Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Good Language-Foundation for Literacy
Language is a very important means of communication between people. Our entire development depends on language as it gives meaning to every action, thing, emotion and thought. There can be no development of the world if language did not exist.
Language is important as it is an important tool to communicate. It catches an incident, crystallizes it and then can recall, recollect and be related later. Otherwise without language the moment would just be passing moment. We even think in language.
Human mind is wired to acquiring language. The moment the baby is born, his vision is not clear but his entire focus is on the buzzing, booming and bustling world of sound. From birth to five years, the entire development plan of nature is such i.e. everything is developing, sensory motor, biological, psychological, emotional and intelligence and it is only focused on one aspect and that is development of language. Once it is done, the brain has done its most important function for the rest of the life. Because based on the language that we develop, all the cognitive development takes place on that foundation. All our academics are dependent on the development of language. Once you learn it , it is easy and one can learn math, physics, literature, etc.Though the mental, physical and cognitive make up is there to learn the language , we still need to learn it.For eg. If an Indian is adopted by a Chinese , he’ll learn Chinese as his atmosphere is that of language.To learn it otherwise , I would require a teacher.I don’t learn that language by just being born to that family.A brahmin’s son would learn the shlokas as his environment is constantly teaching him that as so is it for a musican’s child.A child learns language by the atmosphere he lives in.So our language environment has to be very rich in order to make sure the child has acquired the most important aspect of life.A child in a rich environment has more emotional , cognitive and language development than a child who lives alone in a languageless atmosphere.
There are certain essentials of language learning.It is the way we talk.Most of us talk so badly.We are so much in the rush of things , that we seldom stop and think of the way we are talking.How is it that some people are able to attract and get people’s attention for hours and there are some who we run away from as we don’t like to hear them.Our voices have to have the intonation, expression, inflexion and there has to be the right expression in the voice and on the face.It is this that will attract people to the most boring discussion too.The most exciting discussion can be a bore if the speaker is dull and expressionless.It is for this reason that the nursery and pre- school teachers need to have a pleasant personality so that they can attract little kids’ attention as their attention span is very small.A teacher who is able to modulate her voice, excite and use the correct expression and intonation will have children paying attention and doing very well in her subject.
It is important also to have our conversation using full sentences. These days people are rushing past and are not taking out time to talk.One should speak full and grammatically correct sentences and expect the same from the kids.Take time to stop and correct the child and help him to develop his language for him to have an all round development.Parents need to read books and inculcate good reading habits and clear conversations.Have discussions on varios topics.I have come across a few mothers who tell me that their 3 year old is not talking.I first ask them how many people are there in the family and then how much time are they spending with them.Some living abroad complain their children do not talk.As it is there are few members in the family and then they are busy cooking and doing household chores and the child is either left alone to play or left to play with the maid.What type of language environment is that?There is no language input.how will the child learn?Then there are people to keep the child busy they put on audio and video cassettes.But let me tell you there is no substitute for a live conversation!
The next question is “what do we talk to the child?” Well everything!!If we see from the child’s point of view, everything is new and exciting and fresh to him.Go down to his level.Be a part of his curious world.Change things around the house for him to notice,give answers to his whys and hows. Use a lot language to be part of his excitement and you too will dicover joy of reliving a new life fresh from his eyes.It will increase his awareness and it is curiosity that will make him more observant. The most important, effective and accepted means of developing language remains its use in real life communication situation. If you don’t dust your home one day , it is okay but spending that time with the child to show things around in your surroundings and talking about it would go a long way.Better still , take him around and do your daily chores and take your toddler around asking him to pull the bed sheet there and pushing the chair there and see him happily oblige you.He is happy, occupied,close to his mother, mother is doing her daily chores and the exchange of words helps him to build language.Language is learnt by listening, understanding and then applying it to other situations.When the child does not have language around him, how will he listen, what will he understand and where will he apply it?Parents are busy and send little toddlers to schools and pre-schools when it is essential to be with parents to learn lessons of communication.At home left to maids, when they do not speak, they expect teachers in school to develop their language.A teacher in school has to look after the needs of 30 odd students each with a different language.How can the teacher teach each child to talk?This is the duty of the parents to make sure that when the child goes to school , he has a foundation of enough language from where the teacher can take off and develop it further. Create an atmosphere which includes all kinds of speech which means not talking sweetly all the time. There has to be a difference between your tone and expression when you are angry, excited, sad, happy, questioning etc.
We as parents are responsible for the groundwork and should help the children to build a strong foundation of language for them to acquire greater heights and achieving their dreams.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I had the appointment this morning with the audiologist and I decided to cancel it and 1st talk and clear out the aspect of hearing loss due to cold with a friend ENT specialist.When i told the audiologist about my decision she said that I must show the bad audiograms and tell him that she was saying that Prisha had suffered more hearing loss due to cold.She even volunteered to talk.I told her that I was going to a friend ENT and that I did not want Prisha's setting to be changed so often as it takes Prisha too 2-3 days to really get used to those settings and that I would decide only after her total cure of cold and after advise from my ENT, she was a bit ...eh eh...I could get a message.
I broke down in front of my ENT specialist and he told me she was a bit commercial and erased the myth that a cold could affect sensori neural loss.He explained how due to the cold , the middle ear is wet and the constant sniffing retracts the eardrum.You treat the cold, and within a few days the middle ear dries up and the child gets her hearing back as the eardrum comes back to its position.I WAS SO RELIEVED!He also checked her ears and said there was so much wax in her ears and so b'coz of the cold and the wax the audiogram was bad.In fact before the audiogram her ears were checked.Did she not see the wax?Or was I in an ideal situation for her monetary benefit?
Now we are treating her cold, will get her ears cleaned, after 2 weeks get another audiogram from 2 places and then get her settings.God , how much stress a person in India has to go through as there are people who think for just themselves.We are educated and so we run around , do research and then take decisions.What about lakhs of those people who are not that aware, educated or not in a position to do so?Is there an end of the tunnel for people who are helpless and unfortunate or will they be the soft targets those who are supposed to be experts ?There is a vicious circle.As the numbers are too large, no awareness, few experts in high positions,no support from anywhere, these people make their money at the cost of someone else's misfortune.I wish I had the money to open a centre where people could get the right advice and correct direction and close these money making practices.I hope I am able to at least reach out to someone who may have gone through this.Ask questions, do research, do not accept any advise which you find suspicious.Educate yourself about the problem is the only way to wriggle out of the clutches of the wrong.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
The teacher was surprised to hear Prisha.She said that what surprised her was, Prisha never looked at the face while being showed something, she picked up 2 people's conversation and learnt from them and that even from behind when she was asked something she responded.But that is what AVT is all about.Learning through listening.Listening and then speaking.The focus is on listening alone.
She told us that the school was a residential one.All the more there is a problem.There is no input from normal sources except the teachers.Each teacher has 15 deaf students.How much can she focus and how much will she talk and what.In such cases individual attention is required at least in the form of family who would make them feel like normal people.At home listening to normal conversation and a variety of discussions would give adequate language opportunity to the child.
She mentioned a thing which is so typical and so education and academic oriented.She said we teach the children , give them answers to questions required for the curriculum, but after they were told to learn and answer them , they looked blank.To this I put forward my view that when the child does not have the basic language to understand concepts, how will he remember the answers?The knowledge is ABSTRACT for them!To learn a complicated thing we need to understand simple things 1st.They are not able to converse as they don't have the language, then how can they remember the answer as they cannot understand it.It is like this......I don't know french, then if I am told to remember a write up in french, how can I just rattle it off?Even if I memorize it I would not be able recall it and say as I don't have an understanding of the language.It just made sense to her.My heart goes out to those children who are not able to speak because of non availability of the right infrastructure , right teachers and correct speech therapy.I wish there was a revolution in India and people had a heart to help and not focus on their own monetary benefit.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
This experience has proven one thing that awareness is the key and some norms need to be put in place to the customers rights (read hearing impaired person) to get complete transparency of data from the audiologist like programmes, informtion etc. about each change. I only know how I have managed this herculean task of giving speech to my daughter. Thanks of course to God and Mrs. Hudlikar that we can differentiate between the good, average and the bad speech therapist, audiologist etc.
One final word of caution to parents of hearing impaired children - Educate yourself in all that has`to do with speech, audiograms, Bera tests, Auditory-Verbal therapy. Friends, it is a continuous process and you can never know enough. God Bless Mrs. Hudlikar.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
1.what is the day today?
2.what is the date today?
3.What is the weather like?
These help the child to develop the concept of time.It cannot be taught in a day.With regular feedback you will see the difference.Now prisha is able to tell me the day and what we have to do, like going for speech therapy on tuesday and thursday, saturday sunday are holidays,wednesday is the 3rd day of school etc.It is exciting to see her calculating how many days she has to go to school in the week.As for the weather it gives you the chance to forward and talk more about it like ....
it is a rainy day today, what happens when it is rainy day, there are puddles on the road, everything is wet, there are storms, etc.then go ahead explain what is a storm, puddles etc.
The difference between a "birthday" and "birth date" was highlighted.Birthday comes every year birth date is the date , month and year you were born.
Then we had found a beehive in one of our potted plants .we took it to the speech therapy class and talked about the bees and where they make hives and how,the birds make nests with twigs and grass,the difference between a twig and a branch.It was fun to hear the reactions of the kids to how honey is made and the different pictures that ma'am showed to the kids in relation to the subject.She made the kids speak sentences on the subject.It is so good that because I have followed ma'am blindly that Prisha was able to recollect and speak 4 full sentences that she was asked to speak.Now I saw the connection of the fact why ma'am stressed upon narration.It helps the child visulise the situation and give it out with the language she has.Prisha has started with talking 3 -4 word sentences to full sentence and at 4.5 yrs she was able to rattle off 4 sentences in correct order and grammar.It was very encouraging for us.We had done picture description with ma'am and she would ask us to predict what would happen in the picture next.It kept Prisha very active and most times she is able to do it.,Now everyday I have been asking her about what happened at school[ much to her annoyance] but it has helped her to be able to put correct sentences.I give the language where required.I don't ask my son when they fight, I ask her to tell me and then I get a chance to correct her.I will now say 4-5 sentences on any object. Basically description is very important.I will describe in 4-5 sentences to show her the method and then ask her to describe once she gets a hang of it.