The week of James's surgery was also his "heariversary." He is officially one year hearing. Typically, audiologists and SLPs/AVTs will tell you to measure how your child is doing based on their hearing age. So, are they doing things language-wise that a child of that age would do? I think it's safe to say that James is doing at least that well, probably more so. I couldn't even begin to count all the spoken words he knows. Colors, numbers, most of the alphabet, food, animals, places, common items and verbs, and simple directions make up most of his vocabulary. Much of what I say to him in a day is only spoken. If he clearly doesn't understand, then I will sign. Or if it's something new or not typical vocabulary, then I will sign that too. Truly, though, he astounds me on a regular basis with the things that he understands. At least once a week he will understand something that I did not expect him to, or know that he knew. And three times in the last few weeks he has overheard a conversation and recognized some of the words. Two of the times he did not understand the usage of the word, but that's English! But he identified the word and asked what we were talking about. Last night at church he was busy coloring and not even facing the interpreter, but he knew when the person praying said amen.
He is becoming more interested in conversations that don't directly involve him, and he is really coming along in his expressive language. Even though he understands quite a bit of spoken language, his primary form of expression is still signing. He has been consistently stringing 3 or 4 words together, and telling more stories of things that have happened, or conversations we've had. The other day when he woke up and saw it was raining, he told me it was raining and that I would need my windshield wipers in the car. Then he told the dog to be quiet because Aedan was still sleeping. On Wednesday night in his prayer he talked about wanting a cookie in his class and not liking the snack I brought him. None of those in so many words, of course, but quite clearly nonetheless. He is also starting to relay messages, something that he never was able to do before. Granted, they sometimes take some decoding, but he is getting the idea.
He does have a good number of words that he speaks on a regular basis, and some of them are starting to become clearer. His favorite things to say are mine, I do, love you, no, please help me, and puppy. Water, shower, Liana, Aedan, Shadow, what happened, mommy, daddy, please have..., banana, milk, movie are some of the other words he says just about every day. We are almost 4 weeks out from his surgery, and I am starting to hear a difference in some of the sounds he can make. He will return to speech next week, and I'm excited to hear what his therapist says.
I love ASL. I think it's a beautiful language, and I'm thankful that the Lord gifted me with the ability to learn it. But I have to be honest. I'm equally thankful for the gift of hearing that CIs give to my son. This is all extra amazing because he was implanted so late, and is profoundly deaf. Until one year ago, he had absolutely no access to sound, so his brain has had to develop all these pathways for language. He should not be doing as well as he is, according to the experts. But God is able.