Growing Up Fast

As usual, I pop on here to see what’s been going on, only to find that it has been an awfully long time since we last posted. This is, in part at least, due to the manic summer months and Alice’s Mummy’s retirement last week. It’s all down to me now – gulp. That said, it means that now, both between home and school, Alice has the attention she deserves. I’m not sure how we got this far really, with Claire working full time and me starting a business, whilst dealing with the day-to-day needs of two children (including Alice’s various trips to hospitals and AV).

Anyway, here we are. The new school year is now well underway and, as with most things, Alice has carried on and taken everything in her stride. Her language seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds – my favourite from the other day was “I can see Mrs.Mouse in Joseph’s window” – not bad given where we were just 12 short months ago.

The new school year brings its challenges too. Alice’s assessment for her statement has now taken place. Various independent assessments by doctors and educational psychologists, coupled with reports from AV, Alice’s TOD and us have now been submitted. The panel meets on the 20th of this month – here’s hoping.

In addition, Alice growing up means she is getting to try so many new and wonderful things at school. She now has Ballet shoes and loves dancing. Her class also swim at school once a week. This was a concept which terrified her teachers. What do you do with a deaf child in a swimming pool? We have never wanted Alice to miss out on anything. She is confident in the water, but the restrictions of her electronic technology mean that it can’t go in the pool with her – ergo she can’t hear. Not wanting to be left behind, we spent hours googling our way round the internet before Mummy came up with a solution. Thanks, in part at least, to our friends across the pond, we seem to have a system which now allows Alice to wear her processor in the water without damaging it. She can hear and enjoy swimming alongside all her other friends. It’s not perfect, but it does the job and, until the TICI comes along, is probably the best we can muster.

How do we do it? I can’t recommend this to all of you. We are lucky that we own Alice’s processor, thus we have it insured against damage. Most of you will have kit that is owned by your implant centre, so probably best to run it by them first. Anyhow, it essentially consists of a watertight bag, made to military specifications, that Alice wears under her swimming hat. This allows the magnet to still adhere to her head and for sound to be picked up through both the bag and the hat (fortunately Alice has to wear a hat anyway as part of her uniform). The hat then holds everything in place. It’s a bit ungainly and involves rather a lot of trial and error to locate the magnet, but Alice happily tells us when it is in the right place and off she goes. We are very fortunate to have a pool at home that has allowed us to practise this endlessly. Day-to-day, it is Alice’s TA, Sam, who has the dubious pleasure of fumbling around with it. So far so good it seems. We will put a video up as soon as we get round to taking one so you can see. I would recommend, if you do try this, checking the bag weekly with some tissue paper inside, just to check there are no leaks, and also to replace the bag relatively frequently – they are as cheap as chips and you can buy them in bulk.

It works for us anyway – bags can be found here: http://www.loksak.com/products/aloksak

You’ll need to use rechargeable, rather than the zinc air batteries as they will stop working in the airless environment. Beyond this, good luck, but remember this is done at your own risk!

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