Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Triumvirate sets up shop for Aarav's next school year..

The Triumvirate being Aarav's school teachers, his Parents and last but not the least, the leader of our group, Aarav's Therapist...

We LOVE our Therapist !!  Yes. We simply love her!!
I may not write about her much, but our therapist, Shweta is an integral part of our lives now. We may not mind not meeting our families for weeks, but even a single therapy session missed makes us truly homesick...!!
She takes a lot of effort for Aarav. She even came to visit his daycare soon after he was implanted to help ease him into the daycare life again..
She makes us study and gives us homework to do as well, she records observations and keeps track of Aarav's development and much much more...
Now this may seem like part of her job, but you can tell when a person is just doing his job and when one really goes beyond his call of duty and does things for you...
She really does care !
She is the simply the best.

Last year, Shweta had come to visit Aarav's daycare after the implant was done.
Last week, 10 months post implant, she came to visit again!!!!

This time too, she carved out time from her schedule and waited and met with the daycare people and Aarav's teachers.
She spoke to the teacher and took notes.

Here's what we learned..

1 - Seating arrangement in a classroom for a child with Cochlear Implant

The teachers said that Aarav is one of the most proactive kid in school, but if he sits in any of the back benches he then gets so bored that he takes a nap in the middle of teaching time!!
So the teacher now placed him in the first bench, right in the front. He was much more attentive after that.

Shweta's input :
Aarav's seating arrangement has to be such that his CI ear gets maximum exposure to what the teacher is saying..

Placing the CI kid in the correct place in a classroom is very important to his learning.

 Either the CI kid should be seated in a Horseshoe seating position or in the front row if seated in a classroom row wise method.
As Aarav's right ear has been implanted, he should be sitting with his right ear towards the teacher when in Horseshoe.
Or placed at the left side of the teacher, such that his right ear faces the wall, and left ear to the next kid near him.

Now I was a little baffled by the second seating method, I was expecting Aarav to be seated with his right ear towards the teacher.
But Shweta's explanation helped resolve this.

If Aarav has a talkative child near his right ear, closer than the teacher, then the teacher's voice gets masked and Aarav will then pay more attention to the child next to him and not the teacher. Whereas if his ear faces the wall, then by the way sound travels, the talkative child will speak in his left ear, and his right wear will still be able to pick up the teachers voice as it bounces of the wall next to him. In this way the teacher's voice will not get masked under anyone's voice!!


2 - Benefits for the child with Cochlear implants of being involved with speaking peers

Aarav's teachers observed that when Aarav sits next to any quiet kid, he is quieter. But when placed in between two talkative ones, Aarav is equally babbly. He does like to interact a lot.

Shweta's input :
Again proper seating arrangement and interactive learning with the involvement of the talkative child.
Basically what should be done is let the talkative child and Aarav speak by turns, so that Aarav gets new words from the kid and understands that he has to speak.

Even we are supposed to implement this now as a dialog method. So we have to take turns and speak with Aarav now.

3 - Restricting Visual games and encouraging listening

Aarav does not like repeating anything, said his teachers. He is much too fast for repetition and he gets bored really fast.
And if he knows the routine, like a nursery rhyme, he will just wrap up the actions and move one even if others are yet to do it..

But when the teachers introduce anything new, Aarav loves it and is one of the first ones to try it out..

Our observations and solution :
His speed cannot and should not be remedied, we just have to channel and put it to good use :D
As his visual prowess will always remain better, we have to make sure that he does not have many visual distractions.
Only then will he learn to employ his hearing skills better.

I faced the same problem at home as well.. By the time we have done 2-3 ling sounds Aarav used to get bored of the activity and move on to the next.
So now I have packed off all his toys and give him only one toy at a time and once he is done playing with it for the day, it is packed away again.
This way seems to be working now. We consistently did our lings by playing basket ball and then beads and so on.

Shweta's suggestion for making Aarav pay attention:

Shweta asked the teachers and us as well to repeat instructions for Aarav again after calling out to him specifically.
As Aarav now responds to his name well this will help grab his attention and inform him that he is being spoken to.

When any instruction is given to all, for example, "Come on kids, lets bring a chair", the teacher is supposed to repeat, "Come on Aarav, lets bring a chair!"
When this is done, Aarav will understand the command better.

We tried this at home as well. when we call out his name, Aarav turn to see towards the caller and then listens for the next sentences and obeys faster..
This is much better that just generalizing action sentences for all.

4 - Other observations

a - Expressions and people skills of the tiny toddler

The teachers say that where he lacks in expressive language, he makes up for that in gestures or babbles or facial expressions!
While this may not be a plus point where verbalizing him is concerned, but that is definitely an asset to his personality.

b  - Leadership skills in Aarav

He is a leader. He even got graded A+ in leadership skills!!! He will not tolerate being dominated for sure.
And he is not the kind of person to use brute force, but will employ his charm and be all sweet and cunningly persuasive.
The teacher told us about one such incident..

One of his friends had his favorite car toy and he wanted it back as soon as the kid took it...
So instead of asking the other kid for the toy directly, he went and got another toy. And then told the kid that, 'the car is dirty, this toy is nice, here take it, throw the dirty car away' and then did a simple exchange.
He was happy and the other kid was happy!! A win win situation for all!

c  - Takes time to make friends..

He takes time to get acquainted with new people. He is not afraid, but just cautious. That seems to be a good thing too!

d  - Responds to his name in a crowd

In a crowd of 12 kids, Aarav responds to his name.

e - Responds to environmental sounds

When the class is in session and there is a loud environmental sound, Aarav responds to the sound and turns.

f - Aarav tries to repeat and mimic speech

Aarav repeats or tries to repeat saying the words that the teachers say.

Homework for parents..

After the school discussion and our latest therapies we have been given the following homework...

1 - Include vegetables and flowers in therapy study. Also make sure to implement 3 word memory for Aarav by using three word sentences.

2 - Babbled syllable songs.
We are still in between new syllables. He understands them but saying is still not happening. But if we force him to say them then he can!
For example, he still says AAee for Monkey, but if you make him repeat OOOMM , eem , aam , aem, ssm and so on, he can say them properly.
So now the task for us is to make him say these in sing song games and for every game he should say a syllable.
Repetition and practice is needed a lot..

3 - Add range to speech. If he knows a word, introduce a new synonym for the word.


On an ending note..
This month and school year end may be considered a breeze if compared to what is yet to come now...
Aarav has been speeding ahead of us and the effort that we are taking as parents does not seem to be enough now for his progress.
It is like we are pulling him back when he can do a lot more ...

The next year we now have to be actively involved in Aarav's study and schooling schedules and make sure that we prepare him for all that will be taught in the school.
This preparation is also to be able to mainstream him next year.

So for those you have seen how crazy our life has been this year... well??  
We may not even be seen in the coming years now that we have to put in an all-out effort to achieve our goals ...

The raw materials have now been delivered.
Time now to lay down the real foundations... 

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