Scarlet’s Hearing Equipment

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Scarlet draws the “thumbs up” from page 11 of her book. (Notice her shirt says, “Be Yourself”.)

It is natural for kids to be narcissistic, thinking mostly about themselves and their personal situations, until they are tweens (10-12). Scarlet, being only 7 at the time of this writing, doesn’t totally understand how different her hearing situation is from most other people.

One difference that Scarlet is well aware of is her hearing equipment. In her book we mention the great advantage to being able to NOT hear when it comes time to go to bed. This is true… not the monster creeping out of the closet, but everything else. When Scarlet wakes up in the morning, she can’t hear anything until she puts her coils onto her head. This means that Scarlet, a 7 year old, is wandering around the house, completely oblivious to any sounds happening around her.

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[As I type this, at 5AM in May with the windows open, I hear birds singing and traffic zooming on a busy road near our house. Scarlet will never know the experience of waking up to birds chirping.]

Thankfully, it is not difficult to equip Scarlet with the tools for hearing. There are several companies that offer cochlear implant equipment. The one our family went with, Advanced Bionics, has a couple of different devices (at the time of this writing; technology is changing all of the time). One of them allows the processor to be clipped to her clothing. This one has a long cord that reaches from the processor to the coil that sticks to Scarlet’s head. A couple nice things about this equipment is that it is easy and fast to put on. It can clip to anything; Sometimes I clip it to Scarlet’s hair! Another great thing about this device is that it is waterproof. Some drawbacks to this one, though, are that its batteries are hard to get to and need to be changed often. Plus, the long cord gets caught on things and pops the coil off a lot.

The other device that Scarlet has for hearing attaches to the back of her ear with double-sided tape. An earlier version of “Scarlet’s Superpower” had the word tear in it on page 4, when it says, “I reach up and slowly, carefully remove one of my sound processors.” We removed this word because we didn’t want the book to be disturbing. That could diminish the message of the text. The truth of the matter is that every night we DO have

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It is common for Scarlet’s hair to get stuck to the double-sided tape.

to rip the processors off of Scarlet’s ears. And, many times it really hurts her, pulling a hair that is stuck in there. Also, I fear for my daughter’s skin behind her ear. Some advantages of these devices are that they are smaller with shorter cords, lighter in weight, the batteries last longer, and they have the ability to attach an additional device that allows her teacher to use an FM speaker system to broadcast directly to her cochleas. (This last feature may be the subject of a future book; one about her bionic abilities.)

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Here is Scarlet’s teacher Mrs. Brans celebrating with Scarlet the day she signed the National Anthem at a baseball game. This was the same day that “Scarlet’s Superpower” was published. We had to leave the game early, because it began to rain.

A serious drawback of this latter device is that it is NOT waterproof. This is where the subject of this blog comes into play. Scarlet has recently begun complaining a little about not being able to go outside for recess if it is drizzling or if rain seems imminent. Having her equipment break is too risky. One thing I didn’t mention about the equipment, and I won’t expand upon, is that it is a hassle and nuisance to have to get any of it replaced. Thank goodness we can and it is possible, but it is FAR from convenient.

So…

Scarlet’s Superpower, albeit totally awesome, and it truly is, came from a desire to help Scarlet feel good about being different. “I might have to stay inside when it is wet out, but I don’t have to hear the fire alarm.” My aim is to empower Scarlet AND kids like her with this new, SUPER attitude or way of looking at their disabilities or special conditions, a positive outlook.

We are already seeing it play out when we hear from children telling us that they are okay with wearing glasses because they now view it as a superpower. Please, share more of these stories with us. And, share “Scarlet’s Superpower” with others, because this is one of those synergistic powers, in that, rather than being depleted, the more it is shared, the greater it becomes. That will be the topic for another blog.

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Planning for page 8 of “Scarlet’s Superpower”

Complaining Is NOT Classy; Communicating Is

img_2277I’m excited to share some of the classy mini lessons that I have been giving my daughter on the way to school. Sometimes the lessons are prompted by behaviors. This one was not. In fact it seemed like it was better received, because I was not telling Scarlet that she did anything wrong. I was simply stating a fact: Complaining is NOT classy. There was no need for getting defensive. We had a lovely conversation about it.

 

An hour later, third graders began filing into my classroom. Some students didn’t like something that they read on the morning board. When I heard their groans, I got everyone’s attention. I told them about the lesson that I had just shared with Scarlet: It isn’t classy to complain. Rather than whining about having to take a quiz, you should communicate. Tell the teacher (me) that you understand that assessments are necessary, but you would rather experience dynamic lessons than complete a boring quiz. This will make the teacher (me) feel good about your appreciating his (my) hard work, and maybe he (I) will reconsider administering a quiz today. Whining just makes you sound lame.checklist

When teaching Scarlet the lesson, I used her teacher, Mrs. Brans, and a writing lesson as a hypothetical situation. I told Scarlet that if Mrs. Brans had you writing all morning, and then announces after lunch that the class was going to do more writing, it would not be classy to complain, even if you are extremely unhappy about this prospect. It would behove you to communicate to Mrs. Brans that, although you really like writing, you practiced it all morning and are tired. Ask Mrs. Brans if there is any way you and the class could take a little break, before continuing with more writing.

I asked Scarlet if this sounded reasonable. Her face was bright all over. She seemed to get it. Complaining just adds to problems. Communication paves the way to problem-solving.

After lunch I was thrilled to have some of my students try this trick out on me. When I told them we were going to do centers, a girl raised her hand and began, “Mr. Weimann, we have done centers the past couple of days, and while we like them just fine, we are a little tired of them. Could we do something else instead?”

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Students might be more likely to complain when they think that their communication wouldn’t be taken seriously. We need to make sure they feel like we are listening.

“No! Keep your comments to yourself and do what you’re told!” I like kidding with my students, and this was my way of saying, “Nice job remembering my little lesson from earlier.” I was really proud of her for doing exactly what I had taught. To reward this classy kid, I made a checklist on the board of things I wanted the students to complete in order of priority; No centers. This afforded me the opportunity to walk around and help students. Also, we began a new improved football pinata for our Reading Super Bowl celebration, next Friday. It was a fun-filled, project-finishing, complain-free afternoon… all because feelings were classily communicated.

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After readers theaters, kids communicated to me the need to just veg out. This is what ensued.