at the beach in Santa Monica; photo courteous of Leah
Wow! Today marks 19 months that Lucas has been "hearing"! I just noticed at the top of the blog. It's been worth every moment.
I wanted to write down some final thoughts about our experience at the John Tracy Clinic this summer. First off, I can report that my crying episodes have just about stopped. I think after a week we are finally back into our home routine, and I am less sad for Lucas. It actually makes me smile when he mentions his friends & teachers, as opposed to cry. Big step. Lucas has taken almost an entire week to re-adjust to east coast time. I think next time we fly to the west coast we'll be taking the red eye back.
This past week I've had the opportunity to let our JTC adventure sink in. I've gotten to tell others about our magical 3 weeks in LA. I've also gotten to see others' reactions to Lucas's progress over the past month. I didn't really expect Lucas to make big gains in only 3 weeks... but, he did. Here's what I've noticed:
1. His sentences are coming out more complete, and now include many more verbs. He's using verbs like have, want, need, to express his needs. He's also using 4 & 5 word sentences consistently. I think our favorite sentence in LA was at the aquarium when he said, "Come back orange Nemo, please." We counted the number of words on our fingers right then and there, and wrote the phrase down because we were so excited.
2. His use of noun articles like the, a has increased. Where he used to only say "open door," he now says, "open the door."
3. His expressive vocabulary has increased tremendously. The deliberate exposure to vocabulary in the classroom coupled with some great outings to the beach, zoo, aquarium, children's museum, science center, etc., all really improved his vocabulary. We will continue to provide him with language-rich outings.
4. He sings all the time now! Before we left, he would "sing" itsy bitsy spider, happy birthday and that was about it. I would venture to say that he learned about 20 new songs/rhymes, and he just belts them out whenever. I'm glad that I learned them too, so I can help facilitate them. The song packets & CDs they sent home with us help a lot too. When I ask him what he wants to sing, he always answers "slippery fish." I think it's my favorite too.
5. His social skills have improved. I've always thought that Lucas had pretty good social skills, but after spending all day long for 3 weeks straight with the same 6 kids, he really learned how to interact with peers of his age. I see him initiate little "conversations" with his friends, and even random kids at the playground. Today I heard him tell a little girl "show me" and grab her hand to lead her where he wanted to. I was so thrilled with the age-appropriateness of his behavior. Social skills are often tough for kids with hearing loss, but he really seems to be thriving.
6. Lucas has transformed from a toddler to a preschooler right before our eyes. He made tremendous growth in 3 weeks in terms of separating from us. I believe it was a huge step for him, and will help him in the coming years with entering school. I believe that JTC taught us to interact with him more as a preschooler and less as a tot, which will in turn encourage more sophisticated language usage.
7. Lucas's use of spontaneous, creative responses to questions has appeared. His most amazing SLP asked him on Friday, "Where's your car?" She was referring to a little motorized bike we have inside. He thought about it for a moment and responded, "It's outside." She then asked, "What do you do with your car?" He paused and answered, "I drive it." Conversational exchanges are definitely emerging. When we first started to work on questions & answers with him, we taught him some rote phrases. Q: "How are you?" A: "I'm fine." Q: "What's your name?" A: "I'm Lucas." Q: "How old are you?" A: "I'm 2." Now he's answering questions spontaneously.
Besides getting Lucas a cochlear implant, I believe that spending 3 weeks at the John Tracy Clinic was the very best decision we have made for our family. It brought us closer together, and gave us a real sense of empowerment that we will be the biggest factor in Lucas's outcome. We have so many tools to use as a result of the program, and we've made many life-long friends from all over the world. We will be forever grateful to JTC, and their dedicated, professional, hard-working, very giving staff. It is a magical place there. I'd like to bottle it up and carry it with me everywhere. If you can make it happen for your family, do it. You will not be disappointed.
So much for an end to crying episodes.