Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Prisha needs a mentor

    After my move here, I came to know about mentoring at school. It is a volunteer, could be a parent or a student, who helps a child dealing with issues. The issues are varied, transition mentoring as the child is finding it tough moving into a new school and new country, many issues at school, social issues, mental issues which work against the child at school, etc.
     I was very fascinated as it gives the chance to the child to really integrate into the school and enjoy the learning experience. I volunteered and still wait for my turn to come. But I was very sure that it would benefit Prisha greatly. But the school didn't think so. So I have been slowly working my way up, volunteering at school such that I am noticed and people take me more seriously. It helped me boost my sometimes sagging confidence and also helped me understand the school better. Soon enough, made space by being closely with the class teacher, talk on deafness in class such that the class teacher understood what i mean. I was called by the child counselor to discuss issues with Prisha and I stressed her need o have a mentor. A mentor for her would be required for.....
1.Coming from different culture, a mentor would talk about issues which are different from ours.
2. What are the various activities they have at home, outside, vacations etc, could be talked to with Prisha as our activities vary.
3.The games the kids her age play,books they read, movies they watch, etc she could discuss with mentor, that would help her to understand the local kids better and it will help her to play their games and be more part of the group.
4.It would help her to get more exposure to accent different from ours, more exposure to English spoken differently.
5.Understand Prisha better and help me where I lack and need to add.
        The mentoring head was looking at a 10th grader but for me I think it made sense to have a mom who can handle her with more maturity. A mom would be able to understand her needs much better, where to push, where not to with Prisha. So I am excited as tomorrow I should hear from her about a possible mentor for her.We shall have a possible interaction and see how best we can fit a mentor and work as a team to help Prisha best. I would stand by to help the mom to give her best possible support.
         Other issues that we discussed were....
1. Prisha wasn't given hip-hop despite trying so hard. It would help her making friends from different groups and also boost her confidence and fun.
2. Individual education plan (IEP) was pulled out without our knowledge and it would have helped as they had specific goals ..long term n short term. So if possible, get that back.
3. Coordinate more with her class teacher, her teacher who comes to help 50 mins a day, learning support head, mentor, mentoring head and me so that we can set goals and help Prisha more effectively.
4.If possible know who is going to be her new teacher in the 3rd grade and fill her up on Prisha's needs so that there is no loss of time when we start the new year. By the time I start and they understand her needs , half the year has gone by. So the new teacher should have a meeting with us all so that she is more prepared and there is no lag and lack of understanding.
5. The school doesn't allow exchange of too much information about what is being taught in advance and there is no home work. As a result I know nothing as a mother what she is learning at school. Sometimes she doesn't understand what is being taught and then its like the gap that keeps becoming bigger as she hasn't understood the core. So if I am informed what is being taught at school, we could work on her from home and she goes with some base to build up her understanding on. The teacher could tell me where they had issues and I could work at home with her.It will bridge the gap and the teacher could have support and less frustrations of how to help her.

I think I was very happy with the meeting and its like new lease to us. I look forward to more support from school and more concrete structures of help for Prisha. The mentoring head was pleased to meet me and she realized how hard we have worked and are hands on parents. I am glad I volunteered so much and so it helps to get support, all worth it to help my little fighter !!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Listen and repeat......the need of the hour

Snoozing on the way to Berlin
            Two weeks of long Easter break just passed by so quickly. We had guests over and so a lot of Hindi movies , Indian food and lots of attention on Prisha. It was funny to see her chuckling and laughing at the slapstick movies and I wondered what made her laugh as she isn't familiar with the language. But yes she read stories , we had discussions and the 3 day trip to Berlin, about 6 hour drive from here.So we packed up and one thing I did was ask her to pack her own things this time and we made it a great language activity.
           We started with a count of the number of days we were away, so how many sets of clothes- what does one set consist of and one extra for emergency, shoes, night clothes, accessories, which suitcase, cosmetics, her hearing aid kit, hair dryer....name it and she was to do it. I must say we did a bit of Math, improve English, memory game, planning and above all my work was reduced. We had so much fun and she looked so proud at the end of it.
            One more thing we need to do with her is ask her to listen more with her mouth closed and then repeat after us. This is going to be helpful as she knows I would cross question her on it.Its really essential and in the long drive to Berlin with a bit of push , we saw  it made a huge difference in her speech. Also her HA is acting weird. She says it makes a weird sound, something like ....wao wao, and its not continuous. have to sort it out. We had got her puretone audiogram and its funny that her levels at high frequency show a deterioration of 10db and improvement in lower frequency by about 10 db. We are wondering and have not made any changes in her HA as the audiologist suggested. So hanging on.
           Berlin trip was also great and she did good with her walking, clicking pictures and looking at the building. we talked to her about the Parliament, the government and everything to do with it while we walked around the parliament building. Now we are back and its again school time ! She is happy and so are we.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Deafness and blindness

Hearing loss is a bigger loss than blindness. many would disagree. But it is a fact. When people go into coma, one is asked to keep talking to the patient, it is to keep him alive, grounded to life. The eyes may be closed, mind shut off but hearing is on and the brain is tuned to grab any sounds and specially voices.
To get a better picture of deafness over blindness, one exercise can be done, many would have done, it is from everyday life we all would have experienced in life. Mute the TV and keep looking at the movie or documentary or a song anything. What do you experience? After few minutes, you lose all interest in it after a while and maybe sleep off after a while. Now close your eyes and listen to any CD of your choice, what do you experience? Body starts to react to it, music or speech, your brain is full on into hearing and you are alive. So its the sounds and hearing that keeps us more alert and alive and focused and is very essential to lead life. One needs to develop language for living.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Social integration still tough

Prisha's 3D presentation on healthy eating...impressive work!!
      Just last month after the talk about deafness in class I thought that Prisha would make more friends and she would be happier, and now last evening she went up to my husband and her 1st sentence snapped something inside. She said " dad, I want to tell you something about school. When I play during recess and lunch break, the friends don't listen to me as they think I am boring".
      She sobbed and sobbed and the brave soul that she is, she cried out her woes , we just listened. It breaks my heart many times to see her dealing with so much at such a tender age. She is fun, happy child , very spirited and always ready for any activity. I wish the kids could be more tolerant with her. She still misses a lot of conversation in the playground and so misses instructions and eventually the play. We have pepped her up for now to just hang on and she would soon have friends.
      But it is tough to deal with it and really hope she finds her circle soon. Class wise her teacher told me she was really good when she talked about energy in her unit of inquiry. She has been guided at home on it and she went happily talking about it. So that pumped her confidence a lot. Just hope friendship issues get solved soon.