Ears, Me, More & Homework

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I know the title of this post doesn’t seem like it makes much sense, but it actually does if you’re living a life similar to ours, lol. As many of you know, Kyle is speech delayed and is receiving services from Early Intervention. The past few weeks have been ALL ABOUT taking steps to help Kyle communicate and eventually talk.

earEar tubes. Many parents hear those words and their first reaction is “NO, we won’t be putting our child through surgery to avoid some ear infections”. Others hear it and feel fear. Surgery for a small child is not a matter to take lightly, but ear tubes are most often suggested when a child experiences a large number of ear infections (usually 3 or more in 6 months), when they have fluid behind the ear drum, or when they are late talking – which can be a side effect of having many undetected ear infections. Children can have an ear infection and we parents may not even be aware of it. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they don’t; sometimes there’s a fever, sometimes there isn’t. So, even though your child may have only had 2 diagnosed ear infections in a year, chances are pretty good that they’ve had more than that – especially if they have teeny, tiny ear canals like both my boys.

To ease some fears about what ear tube surgery entails, let me give you some details. You will be told not to let your child eat from midnight the night before surgery so there are no fears of them vomiting while they are under anesthesia. Your child is put to sleep (mine were both knocked out while in my arms, then I was sent to the waiting room), a small incision is made in the ear drum, tubes are inserted into the incision, and your child is given medicine to help them wake up. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes, and is definitely harder on parents than it is on the child involved in most cases. Connor had ear tubes when he was little, so when they were recommended for Kyle, I had no qualms about agreeing to the procedure – especially since he’s not talking yet. I’m sure most of you remember swimming or being in the bath tub and how funny things sound while you’re under water – for a child with fluid behind the ear drums, that’s what things sound like ALL THE TIME. Interestingly enough, when we are very little, our ear canals tip towards the inner ear, and shift as we get older so they tip away from the inner ear. (Just learned this, but I’m not sure from where.)

signlanguageKyle had ear tube surgery on May 15th, and it went perfectly. His reaction to someone speaking to him is much better than it had been previously, and he’s expressing himself vocally and babbling to himself far more often. All good steps to actually talking. This is were the “me” and “more” in this post’s title come in. We’ve (read: me and the Early Intervention counselors) been working with him extensively to get him to use signs to say these two words and just to get him familiar with words in general. He’s doing really well and will sign “me” by putting his open hand on his chest with just a light touch on his hand as a reminder. The “more” sign – which is basically bunching the fingers of each hand and touching the tips to each other is a different story. He will point to what he wants, but no “more” signing yet unless we make him do it. He will also shake his head no, and say “a duh” for all done. He said “da-da” clear as a bell the other day after he fell and was reaching for his dad – it’s the first time he’s ever said it so clearly!

homeworkAnd…here’s where the “homework” part of this post’s title comes in. As in MY homework. I have a ton! Not just for Kyle, either – my classes just started back up on Tuesday, so I’ve got school homework too. Apparently, part of why Kyle isn’t talking yet is because he is a sensory learner. We all learn using our senses, but he needs to have specific senses stimulated in order to get the most out of an activity. So my homework for this week is to read 4 chapters of my textbook, write 2 discussion posts and responses to classmates’ posts, a quiz, a written assignment, work a 10 minute activity with Kyle in every 2 hours throughout the day (some of these can be accomplished at mealtime as chewing, etc. are sensory activities), take photos of things we interact with regularly in order to limit his choices to 2 and to create a before/then board, and make a list of which activities work/don’t work in order to establish a schedule of activities for him. Oh, and I was prescribed Wellbutrin to help me quit smoking and am limiting my smoking by timing them a little farther apart every day – so my timer is getting in lots of overtime!

I’ll continue to post about some of the sensory activities we’re doing and Kyle’s progress as we go along.


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