Can You Hear Me Now?

I love this video of a young deaf woman speaking in her own words about how she feels about being deaf.

Like this family, we opted for both signing and speaking with Lei. It turned out to be a good choice, I think. Lei’s language skills are a good indication that getting language into her brain any way we could was the right strategy. And it’s interesting that the young woman in the video doesn’t view being deaf as a disability, but she would like people to remember that she is deaf and communicate with her appropriately.  Continue reading


Breakthrough on the left

At Lei’s audiology appointment on Tuesday, the audiologist gently asked how we were doing. She listened to Lei about how she has been feeling, and thoughtfully absorbed the suggestions for programming we had come up with in our meeting with the d/hh team at school.

Finally it was time to take the plunge. I handed over the left processor and the audiologist connected it to her computer on one end and to Lei’s head on the other.  Continue reading

Bilateral failure

Back of Lei's head showing two CI headpieces.

Today Lei and I went to the implant center for integrity testing, and although there was a lot to it – some crying, some coffee, a large cookie, a whole bunch of equipment and numerous attempts to reprogram – I’ll just say that it did not go well. Lei will need surgery to replace her implants.  Continue reading

Autistic-like, a.k.a. an odd duck

Yesterday the family went out to dinner to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I got a hearty salad and a half-pound of crab legs. I adore them, even if I don’t dip into the lemon butter as heartily as I once did.

Lei wanted to taste the crab meat, but quickly decided it isn’t for her. However she was fascinated by the exoskeleton and collected all the empty legs so she could examine them. She got particularly excited when I showed her the tendons, and explained how they work the same as ours, but they attach onto the external “bone” instead of internal ones like we have.

D quickly joined the fun and the two of them proclaimed themselves marine biologists, an appropriate calling for a girl who still half believes in mermaids. And her brother, of course.

That is Lei at her best. Connected, engaged, communicating, learning, and enjoying herself.

But she’s not always like that. When she is tired or stressed, she retreats into her inner world. She becomes more impulsive and less communicative. This happens enough that the question of whether she has autism has been raised repeatedly. Continue reading

Race, racism and my white, deaf daughter

Lei and I have been talking a lot about the killing of nine African Americans in their church in Charleston, SC, on June 17, institutionalized racism, economic injustice and police brutality.

When she was eight or nine I felt she was mature enough to start learning about these issues that are such a big part of our country’s past and present, so even though it was awkward for me at first, I have tried to be as up front with her as possible about racial inequality.

Deaf or hard-of-hearing children don’t overhear. When someone mutters a racial slur, or when a disturbing story is reported on the radio, they might not make sense of it or even realize anything was said. I’m glad Lei has missed some of the ways that misinformation about race creeps into our brains before we are old enough to really think about what we’re hearing.

But I don’t want her to be uninformed, apathetic or helpless. Continue reading

Speech and the Language Sundae

Buffy: "Stop new wordage? Never gonna happen."
In addition to being bouncy, our speech therapist Buffy was also into slaying anything that interfered with speech and language development.

A playful area rug on the floor, a foot massage with fragrant lotion, a little song performed as though Lei’s toddler feet were microphones: thus began her early speech therapy sessions. Her speech therapist was petite, perky, blond Buffy, a person worthy of sharing a name with the Vampire Slayer. Her approach to speech therapy was to get the child’s nervous system regulated, to give them all the sensory input they needed, to get the muscles of their mouths and faces all working in perfect concert, and only then work on speech. She was (and is) the best.

All this laying of foundation taught me something about speech and language.

Continue reading

From the archive: Controlled chaos all over my shirt

White pit bull terrier

This is a post from December, 2005, that first appeared on my now-defunct blog, Today in the Life. The funny thing about reading this now is the idea that I had any kind of “control” over the chaos. Em … no. Coco was our white and brindle Staffordshire terrier (a.k.a. pit bull), who died in October, 2014. 

Lei just came into her playroom where I am trying to escape my parental responsibilities and made a sign I couldn’t understand. It wasn’t the sign for HOT, but she sounded like she was saying “hot.” I followed her into the living room.

White pit bull terrier
When Coco came to live with us in October of 2005, she had heartworm and was just not well. She was in the pound, a day away from being euthanized when a rescue group swooped in and delivered her to us. She was a handful, way more than I was ready for, but she got better and mellowed out eventually. We loved her dearly.

I still don’t know what she was trying to convey, but when I got into the living room I saw a big puddle, complete with surrounding splash, of watery dog vomit. I guess it’s time to feed Coco.

Coco hasn’t been fed yet this morning because I have to make her food for her. Yes, boiled ground chuck and instant white rice, because anything else gives her the runs. She eats better than three quarters of the world’s population.

But before I could make her food, I had to wipe up the mess. I grabbed a receiving blanket – our answer to towels of all kinds – and used it to absorb the foamy liquid, then added the blanket to the bag of puked-on stuff from last night. We’re not doing so well when it comes to keeping peristalsis heading downward. Continue reading