AVT meet-up in Plymouth

July 10, 2012

We had a little Meet-Up at Nelson Park in Plymouth today.  It was so great to see everyone together!

New water-resistant cochlear implant processors make splashing even more fun!

Making new friends



Old buddies


A little baby love!



Contagious Compassion

June 28, 2012

In Auditory Verbal, we are working toward developing listening skills and language processing so that our kids can make it in a demanding Hearing world.  So, for an AVT “Real World” project, we decided that we would make Shoebox Gifts for the kids living in the local homeless shelter. The kids at Sound Speech & Hearing tackled this project with such a contagious compassion.  I am so proud of what they accomplished!

One of the quilts we packed for the new baby born in the shelter that week. (Courtesy of the Beloved Quilts organization)

When you have a hearing loss, the world can seem really rough sometimes.  Not all the time, just sometimes.  One of the ongoing conversations we have in our AVT sessions is about developing integrity and good character….even when you’re going through a rough patch. Every now and then, it helps to look outward at a bigger picture, as opposed to looking at your own challenges all the time.

We watched videos with stories of children and families who are homeless and how it can look different for different situations.  We discussed what it might feel like to live in a shelter and what freedoms would be taken away. We talked about how someone can lose their job and how that might lead to losing their house.  These are difficult topics, but in today’s economy, they are topics that are popping up more than ever.

Owen packing a box for a kid his age.

The nitty gritty of the project was listening hard to multi-step directions to organize about 25 boxes for 25 kids.  Here are some of the skills used in the project – (All directions were given Auditorily with an emphasis on utilizing Executive Function).

  1. Come up with a plan of action
  2. Write letters to ask for donations, and mail them.
  3. Organize the donations according to the age of the child
  4. Sort the boxes using fractions, division, and multiplication of large quantities
  5. Stack boxes in ascending and descending order according to age and gender
  6. Deliver the boxes to the shelter.  (Discussion of protecting the privacy of the children we see at the shelter).

Items for one of the baby boxes.

The take away was triple-fold.  The kids learned so many new skills required to tackle any big project including doing this again on their own.  They did it all using “Listening First” technique.  And they embraced themes that require empathy, compassion, and giving.  Oh – and the kids at the shelter got some really great gifts!

Elizabeth listening to directions and checking off completed boxes.

Brandon Heath sings a song call Give Me Your Eyes.  “Give me Your eyes for the broken hearted.  Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.  Give me Your eyes so I can see.”  It sums up the essences of our project with lyrics I don’t want to forget.

Father’s Day

June 14, 2012

Father’s Day is fast approaching, and before I run out to Sears to buy my Dad yet another tool or gadget, I had to make sure I posted this!

Let’s face it.  AVT Dads rock.  They just do.  Whether they are distinguished gentlemen or big burley tough guys, they jump right into a world they never saw coming – the AVT session.   They selflessly sing songs about fishies, butterflies or cars that go BEEP-BEEP….just to teach their child how to do it.  They “craft” experience book pages each week…..some even better than Martha Stewart.  They make sure hearing aids and cochlear implants are working everyday.  They construct forts in the back yard just to have another cool place to read together.  They put on silly costumes and read Fancy Nancy, just so their child can understand the word “fancy.”  They are the ones out in the backyard with their kid each night to practice all the soccer terminology they might encounter on the field.   But the best thing AVT Dad’s do is to stand right by their child and say, “We’re in this together.  You and me.”

Here’s a picture of me and my dad.  For those of you who know me, you can see that not much has changed.  I was about 4 years old in this pic, and my dad was as old as I am today.

So, without further adieu, here is one of my FAVORITE stories.  I couldn’t wait for Father’s day to come to share it!

“Coolest Dad in the Universe”

by Angie Ward-Kucer

He was 50 years old when I was born, and a “Mr. Mom” long before anyone had a name for it. I didn’t know why he was home instead of Mom, but I was young and the only one of my friends who had their dad around. I considered myself very lucky

Dad did so many things for me during my grade-school years. He convinced the school bus driver to pick me up at my house instead of the usual bus stop that was six blocks away. He always had my lunch ready for me when I came home-usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was shaped for the season. My favorite was at Christmas. The sandwich would be sprinkled with green sugar and cut in the shape of a tree.

As I got a little older and tried to gain my independence, I wanted to move away from those “childish” signs of his love. But he wasn’t going to give up.

In high school and no longer able to go home for lunch, I began taking my own. Dad would get up a little early and make it for me. I never knew what to expect. The outside of the sack might be covered with his rendering of a mountain scene (it became his trademark) or a heart inscribed with “Dad-n-Angie” in its center. Inside there would be a napkin with that same heart or an “I love you.” Many times he would write a joke or a riddle, such as “Why don’t they ever call it a momsicle instead of a popsicle?” He always had some silly saying to make me smile and let me know that he loved me.

I used to hide my lunch so no one would see the bag or read the napkin, but that didn’t last long. One of my friends saw the napkin one day, grabbed it, and passed it around the lunchroom. My face burned with embarrassment. To my astonishment, the next day all my friends were waiting to see the napkin. From the way they acted, I think they all wished they had someone who showed them that kind of love. I was so proud to have him as my father. Throughout the rest of my high school years, I received those napkins, and still have a majority of them.

And still it didn’t end. When I left home for college (the last one to leave), I thought the messages would stop. But my friends and I were glad that his gestures continued.

I missed seeing my dad every day after school and so I called him a lot. My phone bills got to be pretty high. It didn’t matter what we said; I just wanted to hear his voice. We started a ritual during that first year that stayed with us. After I said goodbye he always said, “Angie?”

“Yes, Dad?” I’d reply. “I love you.” “I love you, too, Dad.”

I began getting letters almost every Friday. The front-desk staff always knew who the letters were from. The return address said “The Hunk.” Many times the envelopes were addressed in crayon, and along with the enclosed letters were usually drawings of our cat and dog, stick figures of him and Mom, and if I had been home the weekend before, of me racing around town with friends and using the house as a pit stop. He also had his mountain scene and the heart-encased inscription, Dad-n-Angie.

The mail was delivered every day right before lunch, so I’d have his letters with me when I went to the cafeteria. I realized it was useless to hide them because my roommate was a high school friend who knew about his napkins. Soon it became a Friday afternoon ritual. I would read the letters, and the drawing and envelope would be passed around.

It was during this time that Dad became stricken with cancer. When the letters didn’t come on Friday, I knew that he had been sick and wasn’t able to write. He used to get up at 4:00 am so he could sit in the quiet house and do his letters. If he missed his Friday delivery, the letters would usually come a day or two later. But they always came. My friends used to call him “Coolest Dad in the Universe.” And one day they sent him a card bestowing that title, signed by all of them. I believe he taught all of us about a father’s love. I wouldn’t be surprised if my friends started sending napkins to their children. He left an impression that would stay with them and inspire them to give their own children their expression of their love.

Throughout my four years of college, the letters and phone calls came at regular intervals. But then the time came when I decided to come home and be with him because he was growing sicker, and I knew that our time together was limited. Those were the hardest days to go through. To watch this man, who always acted so young, age past his years. In the end he didn’t recognize who I was and would call me the name of a relative he hadn’t see in many years. Even though I knew it was due to his illness, it still hurt that he couldn’t remember my name.

I was alone with him in his hospital room a couple of days before he died. We held hands and watched TV. As I was getting ready to leave, he said, “Angie?”

“Yes, Dad?”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too, Dad.”