Thursday, August 20, 2009

Teamwork between speech therapist and mother

I uploaded a video on whether it is essential to have a mother sitting in with the therapist while a speech therapy session is going on.This was in answer to a query by my mother. Personally I think being with my speech therapist every inch of the way has made Prisha more exposed to language as I keep on talking to her the way Mrs.Alaka Hudlikar has trained us to do.I am able to do a lot of talking which other mothers of normal children are not able to. The training I have received has made me expressive, gave me clearer speech [I used to talk too fast],mentally more alert, clearer mind and thoughts and above all a more interesting orator.I don't have to think what I have to talk to my child. I always have something interesting to talk to my daughter as the smallest little thing I see I make it exciting with my words, intonation and thoughts.I think every child should be sitting with the mother during the speech therapy session so that the mother can carry home the training and this teamwork works 24x7 for the child giving him more opportunities and exposure to language and above all the bond that is developed between the mother and child is beyond any explanation.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Meeting another hearing impaired inspiration

Yesterday, I went to meet Mrs. Hudlikar who had a visitor. The girl was coming down with a box of sweets as she had just passed out as Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology.She was also a deaf child who came to her and is oral deaf.She is Suroshree.
Suroshree came to ma'am when she was a little toddler.Her mother was a very depressed mother when she discovered her beautiful girl was deaf and had no hopes of of ever getting any happiness in life.She did not know how to live a life with a child who was deaf and feared the tough life ahead of her. She came to ma'am and her biggest fear was -the change of her name Suroshree. Her sentiments were attached to the name as the name was the combination of the parents and son's name.Ma'am assured her that nothing in her life will change, and her beautiful girl would be leading a very normal life if the mother cooperated.Then began years of speech therapy, typical Mrs. Hudlikar style- tough, strict and wanting only results. The girl is now 21\22 years old and just graduated as a B.E. in Information Technology from a normal college and without any handicap category. I was so thrilled to see how hard work had paid off. The parents were proud and so was Alaka ma'am.I too had misty eyes as I could see Prisha's future too shaping up positively in a field of her choice. I too would stand there proudly holding my daughter's degree one day.
It must have not been easy, as engineering is a difficult line.To understand the course, follow instructions, listen in class, do the practicals etc needs a lot of language base without which studies are not possible.It was possible to do it through spoken language.I listened to her speak but was a bit not happy as her speech was a bit unclear. Ma'am came down heavily on her as the speech had deteriorated over the years. It was because she was so engrossed in her studies that the spoken word was being ignored. SHE STOPPED LISTENING TO HER OWN VOICE. When we talk , there are always 2 listeners. One is the person we talk to, and the other being myself.She was listening to others and responding to them quickly without listening to her own voice. When we say something wrong, we correct our self, she stopped doing that.The therapy lessons were left long back as the parents were happy that she had started to talk very well.Over the years, the parents too become complacent and corrections took a back seat.She would now be coming to ma'am for the finish in her speech again.A few tips here and there would set her towards a better speech. This path of learning spoken language is not easy and the learning does not ever get over, but results are amazing as today the girl is independent, does not need an interpreter, did not have to sacrifice her dream of becoming an engineer and did not have to settle for a course which would be like a compromise. I can't imagine a girl like her today would have been settling for something like candle making, toy making due to lack of spoken language because this is what most of the mute children end up doing in India.Not that they are any lesser as jobs, but the point is about having aspirations and being able to fulfil them.
I was amazed at ma'am as she corrected Suroshree's speech even though she need not have. But this what is so different about her. She will not settle for less and I am fortunate to have found her in my life. Yesterday I realised that my work with Prisha too would not get over so fast. But does not a mother of a normal child do the same?i need to make sure I do not ever get relaxed as she is getting good speech, I need to be attentive and let her not slip as the pressures of studies mount over the years over her.The spoken language will always be a priority for us even as she goes towards fulfilling her dreams.Meeting Suroshree was an eye opener in more than one ways.I realised the things I need to do and not do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Social interaction for a deaf child

It is very important that a deaf child gets accepted by the community.For that it is important that the child interacts with the society around him.In the past there have been kids, now grown ups, who have come to our speech therapist and said they missed out a lot of social conversation around them as they had been very used to reacting to people only when they where spoken too.Other times they were not keen on taking part in the conversation as they could not understand what was being discussed.For this she recommends that it is very important that the child is made to listen to other people's conversation.It really helps. She always asks mothers' to make the child listen to the various conversations around him eg, between father and grand father, mother and aunts, mother and shop keeper etc, and later on ask the child what he understood of the conversation or report to a third person about it.It makes them start to get interested and soon involve themselves in various conversation.Is not exciting to listen to the gossip between friends?Why should a deaf child be left out.? I often ask this to Prisha and it is fun to hear about things happening in school.
Another is having conversation between deaf kids.To get them to start it, she took out photographs of various things and asked to see them carefully and them talk to each other about it. It was actually a totally new thing for the kids.They were used to picture description told to the teacher.Here talking to each other was quite awkward initially.Then they started to open up after a little coaxing and pushing by us mothers. Soon prisha and Ritick were opening up and telling each other what they saw in the photos.It was a good ice breaker between them and also it increased their observation and added new words.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Try this

Hey Leah and Julia, I am on homeopathy for even swine flu.Three of us were quite down with bad throat and body ache running nose.Gelsemium 200 helped us out.My mother in law is also feeling less pain in her body. We were coming down with a comman flu. Try this.It acts like a body strengthner and immunity builder.Check it out.I am doing alot of home remedies to build up our resistance.check out this link.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Swine flu

The city of Pune has been hit by swine flu and we are stuck in the house.All schools have been closed and we are taking precautions.Prisha too keeps asking me about why I look so sad.I am tired of one thing after the other.Had to cancel my speech therapy lessons as we have children from at least 30 different schools coming in and Mrs. Hudlikar had to close the classes.It is horribly scary as we are looking at everybody with suspicion. Prisha's immunity is low , so I am keeping her on vitamins and protecting her from cold.My son came down with sneezing this morning and paranoia had the better of me.I gave him all home remedies and homeopathy and all kinds of steams.He is better.God, what age do we live in, that we can't even breathe in peace.Prisha listens to my you tube videos, does some craft work and does not like to go out as she does not like to wear a mask.I wonder how long this will go on.I hope some vaccine is out soon so that we can all breathe easy.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Conversation with Bansari

Uploaded a video of Bansari who came for therapy 40 years back and see how well she has got integrated.Her english may not be perfect but she is like any other normal person relying on english for communication.Mrs. Hudlikar still does not stop correcting her!!This is the passion that has changed lives of deaf kids in Pune,India.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

You tube uploads

Just uploaded 3 more videos on my you tube account.Making a small effort to spread what I have learnt and benefited from.The videos are about how early intervention gives the chance to the deaf child to get used to hearing aids, adapt to listening and rules out the possibility of ever relying on visual aids for speech and language, start responding to sounds, and start verbalizing leading to good speech and language with the help of good speech therapy which focuses on listening .It avoids the trauma the child and family may go through as the child is integrated into normal life sooner.Here there are tips on how Mrs. Hudlikar uses her skills to get the child used to hearing aids by training the mothers and giving them ways and means to get the child want to wear hearing aids.Thanks to those tips, all her children learn early to enjoy listening and that is the biggest secret to her kids learning to use spoken language.She empowers her mothers to do the needful making them into good speech therapist.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Choice of the child and parents

A child is born with deafness never realises the importance of hearing as he has never heard anything and when you don't know about a thing you don't feel the need for it. He learns to make adjustments by turning visual.If he is given a choice when he is small [ for which he is too small] he is perfectly okay with people around him doing things for him the way he wants.Given a choice then, he would not really take the pains to talk as it is an effort for him. His mouth muscles are lazy and if not asked to speak early in his life he would prefer to sign. But when he grows up and sees there are people who are deaf like him but are oral, would he not feel the pinch? In our class , there is a couple where a student is trained by the mother and he is married to a sign language user. The deaf parents have come to the class as they both want their child not to use ASL but speak and lead a normal life.The child is too small to decide what is good for him.A child steals, abuses or is in habits, do we as parents show him the way to the right or as he is happy with his life or we let him be. Parents are there in a child's life to take him through this life of right and wrong to a path that is correct. If later in life his language is not developed for the reasons given in the previous post , the child at a right time should be given a language which suits him. But efforts have to be made to make sure a child detected early should be given AVT training to avoid complications in his life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A chat with a teacher/mother of the deaf

Today I decided to finally make that call to the mother of 2 deaf girls who are in their late 30's.The mother had gone through a lot as she was not fortunate to get the help that is available now.She educated herself in the field and somehow managed to get her girls married and they are communicating in half developed language but mainly use signs as the language is too limited.I asked her opinions on this and she too said sign is now recognised as the language of the deaf only if they are not able to develop language for reasons like late detection, inadequate hearing aids, not good speech therapy and above it parent's {read mother's} hard work.She said that people who have had early intervention and have undergone AVT like me and mothers have put in untiring hours of work with the child to develop speech and language and made sure the child is leading a normal life , does not need to learn signs. I put in a point to it- if i am more fluent in my mother tongue and not in English, the moment I meet a person who has the same issue , we would shift to our mother tongue.So like that, a child who is deaf and is brought up in AVT, and also learns signs, given a choice , he would shift to signs where he comes across a deaf signing child. But if he does not know signs and is only oral, he would react the same way to deaf signing person as a normal person would to the deaf person.If speech is not developed even after a lot of efforts, due to what ever reasons, sign language is the best way of communicating.My mind was clear about it but I felt it is always better to know about it from people who are into the field and are exposed to both kinds of methods.The lady has been a very dedicated person in this field and follows a middle path. If detected early, hearing aids put, she advises them to auditory verbal , but if detected late or language is not able to be developed, advises signs.These are people , who you know are leading us onto a right track.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I saw a dream

Leah and Julia, I am so happy to hear that there are parents who are following AVT all over the world and are leading a fully normal successful lives and you agree that AVT is the way of life for all of us.Sign language does isolate an individual like you said.It is like knowing, for example, Japanese and then visiting Spain and not knowing how to communicate. But by knowing a language known world wide, more accepted known even by a small time village person too, you can make yourself understood.I have visited Paris,and I felt the need to know french {had to make do with a bit learnt in my catering college}, in Germany I need to know German, in Bali needed to know their local language etc. But through a spoken English language mastered over the years liberates you. I am confident to be able communicate anywhere in the world, and this I needed to pass on to my daughter and the other mothers who follow AVT do the same.We have a 40 year old lady Bansari, who has been trained by my mentor since she was 3 years old.She is so independent and has travelled to Dubai, communicated over the years through English and does not need sign language. I asked her about her experiences, as being the Mom of a deaf child myself I am curious to know how this therapy has worked over the years specially when there is EARLY INTERVENTION.She said she met a deaf signing person and she could not understand what she was trying to convey through signs.Being deaf herself, not trained in signs but only in AVT, she asked the interpreter to interpret the sign language into english for her!! That was a defining moment for me.40 years back with hearing aids as good as boxes, she has been trained in AVT and leads a normal life like me.Priya Kshirsagar , trained under ma'am too runs a bakery business and communicates through English language, speaks on the phone, talks to her clients for orders and billing etc, listens to music does not need signs as she has only known oral communication as a mode of communication and is leading a normal life like me. These and many more successful stories of Mrs. Alaka Hudlikar include engineers, a dietian who are a couple in their 40s.If they can benefit through this mode of communication, then I have no reason to doubt, as I have better hearing aids, better audiological tecniques and access across the world to know what is new and how good or bad AVT is. I have yet to meet a mother who has a deaf child and does not want her child to talk.It is a mother's instinct which leads her to the right path. There is a mother of 3 year old Rashi, whose mother is in touch with me through phones. She has her aids since 4 months now but through AVt she is doing so well. I was surprised to hear her talk. She spoke so well on the phone.Signs are good when the child has been diagnosed late or the parents too are deaf and are signing.Also signs also are different in different languages.So the purpose is not served.There are students of our therapist who ahve married normal people and they fell in love with these hearing impaired people and I am sure they communicated in a comman language in a normal circumstances.The couple is not communicating in signs, the conversation is in a comman language.
As far as the deaf shift to signs the moment they are left in our class talk !Also don't the normal kids sign when they don't want to be heard?As far as meeting other deaf children out side, how many deaf people do we come across in our lives? In Prisha's school of 3000 kids, there are only 3 deaf kids. that is 3 in a 1000. The chances of them ever meeting is rare and even if they do, Prisha would react as other kids would. If the speech of that child is alright if they follow AVT, She too would talk to them, or she would ignore and walk away.It is how sincerely you take it up.Also if one has to follow sign language , why invest in hearing aids and cochlear implants?
Again these are my experiences as the mother of a hearing impaired child, it is my journey which has taught me and got me on the right track.I was not happy with the speech therapy I was getting when she just got aids. It was my instinct that told me what I was following was not right.The moment I came across this, 6 months into this style, I was sure i had found my path to success.I am sure these personal experiences are echoed by many more mothers who follow this system.
On a lighter note, I need to share something! I had been telling prisha about the concept of dreams since April this year.In May she told me about what she saw in her dream and since then I had been asking her if she saw another one.I needed to affirm this concept to Prisha which is very difficult teach to the child as it is so abstract.Yesterday she woke up so excited and yelled out "Mummy, I saw a dream!'. I stopped in my tracts and turned around an d looked at her. I asked her about it. She told me she saw clouds, and in the sky there was an aeroplane and a helicopter. On the road there was a bus which had flowers painted all over it. She was on that bus. We were so excited, and I took it forward. I asked her to draw it for me and colour it.She produced the whole concept on paper so beautifully. I was so thrilled!All, this was possible in language and she and I did just that though speech and language developed through AVT over 4 years which I think a normal child would also do.I believe in what I am doing and I believe I will succeed.Nothing can deter me from this path towards success.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Importance of a comman language

I was in Austria this summer and during this visit to Ikea, i got drawn by a couple who probably came down to buy something for their home. I was keen to know what was actually happening in that world as far as the deaf were concerned.I was conscious as i did not want to look at them and make them feel odd or make them feel conscious about their disability though I am sure they are used to being stared at. They were both signing away and looked totally unaware of what was happening around them.I asked my husband if we should go and "chat up ". He asked me how would you communicate and what will you say? I had no answer and with a heavy heart, moved ahead. I tried to find about what was happening around but as, like someone said they are a minority and people do not bother till it does not hit them.Looking at them and seeing them so oblivious of the world, I thanked God for sending Mrs. Alaka Hudlikar in my life and for the belief that I had in her that I would work and strive to make Prisha a part of the world by teaching her the language of the masses so that she is not cut off and is part of this bustling booming world of sounds.Today she talks in English and is picking up Hindi. She sings, dances, listens, reacts to sounds around her, talks to me in the dark,does not need an interpreter, talks to the people around her.This was possible as I saw examples in my speech therapy classes.Soon when Prisha is big and ready to conquer the world , she too would know 2 language like her parents and many more people like us and be ready to interact with other people like we do. I am sure the training we have got , she would pick up other languages if she decides to stay in some other parts of the world. Given a choice today and any day, i would not choose my life any other way.World over people have benefited through AVT.Then why as a mother of a hearing impaired child , I would not choose the one knows what is good for my child then me.Ask any mother any she would love to hear her child's endless chatter, non stop questions and I am no different.Had it not been for this , I too would have been deprived of her beautiful voice.I love the little songs that we make and little rhymes she picks from school.I have those moments when I break down thanking the Lord for giving me this happiness and would want it for every child and the parents to have it too.God bless every parent and their child and help them to make the right decision. Every parent has the right to know what is good or bad and decide what their next course of action would be.