minutes early and bring him to the public school. He takes the bus to school, goes throughout his day, and I pick him up at the end and take him there.