Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Final Days At Desert Voices :(

So I have been wanting to do this post for over a week, but couldn't bring myself to do it. I guess it just makes it all so final. I am so happy to be moving on with our lives, but these last several years have been such an incredible adventure and journey. My little deaf daughter was taught how to speak and listen (although she chooses not to listen to me half of the time :) I thought I would recap our journey a bit. Kenzie was born and failed her newborn hearing test, but I was assured that it was perfectly normal for that to happen with coming through the birth canal and all that. So she was retested 12 days later and they said she was absolutely fine. So I never thought about her hearing again. Kenz was delayed in all areas, she couldn't sit up by herself, crawl, or walk. I was very concerned and each time I went to the pediatrician he would say, she is fine, don't compare her to your son. If I wasn't holding her, I was on the ground with her helping manipulate her arms and legs trying to teach her to crawl. She was a very visually expressive child and watched me all the time, I never in a million years dreamed she was deaf. As the months went by, I was more and more uneasy about how behind she seemed to be. I finally found out she was deaf when she was 16 months old after banging pots and pans above her head with no response, that was so hard, but relieving at the same time. At this point I was worried she might have autism or something because she didn't seem to understand what I was saying and she was so loud and shrieky all the time. I struggled for a long time and still to this day struggle with the guilt and disbelief that my child was deaf and I had had no idea. I mean, this was a child who was attached to my hip 24/7, she was still nursing and so dependant on me. I had sung to her hours and each day and told her a billion times how much I loved her and she had never heard any of it. I was devastated. We got her hearing aids right away and she could hear quite a bit with them, but it was like she was a newborn baby with sound, she had to learn what sound was and identify sounds different objects and people made, I could never have done it alone. I spent many nights on my knees praying for help on how to teach her. One evening after I had just prayed, I got on the computer and searched "deaf child" and I found these free videos called "Dreams Made Real", and "Dreams SPoken Here," I ordered them and got them two days later. I cried the whole time I watched as I saw these deaf children talking. I didn't really know that was possible, at least not to that extent. I saw that Phoenix had an oral deaf education school and I jumped right on that. I started making the 6 hour round trip drive once a week for her hour of speech therapy. Carla Zimmerman was her speech therapist and she worked with Kenz and myself. She taught me how to talk and interact with MaKenzie and I started doing what she did during our sessions at home with Kenz during the week. Carla was such an amazing SLP, if you could see her work, you would be in awe. Kenz took off, her word list grew and grew and I knew we would need to move so she could get the maximum benefit from Desert Voices. Jeremy quit his job, we sold our house, and took a leap of faith and moved up to the Phoenix area, Buckeye to be exact, I still had to drive a total 94 miles a day to get her to and from school, but it was so worth it. With her hearing loss being the severe-profound range, she couldn't hear high frequency sounds, so she recieved a cochlear implant on St. Patricks day in 2005, she had just turned 2. It was amazing how her implant helped her move along so much faster and her speech became so much more intelligable. Unfortunantely her implant failed right before she turned five and they opened her back up and put a brand new implant in. It was devastating, but she caught back up fairly fast. Anyways, when she turned three and started going to school all day everyday, I was offered a teaching position in the Birth-to-Three program. It was such a blessing, I learned so much from being a teacher there. It was such an amazing job. I can honestly say I LOVED my job, every second of it, even on days when we were potty training 5 kids and days when toddlers got the flu and puked all over me, it was just the most amazing thing to be a part of, helping a child learn to speak when most of the world says it isn't possible. Anyways, Kenzie's teachers while at Desert voices were:
Birth-to-Three= Miss Tracie and Miss Dana
Speech Therapists=Carla, Tracie, Maggie, Eleni
Preschool year 1=Carrie
Preschool year 2=Cammie
Preschool year 3=Emily
Discovery Room Teachers= Miss Beth, Miss Lisa, and Miss Michelle
These ladies have no idea how wonderful they are and how indebted I will always be to them for helping Makenzie learn how to talk. Most of you know she graduated from Desert Voices and just finished summer school. Leaving there that final day was so bitter sweet for both of us. She was so sad to leave her best friend Tyler. They have been together in school since they were 18 months old. She always tells me that when she grows up she wants to marry Tyler. OK well now that I have gotten all emotional again, I will close this long post. I put some pictures from our time at D.V. From when she first began with speech therapy as a baby to her last day of school. THANK YOU DESERT VOICES!


Miche said...

aw! I didn't expect to cry today! What an amzing journey. . .I didn't even know all those details! I am going to miss MaKenzie! I won't have near as many hilarious stories! Thanks for showing me how to be such a good mommy! I pray the Lord continues to bless you and your sweet family!

Tina said...

MaKenzie is incredibly blessed and lucky to have you as a mom.

Channon said...

I was so touched by her story....will you email me? storybookingbyyou@gmail.com ...I have something I want to give to you.

Angela said...

Hey Ali! I'm glad that you were able to take Kenz to school in Phoenix even though we missed you. Her progress has been amazing. :)

Jeff and Ang said...

What an amazing journey you have had!! You are such a strong woman and a wonderful mother!!! I'm glad you were both able to get so much out of this and that Kenzie was able to make such progress. I'm sure you both have touched more people than you realize!!

Bill and Shelly said...

Thank you for visiting our blog. Our daughter was implanted in 2005 and had her 2nd implant in April of this year. Allison will be heading to K next month in a totally oral, mainstreamed classroom. I can't believe how well she has done.
CI's are an amazing thing. What would their world be like without them?
I look forward to hearing about how your daughter does in K-maybe we can share stories.

kristal said...

Wow, she pretty much grew up there. What a blessing that you got to be there with her. I agree with ?tina? She is so blessed to have such an awesome mom. And I KNOW you are Ali! I want you to teach me how to make my kids as sweet as yours!