Filed Under (Learning Language/AVT) by Kel on 23-02-2011

Discrimination of sound is always a focus with a child with cochlear implants. Heck, it’s true of any toddler to be honest, it’s just a bit more of a focus with a CI kid. Danny is learning to identify pictures in books, and I’ve noticed he still mixes up things like “dog” and “frog.” He doesn’t talk, so he doesn’t say them mixed, but a lot of 2 year olds mix consonants all the time. To help Danny focus on a bit of listening, and helping discriminate subtle differences, I was given a suggestion of filling some bottles with a couple different objects and seeing what kind of noises they make.

I grabbed some empty bottles, washed them out, let them dry, pulled off the labels, and got to business! The first round was going to be beans, coins, cereal, puff balls, and snow. (Yes, snow. There was lots of it at the time!) Since I have a box chalk full of beans, I grabbed it to borrow some for the bottle project.

That got my boys’ attention, and suddenly, we had a whole other activity going!

I never did fill a bottle full of snow, but we spent a whole lot of time with the beans! I didn’t exactly have the set up I would have planned if I was going to do this with the boys; usually the bean box means a blanket on the living room floor to pick up all the strays. Since I was just standing at the kitchen counter with a bottle and a bean box, when the boys jumped me, the beans went everywhere. I had beans in the sink and on the stove, beans all over the floor and a few in the fridge. I’m still finding beans a week or two later!

But man, did the boys enjoy it.

I did too. We played with funnels and beans and spoons and scoops and generally had a blast. Eric used the funnel as a telescope and Danny stuck it on his head, they tried doing it with the funnel and without, and there was all sorts of learning-but-not-learning going on. And there were beans.

They love beans.

There was much tantrum to be had when we finally closed up shop.

We didn’t play with the bottles that day at all, but I don’t think that really mattered.


Filed Under (Learning Language/AVT) by Kel on 11-10-2010

For the longest time, Danny slept in the dark. It worked for him; perfect silence and lots of darkness made him an awesome sleeper as a baby. When we moved him to a toddler bed, though, I started leaving his lamp on so that he could see to play before falling asleep; I didn’t particularly want him stumbling around the room in the dark. The problem, lately, has been that he’s taken to pulling his lamp off of the little bookshelf it sits on. It’s well protected against the bulb breaking, but the poor lamp itself it taking a beating!

So we decided it was time to lose the lamp. Last night he slept with it off, and everything was just fine, so tonight when we headed up to bed I decided it was best to just remove it altogether. We went into his room in the dark, turned the lamp on, read a story, took his processors off, set them on the chest of drawers…and I unplugged the lamp to take it out with me.

In a soft, quizzical voice, Danny says, “On?”

It may have been om, it’s hard to tell when he uses that quiet voice of his, but it was pretty obvious what he meant. Every night, when we go into his room, I talk… Of course I talk. I’m always talking. “Oooh, Danny, it’s so dark! What can we do? I know, let’s turn the light on! *click* On! The light’s on! Now we can see!” Lately especially, he’s been echoing it back to me – just one of the many things he mimics. But this… Well, this was him, totally on his own with no modeling (his CIs were off!), telling me he wanted the light on. More amazingly to me, he actually uses a consonant with it; it’s not just the /o/ sound, but it definitely has an /n/ or an /m/ at the end of it.

Needless to say, I plugged the lamp back in. I moved it over to the top of the chest of drawers first, so that he couldn’t reach it, but the kid got his light on.


Filed Under (Learning Language/AVT) by Kel on 18-09-2010

Every year, the stores start to put out Halloween stuff, and for about a week I’m rolling my eyes. “Seriously, Halloween stuff? But it’s only August.” Then, September 1 rolls around, and I start to get excited. I love the pumpkins and the ghosts and the witches. I love the little bats and black cats. It’s just so much fun!

I’m a total sucker for Halloween knick knacks and trinkets and decorations. I blame my parents for this one, not that I’m complaining. My husband encourages my habit of buying decorations for around the house, and we have a totally awesome grave yard that we put out in the yard that is partially – ok, largely – his creation. We picked up a ghost for it this year and I can’t wait to put it out, though I don’t want to put it out until October is here, not necessarily because it’s too soon…but because I’m afraid if it’s up that long, it’ll get destroyed by nature or vandals or something else. I think the stuff for in the house is going to start creeping its way out soon though!

One of the great things about having kids is that I can indulge in this kind of stuff and really be a kid again myself. Eric loves it all; the more excitement I have, the more he has, and we just kind of spur each other on. What’s awesome is that Danny is getting into it too! We found this little ghost puppet the other day, and I honestly didn’t intend to buy it, but I picked it up and put it on for a minute to play with Danny a bit in the store. I justified it as a language opportunity, but really, I was just playing with a ghost puppet and cracking my 2 year old up. “Ooooooooooo…” I’d wave the puppet around a little like it was flying, the arms over its face, then pop it up at Danny and open up the arms. “BOO!”

After a couple times of this, Danny needed the puppet for himself. He grabbed it, and…

“Oooooo… OO!”

Yeah, if he picks up on something that quick, and has that much fun with it, it’s totally coming home with us. He’s scared me with it, he’s scared his dad with it, he’s scared his brother with it… Heck, he even walked over to the TV and tried to scare it with the puppet. What’s hilarious is that he’ll stand there going “ooooooooo” until his target is looking at him and obviously paying attention. I was talking to someone else at one point, and he just kept going…and going…until I finally stopped and looked at him, and then he gave this huge “OO!” and cracked up laughing.

With stuff like that, how can I not love Halloween?

(PS: There are 4 … yes, 4 … new videos on YouTube. I finally cleaned out my camcorder!)


Filed Under (Learning Language/AVT) by Kel on 14-09-2010

Yes, I went there with the blog title. Honestly, ever since I made my bean box a little over a week ago, I’ve intended to go there. So sue me.

I’ve known about bean boxes for a long time, and thought it would be a super fun thing to have for almost as long. However, it was one of the many things I never really got around to. The effort of putting it together to begin with was a deterrent, and then the idea of having to clean up afterward… Let’s just say it wasn’t something I felt like doing as a working mom. Now that I’m staying at home – let there be beans!

A bean box is one of those activities that is a gold mine for therapy purposes. The OT is obvious: sensory, scooping, pouring, and pincer grasp all in one. The language is plentiful too! I had so much to say about beans, the colors (I made sure to choose as many different colors of beans as were available), the sizes (big ones and small ones), scoop scoop scoop, pour pour pour, beans in our hands, beans falling down, beans on our arms, in the beans, out of the beans… Yeah, there was definitely no shortage of language. As for the PT, well, I’ll get to that later.

Never – and I mean never – has an activity at home captivated my children like this box filled with about $7 of beans. 40 minutes later, I had to put the box away because we were expecting someone; neither boy was ready to give it up yet! 40 minutes is like an 8 hour day for a 2 year old and a 4 year old. They started out simple, scooping beans and digging through to look for toys I’d hidden (yeah, there’s more of that language – pigs that oink and cars that beep when you dig dig dig them out), and then decided they had other ways to play.

“Eric wants to sit in the beans! Is there room for Eric to sit in the beans? Oh no, there’s no room! The box is too small!”

“Danny’s turn! Danny, tell Eric, ‘my turn!’ Aw, you’re pushing Eric… Push, push, push! It’s not nice to push, Danny. Tell him, ‘my turn!’”

(Here’s that PT – that’s a pretty good sized step for a little guy!) “Danny’s standing in the box! Look, Danny, the beans are on your feet. Do you feel them under your feet? There’s beans in your toes!”

…And then I put the box away.


Filed Under (Learning Language/AVT) by Kel on 29-08-2010

Both of my boys are pancake lovers. That’s almost too weak a word for it; the boys would both live on pancakes if I let them. Any time we go out for breakfast, Eric wants a “pancake restaurant,” and he asks for it half of the time if we go out to eat at any other time of day. Danny, well, I’ve seen him pick up a whole plate-sized pancake and attempt to shove the whole thing in his mouth.

Needless to say, we could go through a lot of them at breakfast time. I would buy one of those boxes of Eggo mini pancakes and go through it in a week. (And no, I don’t only feed them pancakes, even at breakfast… They’ll at least eat bananas with them, and Eric some sausage, but the pancakes, man… That’s what it’s all about.) That stuff gets expensive, though, when you go through it as quickly as I do. So why not make my own and freeze them?

If I’m going to make my own pancakes to freeze, though, I decided to go all out. I can hardly claim to have thought this up myself; John found the idea, and even bought the ketchup and mustard bottles to make it happen. I’m just the one that busted them out! We’ve had the idea of making shaped pancakes in our heads for quite a while, but I hadn’t quite gotten brave enough to do it. I also thought I would need some kind of special recipe, but nope… A box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix following the box’s instructions worked perfectly.

Seriously, I was surprised how easy it was.

It took a little work to get the hang of it. I’d broken out the big cast-iron griddle, but as quickly as the pancakes cooked at this size, I could only keep half of it going. I found that low heat worked best as well; otherwise, the pancakes would cook faster than I could “draw” them and you’d be able to see each individual line that I drew to fill it in.

This is definitely going to happen more often! Danny didn’t really care about the shapes, he just gobbled the pancakes as quickly as he could, but one side effect of shaping them is that I could control the size; they were small enough that I could just give them to him instead of having to cut them up. Eric, however, though they were awesome, especially the race cars (which had to have spoilers, aka “this thing that makes them super fast, Mommy!”) and his special E pancakes.

Me, I’m loving the language that I can work into these. Yes, I’m “that” mom… I think all AVT moms are. Think of all the words and language opportunities here! Shapes are super easy to make, different sizes for big and small, and pretty much naming anything else I can draw out for him, all in fun-sized and delicious packages he loves. Plus plenty of chances to offer choices – do you want the circle or the square? The Mickey Mouse or the race car? I’ve also read that a little food coloring can land you with colored pancakes, but I wasn’t that brave with the first round.

Anything the boys didn’t gobble down I put in a bag in the freezer laid out in layers with wax paper between them. I’m looking forward to pulling them out and seeing how good they are after the fact!



Working on language opportunities with Danny is a constant challenge. We try – boy, do we try – but with an almost-4 year old that likes desires needs to be the center of attention, it seems like more often than not I try to engage Danny in some play therapy and end up with Eric in my face and Danny wandered off to some other activity on his own.


So when I found myself and Danny in my bedroom, alone, Eric downstairs watching TV, I jumped on it. There was no therapy set up. There were no beginning language sounds or lings or books. It was me, Danny, and the cell phone that had fallen out of my pocket.

So, when he picked up my phone and started to open and close it, I ran with it. I held it closed until he said open. I held it closed and modeled “close” for him a few times before finally letting him close it. I held it up to my ear and pretended to talk, then offered it to him. I said “phone” and “open” and “close” and “push” about 50 times each before finally giving him the phone, then I made him give it back to me and we handed it back and forth a few times. “Do you want the phone?” “Oooh!” “OK, Danny! Here’s the phone!”

I think a lot of people hear “therapy,” before they’re introduced to it, and see strict sessions, exact activities, even lesson plans…and don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for that too! But nothing delights me more than the rare times I can catch Danny and hold his interest in something totally spur of the moment and day to day.

Like sitting on the floor playing with my cell phone. I think he tried to call China at one point; maybe he’ll speak that language since he doesn’t seem too interested in English?

10 minutes later, I felt like I’d accomplished so much with Danny, and we’d had a bunch of fun in the process. It’s the little opportunities that are, sometimes, the best ones we can get.