Monday, December 11, 2006

You know its working when...

We've been experiencing an avalanche of verbal dexterity from Tom this past few weeks - all of it the sort of stuff that kids who are two-and-a-bit do and their parents think is the cutest ever (because it is) - and all of it music to our ears.

Tom is our only child - our first go at this parenting lark so I often wonder whether we would be as agog, as obsessed anyway but, with the importance of his language development being so sharply focused in our minds because of his deafness, every little step feels like a major landmark to be celebrated. So here are a few anecdotes recorded for posterity.

I've got into the habit of asking Tom what he's been up to at the childminder's. Last week he told me very clearly:

'Tom-Tom walking holding Karen's hand. Louisa-May in the buggy'.

How much information is that? Not much of a thrilling narrative I grant you but it stuck in his mind and was the most important thing to tell me when I asked. I checked with Karen; it was all true.

Tom doesn't always stick to the literal however, and that makes following the thread of his conversation a little more challenging. Last week, completely unprompted, he named his hands 'Harry' and 'Trevor' after his two favourite cuddly toys. It wasn't a one off either; Harry and Trevor have made subsequent appearances at mealtimes, helping Tom with his fork and spoon as necessary. They even have to have chairs pulled up for them - which makes me think they're evolving into fully fledged imaginary friends. I'll keep you posted about their movements.

One of the pieces of advice from AV Therapy that has stayed with me relates to the importance of staying in Tom's 'head space' - as a parent you can usually tell from context what your toddler is thinking about and, therefore, likely to be saying (hence why parents understand their offspring when everyone else thinks its nonsense). With Tom its getting less straightforward. Admittedly 90% of the time it's trains, cars and/or 'airplanes' but that other 10% can take us shooting off anywhere.

The night before last, for example. We were reading a Bob the Builder book at bed time. Bob was chatting to his completely platonic friend, assistant and project manager Wendy across a double page spread. Tom started to turn the page and it creased in a little overlapping the facing pages,

'Bob and Wendy kissing' and he burst into a fit of giggles.... and repeated the fold over and over, as we both giggled merrily to ourselves. I think all the time he spends around little girls at the childminder's might have something to do with that one.

The list goes on...suffice it to say we're as proud and as obsessed with everything our child says and, maybe by writing it here I won't feel the need to tell absolutely everyone I meet.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Catching Up

I have been remiss of late so far as updates here are concerned; it's not as if nothing has happened - quite the reverse which is why there's not enough time left over for blogging.

Firstly - Tom

Although it is regarded as almost scandalous to say it in certain circles we often 'forget' Tom is deaf. The bright blue coils stuck to the sides of his head are still there (complete with a picture of a tiger on one and a monkey on the other) of course so when I say 'forget' what I mean is that we don't have to make any special considerations when we are talking to him. He repeats pretty much everything that is said, to him or otherwise, and his understanding is impressive and subjective. With his potty-mouthed uncle staying with us at the moment, that makes for some risque situations but, luckily, Tom hasn't cussed at the vicar just yet. He's at the age where he often chooses to ignore what is said to him because it isn't in line with his desires - the fact is that most of our daily challenges are based on him being two rather than being deaf.

And that is a very cool place to be.

Sure, if we look objectively at the pattern of our lives now, there are plenty of 'new' elements that make things less straightforward; from simple things like ensuring batteries are charged, processors are tested and coils staying on all the way to the scheduling of appointments and working with professionals. But, just like everything, you get used to your new reality and, hey, raising a kid brings with it all manner of new skills and situations; by thinking about our situation as just an extension of that it becomes much more managable 'head-wise'.

Claims and forms and appeals and stuff

The good news is that the DWP came through with the Disability Living Allowance for Tom after an appeal which included contributions from the National Deaf Children's Society, (one of) our Teachers of the Deaf and a particularly passionate plea written by Nik which managed to stay just the right side of vitriolic while making it plain that we didn't appreciate being made to jump through all these ridiculous hoops while others, in the exact same situation, received payment after the first application.

There are very good reasons why the DLA isn't handed out without consideration and a certain level of proof but the inconsistency which seems to dog all our dealings with public services can get a little wearing.

As for the greater issue of the ongoing costs of Tom's left implant: we have yet to hear from the Healthcare Commission, who are conducting a review of the PCT's decision. When I say 'conducting a review' I mean ' leaving in a pile of other appeals until their overstretched staff can get to it'. Probably.

Since the first appeal Rushcliffe PCT have disappeared; merged with five others to form some super Nottinghamshire Teaching PCT (this is an approximation - it makes for a long letterhead whatever it is). Our GP has kept up the requests and the funding situation is set to be reviewed by some august panel.... so more watching of this space is required.

So...there's a lot of shrieking going on downstairs. Tom's imagination and sense of fun is growing exponentially. He also has an occasionally abstract view of the world - moments ago he decided that a discarded satsuma skin was an umbrella and that it was raining in the dining room so it needed to be on his head. That is what AV Therapy does to you - and it keeps us all marvellously entertained.