Tuesday, 14 May 2013

One year since surgery...

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14 May 2012.
Surgery day.
Aarav Shewale.
Right ear Cochlear implant surgery.

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A year has passed. One Complete Year.

How is this even possible? How has it been a year already?

The day drags on forever, but the weekend vanishes in thin air?
And what we consider to be a significantly long time frame, a 'Year', that seems to pass faster than the blink of an eye??

Yesterday.
A year ago.

We were in the hospital today.

.
.
.
.
.
.

Why do I still remember this as I do?
Why is it still so difficult to write?

Why do I still remember entering the hospital room and showing Aarav the birds flying outside, trying our level best to get him settled in the foreign environment, playing hide and seek in spite of disapproving looks from other hospital patients who dint know that we had a baby in here. Living through the day in anticipation of the time to come but still pretending normalcy.

How do I still remember the doctors visiting the room. The checking, poking, testing and then playing and helping Aarav to feel good?
Why did I not notice just the smiles that were spread when Aarav played with these ladies but also saw their eyes that spoke the emotions of a mother within?

Why do I still remember preparing for the surgery? Preparing the documents. Running for the medical insurance. Making the documents ready.
Telling family what to do if we are not sane for something important. And yet being perfectly normal when the time came?

Why do I still remember the night before that Kaustubh spent walking the corridors of the hospital trying to sooth Aarav to sleep?
How do I still remember that he had not slept for days before the surgery but the night before, when at my darkest hour, he still conjured up strength when I could not?

Why do I still remember the look Aarav gave me when they took him into surgery?
How do I still remember that he was brave one and was first to wave me bye bye?
Why do I still remember that I dint cry when I felt broken?

How do I remember the expression on every face when Aarav was yet to wake up from the anaesthesia?
The expressions that changed to joy when he did stir after so long and then looked around to take in the room to see everyone present.
The smiles that we saw when he signed to us to tell that his nurse just left the room...

Why do I still remember the pitiful glances of people when they saw tiny little Aarav with the heavy bandage on his head.
And then laughing it off to continue living in denial of how significant a change that has just happened?

Why do I remember every single thing that happened a year ago yet have difficulty telling what I had for breakfast today morning?
Am I not allowed to forget this day? Or to be able to only keep it as a memory and filter out the emotions that the day brought?
To filter out the anger, the pain, the turmoil, the anguish?

Why cant I disentangle these emotions and just write out the day as a 'event'?
Why does every returning memory compel me to relive it again?

How can I write pages of utter nonsense in minutes while it took me five days to write about today?

One year has passed.
But the bandages remain intact. I cant rip them off.
More than the fear of the truth is the fear of remembering the events that we lived through to get to the truth.

Amusing isn't it?
Was the trodden path that I now remember really so excruciating that it still shadows the joy that I have today?
Would remembering the pained tears of yesterday still make them stronger than the tears of joy that I have today?
Maybe.
Maybe I should not be digging up corpses.

Last year I told myself, "One year from today, I will have forgotten this day and I will be happy".
I obviously have not forgotten but I guess I am happy.
Happy enough to want to write about the flames that still eat through my ivory tower.

Flames that will die out eventually.
They will. I know. They have to.
Please.

One year from today. I will give them another year to egress away...
One year from today I will have forgotten this pain and I will write this day as just another blog event.
One year from today I will have been healed. Mended. Or dead inside.

One year from today....







Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Triumvirate sets up shop for Aarav's next school year..

 
The Triumvirate being Aarav's school teachers, his Parents and last but not the least, the leader of our group, Aarav's Therapist...

We LOVE our Therapist !!  Yes. We simply love her!!
I may not write about her much, but our therapist, Shweta is an integral part of our lives now. We may not mind not meeting our families for weeks, but even a single therapy session missed makes us truly homesick...!!
She takes a lot of effort for Aarav. She even came to visit his daycare soon after he was implanted to help ease him into the daycare life again..
She makes us study and gives us homework to do as well, she records observations and keeps track of Aarav's development and much much more...
Now this may seem like part of her job, but you can tell when a person is just doing his job and when one really goes beyond his call of duty and does things for you...
She really does care !
She is the simply the best.

Last year, Shweta had come to visit Aarav's daycare after the implant was done.
Last week, 10 months post implant, she came to visit again!!!!

This time too, she carved out time from her schedule and waited and met with the daycare people and Aarav's teachers.
She spoke to the teacher and took notes.

Here's what we learned..

1 - Seating arrangement in a classroom for a child with Cochlear Implant

The teachers said that Aarav is one of the most proactive kid in school, but if he sits in any of the back benches he then gets so bored that he takes a nap in the middle of teaching time!!
So the teacher now placed him in the first bench, right in the front. He was much more attentive after that.

Shweta's input :
Aarav's seating arrangement has to be such that his CI ear gets maximum exposure to what the teacher is saying..

Placing the CI kid in the correct place in a classroom is very important to his learning.

 Either the CI kid should be seated in a Horseshoe seating position or in the front row if seated in a classroom row wise method.
As Aarav's right ear has been implanted, he should be sitting with his right ear towards the teacher when in Horseshoe.
Or placed at the left side of the teacher, such that his right ear faces the wall, and left ear to the next kid near him.

Now I was a little baffled by the second seating method, I was expecting Aarav to be seated with his right ear towards the teacher.
But Shweta's explanation helped resolve this.

If Aarav has a talkative child near his right ear, closer than the teacher, then the teacher's voice gets masked and Aarav will then pay more attention to the child next to him and not the teacher. Whereas if his ear faces the wall, then by the way sound travels, the talkative child will speak in his left ear, and his right wear will still be able to pick up the teachers voice as it bounces of the wall next to him. In this way the teacher's voice will not get masked under anyone's voice!!

 

2 - Benefits for the child with Cochlear implants of being involved with speaking peers

Aarav's teachers observed that when Aarav sits next to any quiet kid, he is quieter. But when placed in between two talkative ones, Aarav is equally babbly. He does like to interact a lot.

Shweta's input :
Again proper seating arrangement and interactive learning with the involvement of the talkative child.
Basically what should be done is let the talkative child and Aarav speak by turns, so that Aarav gets new words from the kid and understands that he has to speak.

Even we are supposed to implement this now as a dialog method. So we have to take turns and speak with Aarav now.

3 - Restricting Visual games and encouraging listening

Aarav does not like repeating anything, said his teachers. He is much too fast for repetition and he gets bored really fast.
And if he knows the routine, like a nursery rhyme, he will just wrap up the actions and move one even if others are yet to do it..

But when the teachers introduce anything new, Aarav loves it and is one of the first ones to try it out..

Our observations and solution :
His speed cannot and should not be remedied, we just have to channel and put it to good use :D
As his visual prowess will always remain better, we have to make sure that he does not have many visual distractions.
Only then will he learn to employ his hearing skills better.

I faced the same problem at home as well.. By the time we have done 2-3 ling sounds Aarav used to get bored of the activity and move on to the next.
So now I have packed off all his toys and give him only one toy at a time and once he is done playing with it for the day, it is packed away again.
This way seems to be working now. We consistently did our lings by playing basket ball and then beads and so on.

Shweta's suggestion for making Aarav pay attention:

Shweta asked the teachers and us as well to repeat instructions for Aarav again after calling out to him specifically.
As Aarav now responds to his name well this will help grab his attention and inform him that he is being spoken to.

When any instruction is given to all, for example, "Come on kids, lets bring a chair", the teacher is supposed to repeat, "Come on Aarav, lets bring a chair!"
When this is done, Aarav will understand the command better.

We tried this at home as well. when we call out his name, Aarav turn to see towards the caller and then listens for the next sentences and obeys faster..
This is much better that just generalizing action sentences for all.

4 - Other observations

a - Expressions and people skills of the tiny toddler

The teachers say that where he lacks in expressive language, he makes up for that in gestures or babbles or facial expressions!
While this may not be a plus point where verbalizing him is concerned, but that is definitely an asset to his personality.

b  - Leadership skills in Aarav

He is a leader. He even got graded A+ in leadership skills!!! He will not tolerate being dominated for sure.
And he is not the kind of person to use brute force, but will employ his charm and be all sweet and cunningly persuasive.
The teacher told us about one such incident..

One of his friends had his favorite car toy and he wanted it back as soon as the kid took it...
So instead of asking the other kid for the toy directly, he went and got another toy. And then told the kid that, 'the car is dirty, this toy is nice, here take it, throw the dirty car away' and then did a simple exchange.
He was happy and the other kid was happy!! A win win situation for all!

c  - Takes time to make friends..

He takes time to get acquainted with new people. He is not afraid, but just cautious. That seems to be a good thing too!

d  - Responds to his name in a crowd

In a crowd of 12 kids, Aarav responds to his name.

e - Responds to environmental sounds

When the class is in session and there is a loud environmental sound, Aarav responds to the sound and turns.

f - Aarav tries to repeat and mimic speech

Aarav repeats or tries to repeat saying the words that the teachers say.


Homework for parents..

After the school discussion and our latest therapies we have been given the following homework...

1 - Include vegetables and flowers in therapy study. Also make sure to implement 3 word memory for Aarav by using three word sentences.

2 - Babbled syllable songs.
We are still in between new syllables. He understands them but saying is still not happening. But if we force him to say them then he can!
For example, he still says AAee for Monkey, but if you make him repeat OOOMM , eem , aam , aem, ssm and so on, he can say them properly.
So now the task for us is to make him say these in sing song games and for every game he should say a syllable.
Repetition and practice is needed a lot..

3 - Add range to speech. If he knows a word, introduce a new synonym for the word.
 

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On an ending note..
This month and school year end may be considered a breeze if compared to what is yet to come now...
Aarav has been speeding ahead of us and the effort that we are taking as parents does not seem to be enough now for his progress.
It is like we are pulling him back when he can do a lot more ...

The next year we now have to be actively involved in Aarav's study and schooling schedules and make sure that we prepare him for all that will be taught in the school.
This preparation is also to be able to mainstream him next year.

So for those you have seen how crazy our life has been this year... well??  
We may not even be seen in the coming years now that we have to put in an all-out effort to achieve our goals ...

The raw materials have now been delivered.
Time now to lay down the real foundations... 
 
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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Aarav passed Play Group!!


Last year Aarav attended Play School. The school was in the Daycare campus and in the daycare timing.
So our thought was, that if he has to be in the daycare for 8-9 hours, he might like the organized play time of 2 hours spent in a school-environment.

Our main intention of sending him in the school was just to let him have fun instead of being in the daycare for the entire day..

We dint follow the syllabus or make him revise any school-related homework. We just paid the fees and let him attend the school with all his friends..
The only homework we were doing was our therapies..

When the first term results were given, we got all 'B+'s for most of the items and B or less in anything related to communication, verbal or otherwise.
As he was implanted just a few weeks before school started, we were not expecting anything from him. And he was barely 1.5 years old. Too young to be schooled..
In fact, even that he sat throughout the school hours was more than enough.

Now that the year has ended, we thought that promoting him into the next higher class might not happen as his communication is still not as strong as other kids his age..
But what did we know!!! Aarav surprised us again!!

Aarav has attended the school for the entire year with his ears working, of which the last six months he was comfortable with his new ears well..
In spite of us not really taking any effort for the school or the exams or any grades.. Aarav passed Play Group!!! Yay!!

And as if that is not all?? He was able to appear for the exam just the same as other kids and got a lot of correct answers as well !!!
While we thought that taking his report card was going to be just a formality, it actually turned out to be a huge event for us !!!!

Aarav's teacher said that was able to name out and identify cars, few domestic animals, few wild animals, fruits, few action items, 3 colors, 2 shapes, and a lot more.. !!
He did miss out on a few questions about naming flowers, social helpers, naming good habits, and spontaneous speech.. but we will now add them to the to do list..
But he did properly answer all the questions that we had covered as part of the therapies. He also babbled and danced a nursery rhyme in the exam!!!
(I have these written in Aarav's diary.. I'll post a picture soon)

Yay!!

During the discussion of his school year, exam results and future plans, Our therapist also had come to the Day care and School to visit and meet with the teachers. (LOVE HER!!)
His teachers think that he may be ok in the next higher year, but we do not want to push him ahead to soon, especially since age wise we still have the time to go gradually.
So it has been decided that Aarav will be attending Play group this year as well.
And Aarav's therapist, and us, we all will be actively participating in his school year and we will be studying for his school over and above his therapies..
I will post more on the discussion that happened soon..

But lots of celebrations till then!!!!


Aarav passed his very first school year at 10 months and 2 weeks of Hearing age !!!!!!!



Thursday, 2 May 2013

And the TV is back on again!!

Gone are the days when we depended on the supremely-entertaining-captivating-immobilizing Television for Aarav's dinners.

When the TV is on, Aarav moves like the moon around the earth.. His eyes remain fixed on the TV and the rest of his body just hover around.
This was the ideal situation a few months back when I wanted Aarav to start sitting in one place and have his dinner instead of running marathons at every morsel.

Even now, when we sit for dinner, the sure-fire way to make Aarav open him mouth for the next morsel is to threaten him that the TV will be switched off..
He still stares at the idiot box and opens his mouth to eat whatever I feed him and chews it faster every "now the TV is off" threat.
Such a blessing it was.

But as the TV is encroaching in on our non-dinner time, we wanted to reduce the TV use.
This is becoming a hard task now.
The TV now has a very commanding presence and every single cartoon we have DVR-ed, calls out to Aarav as soon as he is home!!

And if the TV is on, and Aarav is home, we have to see only what he wants to see!!!

The digital video recorder is a curse when you have a toddler.
Especially when he knows that we have recorded all his favorite cartoon movies.

We have now seen
Up 187 times
Megamind 234 times
Monkey thieves 378 times.
Ratatoille 424 times.
Lion king 553 times.
Teletubbies an equally excruciating 643 times.
Aladdin 779 times.
Ice age 894 times
And Finding Nemo 456562.7845 times in the last three months.

We can now recite the entire movie dialogs parallelly and say the multiplication of 2 at the same time. And if we stammer it will be for the table.

It is worse when Aarav knows the correct remote.
Hiding the remote is just child's play even for him now! We get a look saying "Dude?? is that all you can do??"
And the TV is switched on again.

It is even worse as Aarav knows the 'Play button' on the DVR remote.
So pausing and saying "TV broke down" does not work.
He just goes and uses the remote himself and hits the play button.
And the TV is back on again.

It is even even worse when Aarav understands that we are tricking him by switching off the TV from the main line.
He checks and knows that the switch is off and asks us to switch it on.
And the hypnotizing Tv is back on again.

It is even even even more worse that if we keep the TV switch on, but disconnect the TV plug and hide it away, he knows we have not even plugged the TV in!!
Using all his mighty tinyness he searches behind the TV table for stray plugs. Tries to plug it in.. which means we have to plug it in.
And the Annoying-Hypnotizing-Tv is back on again.

It is even even even more more worser that no matter what two full-grown-smart-innovative-cunning-strategically efficient-adults do to keep the TV off, the tiny tot simply cannot be fooled.
He works his brain and works out whatever 'genius' ideas we concoct to keep the TV off.
He just knows how to solve it.
And then the Brain eating-Annoying-Hypnotizing-Idiot box-of a TV set is back on again.

And It is even even even more more worse-est that if we do outsmart him and Aarav cannot figure out what we did to kill the TV, he just screams bloody murder and tell us "AAI EEVEE LAU"
 
And the BLOODY-BRAIN EATING-ANNOYING-HYPNOTIZING-IDIOT BOX of a TV set is back on again.

Groan!!


Don't judge me if I manage to throw a tricycle through the bloody LCD and strangle it with its own cord.



 


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