Sunday, March 30

Cold Case

OMG!!! I don't even know where to start about the problems with the Cold Case tonight. They made it seem like as soon as you got a Cochlear you could hear and talk. Does the Deaf community really hate Cochlears that much??! They also made it seem like you could just pick up an ASL for dummies book and be able to use sign language and understand others. It has taken me months & I still didn't catch all the signs that were used! Anyway, I have lots of thoughts, but would love to hear yours! Tell me what you thought and what you noticed. I really like Cold Case and was disappointed on how hearing and the Deaf were portrayed.

Wednesday, March 26


Rebecca's psychiatrist mentioned to us that we should get her started on SSDI now because it would be easier for her to get SSDI before she turned 18 and it would be easier for her later in life. She has no perpherial vision and no night vision right now. I tried to get an exact range of perpherial loss, but the doctor wouldn't do it because of her age so I'm not sure her exact perpherial loss - she is legally blind per our state. So, I do think that she would qualify.

I struggle with this choice, like I have with everyone other choice. I'm not one to take government handouts and I feel like by getting her SSDI I'm telling her that I don't expect much from her. I read the following article that really got me thinking and leaning more towards getting SSDI...

Nine years ago, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education began to track what happens to graduates of certain student groups four years after they graduate from high school. One of the groups included in the study were deaf students. The point of the study was to measure the impact of the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The information for this part of the study was collected in 2005, then studied and sorted and presented in late summer 2006.

So - how many deaf high school students go on to get more education? The survey says slightly under 51%, with a 5.8% margin of error (MOE). Of that half, 21% will attend a 4-year college, 26% will go to a 2-year college, and 13% will attend vocational-technical training. Among all the students surveyed - those who earn a degree and those who don't - 56% found jobs. Their average hourly wage was $7.70. Four years after (high school) graduation, just 29% are living independently. It's not clear from the publicly available study data whether the deaf students surveyed attended mainstream high schools, state deaf schools, or both.

An average wage of $7.70 an hour makes the other low number - 29% living independently - easier to understand. This is a reasonable wage for a teenager
living at home, but it's not a living wage for adults with student loans and other obligations.

By any measure, an educational system where 71% of the graduates cannot live on their own is not working.

This got me thinking if I do not get her SSDI now and she has a difficult time getting it later in life am I really helping her? Would I be of more help to her getting the SSDI started now so that when she is ready to go out into the world she has a little nest egg to get started and will have a monthly check coming to help supplement her income. If she does not need it, great! But if she does, then how would I feel looking back on this decision?

I still struggle with the word disability and accepting income based on a disability because to me Rebecca is very abled, but based on the study above if her income is only going to be around $7, I do not know how she can live her life fully on that income.

I'd love to hear ya'lls thoughts on this. What has been your experience with SSDI? Was it difficult for you to get started?

Monday, March 24

Easter Worries For Nothing

Easter went fabulously! As is ofen the case with me, I worried way too much for nothing.

Saturday, we went to a hunt at a local park where you could see all the eggs - it was wide open and they were good sized eggs. That was my test - she did great, actually she got more eggs than her sister! We came back home after the hunt and lunch and made colored our eggs. I got really big eggs. We also let them sit in the dye for 4 hours so they were very bightly colored eggs. After dinner we came back and the girls decorated the eggs more.

Sunday, the girls got up and we went to church. When we got back the Easter bunny had left them gifts and had hidden the eggs. I had made a map of where all the eggs were, but we didn't need it. Jasmine helped her sister a few times by pointing them out, but she found most of them herself by feeling around the tall patches of grass. There was 30 eggs in all (2 prize eggs), each of the girls found 1 prize egg, Jasmine found 17 and Rebecca found 13 regular eggs.

After the hunt we went to lunch that I talked about in my previous post. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, we may need to use them at some point but for this year she didn't need much assistance.

Sunday, March 23

Deaf Working In Our Community

Today we ran across our first Deaf working person in our community. We were in line at Golden Corral and the lady getting the drinks for everyone was telling the person in front of us that she is Deaf, so please look at her when ordering. We overheard and I could barely contain myself. When she turned her head I saw that she was wearing a hearing aid. I asked her if she was Deaf, she said yes and then she asked if we signed. I signed back yes and then signed our order to her. I was so excited for Rebecca to see her and Rebecca signed to her as well. When we were leaving I asked where she lives and she lives in the same town that we do. I hope that we see her more. It was good for Rebecca to see another Deaf person working. I know that Deaf people work, please don't think that - we just have not ran across any Deaf people in our community who are currently working when we see them. I hope that we brightened this young girls day a little bit and I know that she encouraged me and brightened my day. I asked for the manager while we were there to tell him thank you for hiring her, but he was not there. I will send an email and hopefully it will get down to him. I want to thank Golden Corral for hiring her, but also for not just putting her in the back cooking. I am grateful that she was the first person that we saw when we were there & I want to thank the manager for doing that!

Rebecca continues to be in shock when we see others who know sign language or who are Deaf when we are out. It takes me saying 3 or 4 times saying that they are Deaf before she really believes it. When we were in Oklahoma we ate breakfast at a little restraunt and a waitress there took ASL in school so she could sign. We watched Marlee Matlin on Dancing with the Stars and Rebecca's jaw hit the floor again when she started signing.

I love that God is placing people in our lives to be an encouragement along our path.

Happy Easter Everyone!! BTW...Rebecca is going to be Baptised next Sunday. It is going to be a great day for our family & our Church family!

Tuesday, March 18

I'm Ready For Summer!!

We went camping this last week. It was incredible! We stayed in an RV, so I'm not sure if you really consider that camping, but we had a great time! The girls built a fire, roasted hot dogs & marshmallows. We played games by the fire with the assistance of a big light and a bowl for the dice. We also played games inside. The girls taught me a new game that they had learned at school, Mancala. That was a lot of fun. The RV had a blind that separated the master from the living area where the girls were sleeping we turned the light on in the master & we made animals out of our bodies while the rest of the family tried to guess the animal (sort of like a really big shadow puppet or like shadow dancing). The girls' great-grandmother lives not too far from where we were staying so they also got to spend more time with her which was great too! They also got to see some of their cousins that they haven't seen since Christmas.

We also flew kites. This was fun, we had our "usher" moments when Rebecca couldn't see hers because it was too bright so we just explained it to her. She still enjoyed herself and was proud that the string was all the way out.

When we were at the Texas/Oklahoma border, the girls got out next to the Texas sign and did several poses together and separately. One of the poses, Rebecca signed love & Jasmine made the "x" like she was signing Texas. I love it when the sign in pictures!! We have pictures of family members signing in our house - mostly ILYs. I just love it because it is like they are talking through the pictures - it makes them much more memorable.

We had to come back early because a nasty storm was headed our way, but I was grateful for the time that we had. Rebecca's school audiologist also said that she noticed Rebecca's non-implanted eardrum was red, so we had an ENT appointment late that afternoon. We came home, unpacked, watched a movie, the girls took naps & then we went to the appointment which was pointless - her eardrum was fine. This was her first time at this ENT and the only information that they gave me was that she was profoundly Deaf - "really!" I wanted to shout! I'm shocked!" Anyway, I didn't, it was just a total waste of time but I was relieved to hear nothing was wrong with her eardrum. I was glad that I was already off work and that Rebecca didn't have to miss any school for this appointment.

The last day of our spring break together I took the girls shopping for their summer swimsuits and then we went to an indoor water park and let them have fun for a few hours. The one thing that I do not like about this park is that their lifeguards rotate every 20 minutes or so. I try to let the lifeguards near the deep end and around the areas that I'm most concerned about the girls know that Rebecca is Deaf so that they won't keep yelling at her if they need her attention. I am always within distance, but she's 10 and needs some space. I also have her sister stay close. One area that I tell is at the slide because we can't all go down together. This is difficult when the person changes every 2o minutes. I ended up having her sister go up with her and then staying down at the bottom. After swimming we went to the girls favorite hot chocolate place and had hot chocolate and rice crispy treats. Then we went to go see Horton Hears A Who. There are no captioned theaters in our area, but Rebecca seemed to be fine with this movie. I've noticed that cartoons are more difficult for her because she can't read the lips. This movie seemed to be fine and she understood the point. It was another great day and the girls were wore out by the end of it.

I can't wait until summer and spring break has gotten me antsy! We have to decide on a summer program for the girls and plan our summer. During the summer we will go to Sea World San Antonio, SEE2 Conference, Sports Camp, Rebecca will to go to a hearing camp, both girls will go to a foster/adoptive camp in East Texas, VBS & Rebecca will be adopted somewhere in this summer (hopefully towards the beginning). Last year it worked out that there was something every 2-3 weeks. We will also try to fit in more camping (of course).

Monday, March 17

Easter Worries

I know that I'm going to sound like a moron, but I'm going to ask anyway. Rebecca has no perpherial vision and cannot see things underneath her. I starting thinking about the Easter egg hunts and how that is all about searching for an egg. I starting thinking of what a mess my yard is going to be with the eggs that she steps all over. Is there a way to make this easier? I don't think that bright colored eggs would be enough, but I was thinking maybe if I made paths and then had her walk along the paths trying to spot the eggs to the right or left of her?

Does anyone else have any other suggestions?

Should I make it seperate hunts? One for her and one for her sighted sister?

Wednesday, March 5

Learning Each Others Language

Rebecca and me are still learning each others languages. I am taking an intermediate signing class for the second time. Last week my teacher was out and so our class went the advanced class. I am definately an intermediate signer and I would say that Rebecca also has an intermediate language base. We still have a long way to go, but I look forward to the journey of getting there. I don't know how long it takes to become a fluent signer, but I know I've been signing for 6 months and I still have a lot to learn.

We are also still learning how to talk to each other. I'm learning how to explain things so that Rebecca understands it the first time instead of me repeating it 4 or 5 different ways before she "gets" it (or gives up, I'm not sure). She is also learning how to talk to me so that it doesn't take that much effort on her part. I know we each get frustrated, but it is improving - we are just stuck on intermediate and I'm ready to be advanced.