Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Article from UTD

Speech Program Benefits Kids with Cochlear Implants

Oct. 6, 2009
For decades, cochlear implants have made it possible for children who are deaf to enter a hearing world. But hearing is just one piece of the communications puzzle.
Thanks to speech-therapy programs at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, children with cochlear implants are not only hearing the words that surround them, but also speaking them.
The center recently launched the Cochlear-implant Language Advancement Program (CLAP). The program is for children ages 18 months to 3 years who have been diagnosed with hearing loss, have received a cochlear implant and have language delays. Read More...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bring It On...I Heard That

So here I was, a junior at UT Dallas, when I got my first pair of hearing aids.  Yes, I had gone back to school, several semesters before meeting the folks at TRC (Texas Rehabilitation Commission).  As I mentioned before, these are the guys responsible for the funding of my first amplified hearing devices.

I headed back to school in 1998 when I realized that I couldn't babysit drunks forever.  Back then, I worked at a shabby little dive called J.R. Pockets, a hole in the wall pool hall where I witnessed grown men beating the crap out of each other, blood spurting across my bar from a throat slit just a few feet from my face, people pissing and puking on themselves, kids skipping school, and a whole bunch of things I won't say anything about.  Not a pretty sight, but I met some decent folks there and some real good friends.  And when I could slap 600 big ones into the bank on a Saturday morning, show up to work in cutoffs, flip-flops, spaghetti straps, and no bra, well, life was good.

I was working at JR's when I decided I wanted to be a teacher.  There was a group of teenagers that skipped school to play free pool at 2:00 every day; and, although I did call the truancy officer and the local high school on more than one occasion, it was one of the little girls that showed up almost daily that inspired me to return to my education and do something for kids like her.  I got to know her when she saw me reading literary classics behind the bar through a haze of stale cigarette smoke.  She wanted to bum a fag and a free coke; I said no to the cigarette and yes to the drink.  Then, she asked me if I knew anything about Ethan Fromm and it just so happened that I did.  So she brought her school work to the bar and each day I tutored her.  If she didn't pass the Senior English class she was currently failing, she wasn't going to graduate.  We made a deal; if she would go to class, I would help her pass.  I enrolled at NCTC that semester with the goal of becoming an English teacher and she passed with a B.

To fund my education, I picked up a second bartending job at a short lived college joint on the other side of town, Gooey Louies.  I worked 5 days at JRs, 3 nights at Gooey's, and fit in school on the nights I had off.  My hours were 10 AM-3 AM on the days I worked doubles.  And 10 AM-9 PM on school days; I always picked up a weekend shift at Gooey's as well.  I studied during the slow hours at JRs and I ended up taking everything NCTC offered towards my degree plan.  Finished up there with a 4.0, and yeah, I did it in mute.

The Sound of Music

...rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace. ~Plato

Like any normal person, I enjoy the sound of music and like Plato, I believe that it touches us in ways that make us better.  When I was five, we moved into a little pink house on a hill and my father set up his Bose stereo system in my room.  I also had an old blue record player that was most likely my favorite and most used possession. My house was never really filled with the sound of music growing up but my room was.  My parents gave me two records that I listened to relentlessly.  One was a Strawberry Shortcake album of compilations.  It was illustrated with scenes from that sweet strawberry landscape.  The other was a Pac Man album that was illustrated in shades of blue and scenes from Pac Man or maybe it was Mrs. Pacman; I don't remember.  But it was my favorite.  It was my first introduction to Pat Benatar and Joan Jett.

In 1984, my parents gifted me with my first walkman.  It was red and came with Michael Jackson's, Michael Jackson. "Here comes my summer love, girl I won't forget you..." I was eight.

In the fifth grade, I embarked on the journey of musical training with the fabulous flute-a-phone and the next year, I began learning to play the clarinet.  I learned to read music and understand the basic theory involved, but when the high school band director tried to help me tune my instrument years later, I was clueless.  By the time I was 15, I could no longer distinguish between the notes or keys.  I gave it my best shot, but either I got lucky or he gave up.  When he tried to force me to play a different instrument, I blasted the school fight song as loud as I could through every piece until I finally refused to learn anything else and then I quit.  I sold my clarinet for $100 and never looked back.

Have you ever heard me sing?  Let's hope that's a negative!  I cannot sing on key.  I can't hear the difference; it all sounds the same to me.  I've always wanted to sing, to shout my praises in church, to sing my daughter to sleep, to sing my heart out while sitting at a red light, to join a group of Christmas carolers on snowy Christmas Eve, but it's just something I can't do.  Don't get me wrong, I still sing to my daughter; she doesn't mind my musical disaster.  But Lillian, like her father, seems to have a gift for music.  She can tap out rhythms and hit the right notes to songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the ABCs.  I didn't even know the ABCs had notes and I only know she can do it because my husband tells me.

I love musicals and always wanted to perform in one, The Sound of Music, Little Shop of Horrors, Chicago, being a few of my favorites.  Seeing them in the theater is difficult for me.  I can't necessarily make out the lyrics but I still like to go.  I haven't tried it yet with my new Phonaks; maybe I'll do that soon.

After being fitted with my first set of hearing aids, a simple of pair of analogs built in a laboratory at American Hearing Labs in Carrollton, I practically ran to my car and cranked up the stereo.  The first wave of notes to hit my ears blew me away.  I could hear the rich timber of a number of various instruments as I flipped from station to station trying out the sounds of different musical genres.  The wind blew through them as  I hastened through the parking lot; birds chirped in the crype mertyls lining the sidewalk; the spin of my tires on the asphalt was overwhelming.  Within a few hours, my head was spinning and I suffered a mind numbing headache from over stimulation.  For the first few weeks, I could only wear the hearing aids for a couple of hours a day, slowly increasing the time until I was used to the sound of music.

What are these fabulous Phonaks I keep raving about?

Check out the Phonak website.  I have the Audeo Yes, with the My Pilot remote control and the Icom blue tooth receiver.  More on this later.