Thursday, June 19, 2008
Part of the purpose of our trip last week was to get 4 of 8 into her amazing therapist and audiologist at Hearts for Hearing in Oklahoma City. Hearts for Hearing will soon boast the largest certified Auditory Verbal Therapy group in the world. We have had the privilege of watching the practice grow from a couple of visionaries in Teresa Caraway and Joanna Smith in a small suite of offices to a vibrant, bustling facility and faculty meeting the needs of hearing impaired patients through appropriate technology and individualized therapy.
Wendy DeMoss is 4 of 8's Auditory Verbal Therapist and has been an integral part of our family life for over six years. She and 4 of 8 had several years of weekly one-on-one therapy. One of the most difficult things about our multiple moves over the last few years was that we no longer could meet with Wendy face to face each week. I still drove hundreds of miles every few weeks to get in time for therapy, but it was different than having access to Wendy every week. Thanks to the growth in technology, we now meet once a week via Skype. It is a model that would not work had we not had our initial time with Wendy, but it is a venue that now provides a platform for monitoring 4 of 8's progress and developing new strategies and goals for her.
Jace Wolfe is 4 of 8's audiologist and we can't brag enough on him. He has tirelessly worked with 4 of 8 through the years, always exploring and researching the latest technology and techniques that better facilitate her needs. He compassionately saw us through a major drop in 4 of 8's hearing levels, which coincided with a stressful time during one of our moves. He has troubleshot issues with ear molds, FM systems, and the Accidental Hearing Aid and the Washing Machine Episode of '07 (the happy outcome for which I list Whirlpool Duet as my favorite appliance--but that's another story....) He is a man of integrity and a sincere OU Sooner fan, all of which gives us supreme confidence in his opinions and expertise.
We went through some standardized testing with 4 of 8 on this latest trip and are developing our goals for the year. I am reminded again of what this process of language development is like. I can remember as a child seeing for the first time a film with time lapse photography, the subject a bean which sprouts almost magically as the frames of the film show each stage. I found the process fascinating, how something that seems common and mundane becomes almost magical and miraculous as the effort and process are revealed. So it is with 4 of 8's language. It is almost as if we have taken that invisible process of language acquisition, that development that occurs so easily and seamlessly in most children, and we have slowed it down, frame by frame. We had to work so hard on learning the label for items, learning that the word 'ball' means that round, red object rolling on the floor. We then had to learn that the object ball has attributes and functions, that this particular ball is red, that it is for throwing and rolling. And in this frame by frame experience, the true miracle of language acquisition is revealed. Common rules of syntax, the rhythm of grammar, the techniques you and I picked up in the first five years of our lives, must be broken down and taught in a purposeful, deliberate way to someone who from earliest memory has struggled to receive auditory signal. And in seeing it unfolded at a slower pace, the miracle of it all is revealed.
I have called language acquisition one of our most 'common' miracles. All it takes is living with someone who doesn't have language to begin to realize what power a word has. 4 of 8 couldn't tell us her favorite color, couldn't tell us her fears, couldn't tell us about herself, until language was unlocked within her. The house I am sitting in, the desk I am writing at, the items in the room in which I now sit, all took form first in the container of a word, a word describing an idea, an idea giving way to a prototype, a prototype emerging into an object. Frame by frame. Thoughts, thesis, theologies, all held in the holy vessels of words. Think about it. Watch the time lapse film of language go from mundane to miracle. And two more words from our recent trip, two words which are simple, but for us, mean so much. Wendy and Jace, thank you.