Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not Your "Typical" Child Tuesday #1

So, it's another new addition to the blog. There is no way around sharing bits and pieces of my life and leaving out why I homeschool or why I have OTs (occupational therapist) blogs, or SLP (speech language pathologist) links to share. So, in honor of some upcoming awareness months, my children and the many special needs families out there, I'm going to be doing Not Your "Typical" Child Tuesdays. Each week I will feature a "special needs" issue that some families are dealing with, which may include a guest poster or two....I hope! (Volunteers are needed!) I also will be featuring various links to places that have helped us to work with or around one or more of my boys' own issues. It's not normally a frugal, preparedness, food, craft, recycling subject but, as the numbers rise of children with one or more neurological disorders. I feel it's something that we need to address and include in our lives. Maybe learn enough about to be able to help each other out. I hope you'll come along for the ride! I promise to still share and post as I always have but, Tuesdays, they're for eye opening experiences that can bring all of us together! :)

This first Tuesday, I am going to share some things on communication. In a house with a Hard of Hearing/deaf child and one who exhibits signs of Auditory Processing Disorder, I've had to learn my way around pretty fast and not always in the prettiest manner! I am by no means an expert on anything, I just want to share some posts from some very great places that have helped us along in our journey. These sights were good for DW who has a little trouble with hearing certain letters or sounds and they work well with JD who, well he's just all around hard to communicate with period, though he's made some amazingly HUGE strides just in the last year alone. Please note, that both of my boys are in OT, PT and JD is in ST (speech therapy) so, these sites didn't just do all the work!

First up is Speech Time Fun. I loved her two tap lights idea! Her suggestions and printables just add to feel of this exercise! It's a really neat thing to try, even if you can't get them to do the part where you record their own voice. It's still a fun thing or the kiddos to do with the tap lights!

*If your kiddo has a SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder with or w/o autism and has an aversion to white, you can always paint these. Just be careful to keep the paint out of the crevices. To change the light color, I used tissue paper and colored tape to cover the dome. *

Another great resource is Testy Yet Trying. There are a bunch of great printable cards to help your kiddo articulate the particular sounds. Though if you check out the blog itself, there are a myriad of other printables, games and ways to help your kiddo maybe learn to begin to communicate!

As a homeschooler with a preschooler who is obsessed with being homeschooled (I love these years!),  this site is a BLESSING a lot of the time. LiveSpeakLove is a great site that has so many printables and activities for you and your child to try! This one here, I cannot wait to try with the little guy!

This next site works well for my boys. My oldest, computer obsessed kiddo it works for practicing his blends, something he seems to have some trouble with on occasion. That being said, Reading Fun was awesome for teaching the preschooler his colors, patterns and a few other things too. It's a completely online group of activities for them to do by themselves or with you. 

If you have a special needs kiddo who...for lack of a better word has, "anger issues".....whether that is loosing it over the smell of fresh peeled oranges, or has tics so bad he/she rages out or because specifically their communication skills are behind, you know managing and trying to head off a meltdown is not easy. By a LONG shot! With my oldest son, he would get so upset so fast over something no one would see coming, he'd loose the ability to actually communicate that he was mad! Now, he's a VERY articulate young man, so it took everyone a while to figure out what was happening. We used a similar system from Speech Lady Liz! With JD, he just couldn't communicate period what his issue was so, for him, we did the faces chart. You'll find this great idea over on her I feel today post. 

If your curious about what sounds or letter sounds your child should be making correctly at what age, here is a great printable from Mommy Speech Therapy.

If you're concerned that your child is a later talker, here's a great post from Child Talk to give you some pointers. The best advice I can give is like a recent post I read, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat - everything as much as you can! If you've done all of these things, and you're concerned about your child's hearing, by all means take them in!!

If you find out that your child is Hard of Hearing or Deaf. It's really not the end of the world. I promise you that! A lot of people I knew growing up and have come to meet over the years are Deaf and PROUD of it. Truth be told, in some ways I envy the Deaf world! As a hearing mother I will never fully be a part of the deaf community but, I kind of get a hall pass on occasion! :)  Which is nice and the support you'll find within the community is.....overwhelming! It's truly an amazing experience and though as a hearing person, it makes me sad that my son will never really hear how beautiful the birds are, his life experiences will be richer and more complex at an earlier age than I could have ever known. So, don't be afraid to jump in with both feet, it's the one time I fully advocate jumping in without looking!

Here's a great starting point for you though, Hear My Hands has a great post to get you started. With information on ASL, the Deaf community, etc.

One of their resources listed there is ASL Pro. Let me tell you how awesome this site has been for me! You not only get to SEE how the hands/fingers move but, when I tell you that facial expressions can be paramount sometimes, I'm not joking! So, it's nice to see how the face moves with the sign. 

Another great site for trying to find support for you and your family is Hands and Voices. At least for me anyway, finding local support to help with my learning curve was invaluable! 

Sign language doesn't have to be just for the Hard of Hearing or Deaf kiddos. With my youngest, it enabled him to communicate where he couldn't do it verbally before. So, if your child has a communication issue and is capable of at least understanding sign, I'd give it a try. Another thing I can tell you, if your child is verbal or making noises and clearly wants to communicate, I'd try picture cards. I did this with JD and suddenly he could tell me what he wanted for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The meltdowns lessened and so I moved onto picture cards for his toys, clothes, etc. It was an incredible relief I think for him. 

There are probably hundreds more links, sites and advice out there and truth be told, I've been given so much over the last several years that I cannot remember it all. If you've got any sites, advice or ideas, feel free to share! I know I'd appreciate it! 

Thanks for hanging out for my 1st - Not Your "Typical" Child Tuesday!
We now return to your regularly scheduled program....


  1. I have three sons. None of them are hard of hearing, but I have lost over half the hearing in both my ears, and feel that deafness is inevitable in my future. I'd like to start teaching all three of my boys the basics of ASL over summer break as our "summer homeschooling project" (we teach something every year). Can you recommend any websites, books, groups, etc. that can help me in my goals?

    As an aside, my husband is a high-functioning autistic and my oldest son is either also a HF autistic or has some other form of mild autism (he's in high school right now). Hubby is a paramedic and is going to learn alongside the rest of us, he figures it might be helpful in his line of work as well.

    (not sure if the younger two boys are autistic spectrum or if they are just picking up traits and quirks from their older sibling and stepfather. Who knows?)

  2. I like this new feature! Thanks for listing all of these fabulous resources! My son has residual auditory processing issues. He was in speech therapy via the public school system for two years (he was in private school for K5) until we started homeschooling in 1st grade, then suddenly they felt he was fine and didn't qualify anymore... His wonderful speech therapist sent me a pile of stuff to work with him at home and his speech is great now, he just mixes up stuff he hears a lot. Looking forward to future posts! :)

  3. Here's what I have learned, different areas have different dialects of ASL. Some people use versions that are part of signed English, yes there is such a thing. With signed English, you literally would sign every single word! Which is fine I suppose if you are a hearing person but, most members of the Deaf community prefer ASL, not signed English. There are even different derivations of signs depending upon locations in the country and generations, kind of like the slang we use verbally. When I was younger, it was "that's sweet", now I believe it's something like "that's sick". So, learning via book can trip you up that way.

    Another problem with books that I've found at least, is that seriously, the facial expression can make or break the word! Take the sign for 'understand'. Depending upon your facial expression, at least the way that I was taught, if you nodded your head, it meant you do understand. If your scrunch your face up, the more scrunchy the less you understand. So, with one sign, you can say 'I understand', I sort of understand or I have no clue! All with a single sign and the facial expressions!

    Another thing that bothers me with books, is that you seriously cannot always see the appropriate way to move the hands sometimes. There are some books that make it easier with arrows but, I'm a perfectionist and it drove me nuts sometimes! Especially knowing that I was teaching two boys, one of which I wanted to be at home in the deaf community, I wanted them to learn the signs the correct way. Though to be honest, not one HoH/Deaf person I've met has ever been so staunchy as I and rude to me if I did it wrong. They were extremely understanding and helped me to sign it correctly. Truth is as the boys age, I'm still learning! I went from signing basic signs, red, yellow, blue, motorcycle, tow truck to short sentences and so on.

    My best peace of advice is to contact your local Hands and Voices chapter, or your local audiologist. They can get you in touch with a local facility that can help you out! I a lucky to live down the street from a Boys Town National Research Hospital, internationally known for their hearing programs. They've been extremely helpful. In most cases one of these avenues will link you to a facility to goes out of it's way to help Hard of Hearing/Deaf community members. From finding you the equipment that blinks when the phone or doorbell ring, to finding you FREE sign language classes. Most places will have free classes and if they don't look around, ask an audiologist if they know of any classes in the area. In my community the Vocational Rehab Center takes care of it's HoH/Deaf members, along with Hands and Voices. I'm also lucky in that a local church even has weekend classes for free as well. So, I definitely encourage asking around, you'll never know what you'll find.

    I think as far as websites go, ASLPro that I mentioned above was an awesome physical resource for me. Another one that I found useful was one called http://www.lifeprint.com/ Again, local in person learning is the best way but, these sights aren't at all horrible and completely free to do. I'm sure that if you google it you'll find hundreds of sites that are all about teaching sign but, again, remember some sites or people are using signed English and this and ASL are not the same thing.

    I hope some of this has been helpful and if I think of anything else I will let you know!
    Hugs -Em

  4. @Jan - Thanks very much for the compliment, I'm glad you like it! Means a lot today!

  5. @Patricia Lynn...there was one more resource that I found extremely helpful. I will give you their links page but, it is really a community of blogs about or by members of the Deaf community. It is extremely insightful to me. Anyway, here is the links page: http://deafvillage.com/news/?page_id=4636