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Friday, November 22, 2013

Fall 2013 Family Pictures

I have to say that the following pictures paint a perfect and beautiful picture of my family of 3. (A special thanks to Kent Fleming who is always so patient and does an amazing job!) The day we took these pictures, waking up from naptime was rough, but we got through it. After half an hour of asking him to smile and him responding in his "whiny ways" he finally came around.
We have a lot of rough moments with this age. It's not easy. And it's not because he's a child with special needs, it's because he's a child. He has good days and bad. Sometimes he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, and the next morning you could swear he's a totally different child.
Blair and I are still learning what works and what doesn't. We are having to step out of what we know and explore other options. And what works one day doesn't always work the next. He keeps us on our toes in more ways than one all waking hours of the day.
But I wouldn't change a single thing.
The gift of being a mother is something that is immeasurable. The up side is that the good times outweigh the bad. And when he is in a good mood, you don't just have a good time with him, you have a great time. He loves an audience, loves to entertain, and loves attention!
He loves to talk, he loves to dance (well jumping is his form of dancing) and he loves anyone who is willing to do all of that with him!
Mama has had to lay low lately on the dancing, but only because I am about to experience again the joy of becoming a mother to another baby boy. And it makes me smile from ear to ear. I can't wait for my heart to be twice as big with love from another angel being born into our family.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2.5 Year Speech Evaluation

Since Hunter has been attending AV therapy every 2 weeks for the past few months, it has taken a couple of months to issue and score his progress tests, but we finally got the results back last week and I wanted to share them.

Hunter was issued a general language test, an articulate language test, a receptive vocabulary test and an expressive language test.

For every language test, 100 is dead average. Anywhere between 85 and 115 is average. On the articulate language test (which is expressing oneself easily in clear and effective language), Hunter got a 93, which is in normal range. He got 28 errors which is perfectly normal for a 2.5 year old. And that's a normal hearing 2.5 year old, not a 2.5 year old born deaf.

His vocabulary test, the receptive vocabulary (vocabulary that he understands using pictures, and what he understands from what other people are saying). 100 is average and he got a 108, which is 8 standard points above average.

Then there is expressive vocabulary (show him a picture and say what is this). 100 is normal, he got 121, 21 standard points above normal, so he did exceptionally well on that.

Last test was overall language, it’s a little broader than just vocabulary. It’s his ability to put words together, grammar, sentence structure, just a more broad view of his whole language development. It involves auditory comprehension and his expression, what he’s able to produce himself. His understanding, expression and total all fell above the average line. He got 111, 11 standard points higher than normal so all of his scores are looking very good.
Hunter's AV therapist tells us that he seems to be right on track.

There are certain letters that he would say at the beginning of a word, like a w for an r, which is normal for a 2.5 year old. He says w for L. But those don’t development until much later. At the end of the word he would do a k for a g, which is normal as well. Nk for ng, sh for ch, and t for j at the end of the word is appropriate for his age.

Even though we got the great new that Hunter has "graduated" from AV therapy at this time, we agreed to have a couple more sessions in order to transition his therapy sessions to take home therapy ideas to keep up with Hunter at home.

Shelley (our original AV therapist) called in to talk about Hunter’s progress, and she said Hunter’s vocabulary scores are probably her highest ones yet. She acknowledges our support system and all of the people in Hunter’s life who are so involved in his progress. She complimented us getting on board right out of the gate, not hesitating about the implants and the therapy, and making it a part of our everyday lives. Almost every person in our family has joined in on these sessions and they know what kind of conversations to have with Hunter and the questions to ask him to constantly keep him moving forward. And even though Hunter’s sitter wasn’t 100% on board with strictly AV therapy, she has really come around and pushed Hunter further than any of us.

She did warn us that testing of a 3.5 year old varies greatly from a 2.5 year old. A 2.5 year old should understand around 500 words, and at 3.5 it more than doubles to around 1200+ words. She said not to get comfortable that he is all caught up and to keep reading to him and keep teaching him. She said a 2.5 year old and a 3.5 year old have totally different expectations.

They want us to know what to expect and to know what to look for when we are reading to Hunter every day so they will give us the tools to know what to expect. She doesn’t expect him to move down from the normal range, but if he does it may be because of how much they expect out of a 3.5 year old. She just keep stressing not to stop doing what we are doing.

One thing going for Hunter is that he has a fantastic memory. When we read him books, the following week he is reading bits and pieces from the book back to us. We can tell he isn’t actually reading the words because he's not even looking at the words, but he remembers bits and pieces from each page just from the repetitiveness of hearing the book for a week straight every night.

I always get nervous when people ask me where Hunter will be going to school and when he will start. #1, he’s my baby and I’m NOT ready for him to start school. Or even a preschool at that. A lot is riding on Baby Harrison and whether or not he is hearing. As most of you know, our 5 year plan includes building a house in New Iberia near my parents and Blair’s. But if Harrison needs implants like Hunter, we would like for him to stay at Nini’s for at least 2 years so that she can help us get him where he needs to be. She is irreplaceable and 100% worth staying in Youngsville for that period of time if need be. Being near family is super important to Blair and myself, and we know we will get there eventually, once we make sure our children are where they need to be. If we do stay in Youngsville for another few years, I would like to look into putting Hunter in a preschool starting possibly in the fall. But these are all factors that will be decided after Harrison is born. Again, he has a 25% chance of having Usher Syndrome like Hunter, and whether or not he passes his newborn hearing screening in the hospital will tell us, obviously, whether or not he is deaf, but will paint the bigger picture as well as to whether or not he will have Usher Syndrome.

Shelley also mentioned an amplification system that a lot of preschool teachers use when they have a hearing impaired child. It’s a very little amplifier that makes a world of difference to bring the teacher’s voice above everyone else’s in the classroom. It’s a little uneasy that we have to start thinking about this, but it’s a part of the Cochlear implant process and just comes with the territory. As amazing as this device is, it’s still a device. It’s not a natural form of hearing or anything close to that. It’s Hunter’s way of hearing, and a classroom setting is not something he has had to adapt to yet so it’s going to be a way for Hunter to have to really concentrate on the teacher to be able to hear what’s coming from her mouth with a lot of background noise going on at the same time. He has always been in a smaller setting (in-home sitter) with not a lot of children which was exactly what we wanted when he was learning to hear and speak. The next step, is learning how to hear in a crowded environment on an every day basis. He will have to learn to differentiate the teacher’s voice from other children’s voices, as would any hearing child, it just may take a little longer for Hunter to master this skill that seems second nature to his hearing peers.

I will be posting more soon, including recent family pictures :)

Sorry it has taken me so long to post an update, but as always, thank you for being a part of our journey!