Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The flower dress

Anybody who ever worked with a 3 year old would know how hard it is to get them to pay attention to you.Rhianna is no exception.She seems to have her own mind about everything and she can be very persistent too.
She recently received a new dress from one of her many aunties (who consistently spoil her silly!).She was so excited that the dress has many colourful flowers, she wouldn't do anything else but keep showing it to anybody who would look.So we spent a good hour counting the flowers,describing the colours and sizes.Guess what?That took care of today's therapy hour.It's funny how much of the daily things that can be turned into language activities.You just have to know how to seize the moment.Man,I'm getting pretty good at this.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Classes update

A little bit of updates..I spoke to Rhianna's music teacher last week.She said Rhianna is doing very well in the class.She's beginning to imitate singing solo when asked to..sometimes not very accurately of course.She has good sense of rhythm and tempo (she didnt get it from me.I'm musically challenged!).She can follow instructions well but sometimes get easily distracted by the noisy toddlers.I guess this class really help sharpening her listening in noise skill.I owe many thanks to the teachers and other parents in the class who cheer and encourage her all the time.They help build her self esteem.

As for her reading class...still too early to say much about the progress, but she enjoys it tremendously.The teacher reported that she's the one with the best behaviour (I wish I can say that at home!).She listens and points as her teacher reads.She tells her class mates "come,sit down" when they walk around (that's her,always bossy).
She knows ( and can say!) her primary and secondary colours,her numbers (1-10)and almost half of the alphabets.She might have to catch up more on her language skill but at least academically,she's pretty much on par with her peers...yippee!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Go figure!

Rhianna is recovering from an episode of cough and cold.She's being very picky about her food and all she wants to eat is I decided to teach her all the words and phrases related to the cake."Cut the cake","bake the cake", "blow the candles"..she can even sing the 'happy birthday' song.So she can pretty much understand and say them all...all but the very word CAKE.
Everytime I ask her what she'd like to have,she'll say "happy birthday to you".Try as I might to get her to say the simple one syllable word "CAKE"...she still prefers the multi syllabic phrases "happy birthday to you"...Go figure!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

simply amazing

One morning..

Rhianna : Kiki come! (calling the cat)
Kiki : meow..(stretching his body)
Rhianna : Kiki come,come (gesturing for the cat to come)
Kiki : meow..(moves lazily towards Rhianna)
Rhianna :Kiki mamam (pushing the food bowl to Kiki)
Kiki :(starts eating)
Rhianna :Sedap?Sedap?
Kiki :(ignoring Rhianna,continues eating)
Rhianna :Kiki air,air (pushing Kiki's head towards the water bowl)
At this point,mommy intervenes (to prevent Kiki from drowning)

It's wonderful to watch this girl talking.This girl that couldn't hear a thing just 7 months ago ( let alone talk ) is now becoming such a chatterbox.Chatting even to the cat who wont answer back.Simply amazing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Funding for CI

As promised,here are the ways to find funding for CI in Malaysia.
The criteria for CI candidacy in Malaysia is probably the same as anywhere else in the world.The child has to be diagnosed to be between severe to profoundly hearing impaired.The audiologist will then put the child on hearing aid trial (between 3-6 months)to see whether any benefits can be obtained from the device.from the ongoing assessment (including mri and ct scan) they will determine whether CI is necessary or not.

In our country,some private hospitals do perform CI surgery for self pay candidates.But the pioneer for this technology in Malaysia would be the National University Hospital (HUKM) who also provides funding for eligible candidates.Our ministry of health has also recently established a CI team that moves around the country providing funding and surgeries for the candidates in general hospitals.So you have to get in touched with these hospitals to learn of ways to get funding.If you work for the government you can apply through the JPA though it might take some time to be approved.So there are many ways to get the first ear implanted.Bilateral implantation is not yet available here.

The problem is,chances are very slim that you will be funded for the second ear that will cost u RM58K currently (for nuchleus 5).So what most people did (we are trying too)is to try to get donations from generous companies.In return,these companies will get tax exemption for the amount donated.There are some who appeal through the media too.You'll be surprised to see how generous people are in our country...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

finding new ear

We have been exploring the possibility of bilateral hearing for Rhianna.She has been implanted on the left ear in august 2009 and switched on in september 2009.So she has been listening for almost 7 months now.Her speech and language progress is amazing.She currently has expressive vocabulary of over 100 words and she is starting to combine them into phrases more easily.She can hear pretty much everything including people whispering (in a quiet envirotment).But telling the direction of the sound remains a challenge since she is only listening from one ear.

So we fitted her with a hearing aid on the right side.Unfortunately,she can only pick up very loud sounds from that.I mean VERY loud sounds like drills,train,chainsaw sounds.So,she needs another implant on her right ear to give her bilateral hearing..and project Finding New Ear begins...

p/s : for those looking for funding for cochlear implants in Malaysia,we'll discuss the options in the next posting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

reading class

Today is Rhianna's first day in reading class.We registered her for Opus Young Reader Program in Opus academy of Music,Bandar Sunway.It's the same place where she attends her weekly music appreciation class for toddlers.
So here I am waiting anxiously outside her classroom expecting her to scream the moment I left her..but nope.She's showing off and talking to her teacher.Sooo.. amazing.I guess one should never underestimate one's offspring.I guess my toddler is already venturing into the world outside her home and family..and she's doing it beautifully.
The music class that she attends mainly aims to sharpen her listening skill.She learns to sing and dance,follow musical cue and rhythm.she also develops self confidence and make new friends.This kind of class I think is superb for children with CI.Rhianna learns new skill every week.
Now, the reading class is actually just mom's lazy way of getting Rhianna to learn new vocabulary.They also do a lot of fun phonic learning which is quite similar to the speech babble (which Rhianna despises..I dont know,maybe I'm doing it wrong)that we are supposed to teach our CI kids.
So,these are some of the activities that is easily available and affordable in our country.So try them!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Little Miss grump

Once in a while, when the moon or stars or the sun get into alignment with each other or lovely little girl will turn into little Miss Grump.

Little Miss grump's mission in life is to irritate and to test the limits of everybody who loves her causing chaos in the family life.From the moment she opens her eyes in the morning until she closes it at night,she will fight us and her favourite word will become "NO!"Her favourite action will be rolling and kicking on the floor.

We all heard of the 'terrible two' phase.As funny as these episodes can sometimes be (to other spectators especially her grandparents who think that she's an angel even if she grew horns and fangs ),they can add up to the parents' stress.

What I've learned from reading and attending multiple talks on behaviour problems is that
1.Being a toddler is hard.They are trying to learn new things and trying to assert their independence while having to recognize their limitations...really, no kidding!

2.Being a toddler with a new CI is even harder.You've been through a surgery that could be quite traumatizing,you are suddenly bombarded with these sounds that people expect you to learn to understand.Furthermore,you have no control over them.

3.God is trying to punish you for giving your mom a hard time when you were a toddler yourself...just kidding.

Anyway..what I do when Little Miss Grump emerges is I pick my battle.I only fight her for really important stuff,like if she needs to take any medicine,or she's really tired but refuses to sleep..Still the best way to handle temper tantrum is to recognize the trigger factor and avoid it.

Most of the time I just lock myself in the bathroom, chill out and repeat the mantra.."This too shall pass..this too shall pass..this too shall pass.."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The star article

For friends who did'nt see article about Rhianna in the star newspaper a few months ago,here's the link.It shows the pictures of some of the professionals involved in her surgery and therapy.Their help and continuous hard work is forever appreciated.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

speech therapy

Aside from audiological mapping,speech therapy is another major aspect that will determine a child's progress.Therapy is a tricky business for a young child.So what we normally do for Rhianna is just play,play and play.While playing we narrate our activities,introduce words and concepts.
We made many mistakes initially.We asked too much questions,expect her to speak when she was not ready,we did'nt recognise the time when she was tired and on and on the list go on.But we are learning and progressing with her.
So simple tips for you all out there:
  • make it fun fun fun (easier said than done!)
  • Don't ask too much questions,rather provide her with the words that you want her to learn.Remember,a child needs to hear a word spoken many many times before she can understand it.
  • talk to your child like you would to a normal hearing child
  • don't use any signs or allow your child to lip read you.
  • and of course,find a quiet place initially to encourage her to listen.Listening in noise will need more training.

enjoy your child!

When a child is born,every parent has certain expectations and hope.You want your child to be smart and creative,loving and kind,good looking and successful later in life.
But when your child is diagnosed with hearing loss or any other disorder,your hope and dreams seem to crumble.It's easy to lose perspectives amidst all the despair.But it's very important to remember that all hope is not lost.

There are a million things that you can teach your child.I teach my girl not to hide the device behind her hair.Though it attracts many unwanted attention and stares,I teach her to wear it with pride.I teach her that there's nothing that she cannot do if she sets her mind to it.Some things might be more difficult for her compared to others..all she has to do is work harder.I hope later she will learn not to make her handicap her disability.

There are days when I still despair.There are days when I still curse fate..not for giving me this child for she is totally delightful.I curse fate for giving her a bad deal..for all the hardship that she will have to endure.Then I have to remind myself..if I continue to despair,I would lose all the joy.The joy of loving this wonderful child that god has given me.

So for you out there..enjoy your child..enjoy every sleepless night,every temper tantrum,every cough, cold and vomit....every smile and laughter,every hug and kiss,every success and setback..everyday of his or her life.