K.L.s Wondering Mind

Location: Des Moines, Washington, United States

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Speech Text

I'm putting Rachel's speech in a different blog post, because I don't want to make the other one any bigger than it is.

Hi. My name is Rachel Larsen. I am 11 years old and I am in sixth grade at Illahee Middle School, in Federal Way. I am deaf and I have two cochlear implants. I have been mainstreamed since second grade. Before that, I was at North West School for Hearing Impaired Children. I liked NW School, but it was a long bus ride. I rode on a school bus for over an hour each way. After I was mainstreamed, I had an interpreter in second and third grade, but now I don’t. I am doing really well without needing the interpreter any more. At NWSFHIC, They use Total Communication with Signing Exact English. Signing Exact English is different from American Sign Language. Signing Exact English has signs for every word, suffix, prefix and past tense. ASL changes the word order, and uses the signs themselves to convey meaning. SEE does that too, but uses all the words, exactly as we do with spoken English.

I got spinal meningitis when I was a baby and lost all my hearing, so my mom and dad decided to get me a cochlear implant. I had normal hearing for almost 7 months, then no hearing for about 7 months. After I lost my hearing, my parents started using Signing Exact English with me. They chose SEE so that when I got my implant, I could see and hear the same words at the same time. I got my first cochlear implant two weeks after I turned one year old. They continued to sign and speak to me for several years. It helped me learn to speak faster. Seeing and hearing the words together made it much easier for me. Today, I don’t use sign much, but it is helpful when I have my implants off. I also use sign language with the other deaf kids at school. Illahee has a deaf program, but we are all mainstreamed with the other hearing kids. I got my second implant in December of 2008, one year ago. My right cochlea is filled with bone, so the implant wasn’t nearly as easy to put in, and it doesn’t work as well as my left one. But it has made it much easier for me to hear in noisy places, I hear at farther distances, and I can locate where sound is coming from way better than before.

The implants work really well, and I like them a lot. I can plug my CD player directly into them and listen to music. I can also plug in an FM system the teacher uses with a microphone. That way I can hear the teacher even when their back is turned or they are far away.

There are two parts to the implants. The internal part is put into my cochlea surgically. The external part is called the speech processor. It turns sound into electronic signals. The round coil on my head has a magnet in the middle and transmits the signal. Just under my skin, underneath the coil, is a receiver plate, and it also has a magnet in the middle. The magnets stick together. The signals from the processor get transmitted from the coil to the receiver plate like radio waves, then down into the electrode array that is in my cochlea. The sound then gets transmitted to my auditory nerve. The auditory nerve takes the signal to the hearing center in my brain, just like it does with hearing people.

When I first got implanted, I had to get the implant mapped. A map is the programming that tells the implant how loud to make each sound. It has to start very quiet, and slowly get louder. I had a new map weekly at first. Now I get my map checked once or twice a year. It usually doesn’t change anymore though. I also had to go to speech therapy every week. Actually it should be called language therapy. We needed to teach my brain how to understand sounds and language. Most kids can simply use their ears and learn how to talk and listen. It is not as easy with the implant, so we all had to work a lot harder to make my brain understand everything. I still go to speech therapy twice a month, to help me learn to hear with my new right implant.

My mom is here with me, and she is going to talk about how hearing works, what the implant costs, how I lost my hearing and why she and my dad decided to get it for me. We will also answer questions. So here is my mom.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rachel's Visit to ASL Class

Rachel and I visited her cousin's highschool ASL class. Below is a video of her speech.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays Everyone!