Jacob and Elijah Shaddox are brothers. Jacob is 21 years old and just moved into an apartment with his girlfriend. He graduated from a technical college with an Associate's degree in Computer Maintenance. He works for a school district as a computer technician. Elijah is almost 18 years old. He is hearing impaired, has Tourette Syndrome, OCD and ADHD. He is a junior in high school. Elijah lives with his mom Mary and her wife, his stepmom. Mary has a bachelor's in deaf education and a masters in special education, and is an educational diagnostician. Life is always changing and this blog has chronicled many of these changes and will continue to do so!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Workshop on Tourettes

I went to a workshop today at the educational service center for our area on Tourette Syndrome. Susan Conners was the presenter and she did an awesome job. I have already emailed her with a question. She was easy to talk to and KNOWS so much about tourettes. She has it herself. She is also a very giving person offering her email and to phone in for IEP meetings if needed.

I feel like I haven't really always been dealing with Elijah's tourettes. I have got to get myself more educated and become even a stronger advocate than I have been. It is an overwhelming thing to deal with. There are no easy answers and I think what I really liked about today was that Susan really understood and was able to answer all the questions asked of her. Nothing seemed to stump her.

Everytime I think I have tourettes figured out, it throws me a curve. The OCD and ADHD don't help at all either.

Taking Elijah to the doctor on Monday. When his tics really get going, he is having about 70 tics every 10 min. They are really hard tics.

I am going to enjoy the rest of my weekend! Staying home out of the cold! I have a few errands to run, but they won't take long and I'll get home to my warm house!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Don't worry, I am over it now, but sometimes I just get so sick of tourettes. It is not the tics, it is the OCD, ADHD and anxiety that come with it. Elijah has been doing SO WELL, I mean great. Then tics got bad in the last few weeks and it seems behavior has steadily gone down hill. He has had his points frozen at school ALL WEEK....not one day that has been good all day. On Monday he was OFF TASK for 90 min. He would not sit and do his 10 min time out. WTH! We have not seen behavior like this since last year!

He is also pushing things at home. He is telling me NO more and not going to time out when told to go there. It is so hard to keep a calm demeanor with him when he acts that way.

Today was the last straw. I told him NO electronics(Wii, computer, nintendo DS....) until he has a good day. It doesn't have to be perfect, but NO hitting and do what you are told.

I can deal with tics. Tics don't bother me. I can deal with a little defiance, but not all out DEFIANCE. I know it could be worse, but it could be better too.

My vent is now over. I feel better. Thanks!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Raising Children part 2

As I laid in bed last night, I was thinking about what I had posted in my blog. There was something missing, something I had not written down at the time because I couldn't really put my finger on it. As I ws laying in bed, going over all of it, it came to me. JOY! That is what I had missed. Having a user's manual would take away all oft he JOY that comes with having a child.

What do I mean by Joy? I mean the joy of seeing your child crawl for the first time or even just smile. The joy of the first word and the first step. The joy of the first day of school to the first date! If I had a user's manual then I would know the exact day they would accomplish these milestones and it would not be such a joy to experience them. Of course, by taking the joy I take the sadness. The days when they are sick or break a limb and you have to take them to the ER. The sadness of losing a pet or a friend moving. If we want the joy then we have to accept the trade off of sadness. I do think it is worth it, this trade off.

I used to wonder why my mother worried so much about me. Why she wanted me to check in when I was at a friend's house or when I travelled to college to check in. Now I know, parents never stop worrying. Even when that child is 18 and going off to college, the worry never stops, but neither does the joy. The joy continues also. The joy of graduating from high school and then college. The joy of a first job and of becoming a grandparent. With joy comes worry and we have to accept both.

I think I can do that, but it doesn't mean it is eay.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Raising children

I do wish that children came with a user's manual, unique to that child. This manual would inform parents as to what discipline works with that child and their preferred ways to learn. It may also let parent's know what is unique about that child from something as good as a high IQ to a disease that is lurking and what to expect. Of course, I guess this would take some of the fun of parenthood away, but it sure would lessen the stress.

I love my two boys and wouldn't change a thing about them, because then they wouldn't be who they are. We can't take away all the hurt and learning experiences that come with that hurt or from joy. Some of us carry a heavier load than others.

My son Jacob is a handsome young man who is now taller than me. He was blessed with good looks and a good personality. He does have ADHD and I do think OCD shows itself at times, but otherwise he does well. I have made my mistakes with him, but nothing too serious and nothing that most parents don't experience.

Now Elijah has had a rough start from the beginning. I do so wish he had come with a user's manual. He was eight weeks early and spent five weeks in the NICU before coming home on oxygen. He also failed his newborn hearing screening when dismissed from the NICU. He was later found to have auditory neuropathy and be profoundly deaf. He spent six months on oxygen and we had to watch him carefully for illness. He spent the first several years just trying to stay healthy. He underwent two different cochlear implant surgeries within the first four and half years of his life. He has had two different CAT scans in his life and was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at the age of 8. He was also found to be OCD and ADHD. Boy at the age of three this would have been nice to know, because he was such a stubborn kid.

I sometimes wonder why Elijah has to carry such a heavy load. I would gladly carry it for him and take on some of his challenges. I have done the best I can and have made mistakes with him also, but I think he has made me a better mom. I am more patient with him and also with Jacob. I have learned that yelling doesn't always accomplish a thing except more yelling. I have learned that spanking is not always the answers and time outs do work, when done correctly. I have learned that consistency is the key with all of this. I have learned to be an advocate for myself and for both my children. I have also become a better teacher and a better advocate for the parent's I deal with as well as their children. I think I have become a better listener, but I still have to make myself shut up sometimes and really listen.

Would a user's manual have helped or would it have made me worry even more as I read through it with this newborn in my hands? Would I have even been able to bond with him or would I have just worried and worried?

I guess children are here to teach us even as much as we are supposed to teach them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Little Brag

Now that Elijah is on Level 4 in the behavior program he is having a little homework at night. Mostly studying spelling words and also reading a book. This past week he hada book about a little boy who only had one arm. His other arm was missing at birth and he had a stump for an upper arm. No elbow or anything past that. I apologize if I am not politically correct.

In the book it discusses how he got a prosthetic arm and hand. It also showed how he made friends and that people asked about his prosthetic arm. I compared it to Elijah's cochlear implants and how they are prosthetic ears! It took 3 nights to read the entire book and he did a great job. His fluency is amazing. He never quite pronounced prosthetic correclty, but he did try several times when I corrected him.

Well, we always watch the news at night and of course Haiti is covered nightly. Elijah watches while he plays and sometimes he makes comments or I make comments. He was very interested when they showed a little boy what had to have his arm amputated due to a crush injury. The news showed him with a bandaged stump. Elijah looked right at me and said, "mom he needs a prottettic." Now he didn't say prosthetic correclty but HE USED THE WORD and used it correctly. He didn't say fake arm or a new arm. He used the word prosthetic!

Elijah amazes me daily with the words he uses and WHEN we are done shopping, can I play the Wii?

Now we still have some behaivior to work on, but I take pride in whatever I can!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Overall, Elijah's behavior has improved 200% except for in PE. It isn't like he is being awful, he just does things before thinking. Like today, they had jump ropes and he swung the rope around and hit a girl. He didn't do it on purpose, but it is still considered a hit and so his points are frozen. Quick recap...he is on a behavior plan and has to earn points to move up in levels. He started on level 1 and if he hits he moved down a level(like on level 2 and he hits so he moves back to level 1). He was doing great, but still stuck at level 1, so we tweaked things and he is on level 4 now.

He has fewer privledges on level 1 and as he moves through the levels he gets more privledges. On Level 4 he gets to eat in the cafeteria and he has his desk OUT of a cubicle. Now he needs this structure, but it is just frustrating that PE is holding him down. That is his last hurdle. I am really just venting. He is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. He has to learn to be careful, but when you compare him to this time last year you wouldn't even see the same child. You would think they were two different children.

OK my vent is over. He will make it, he has made too much progress for me to get down now. He just has to try harder!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I am amazed daily at Elijah and how much language he has acquired. As many of you know I work with hearing impaired students in my school district. Many of them are sign dependent kids. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a strong supporter of sign, but I am also a strong supporter of parental support at home in learning signs. The students I have who have parents who sign do so much better than those that just learn enough to get by.

I don't think many people really realize how children learn language. It all starts at the moment of birth. Babies listen to all the sounds around them for almost 12 months before they really begin trying to put words together. It may even take 18 months. Babies babble, of course, and parents respond and that is how it all starts. For a deaf baby, they don't get that. Sometimes parents don't even know their child is deaf until the child is 12, 18 or 24 months old and then they are playing catch up. I work with so many children who do sign, but still don't really have the language appropriate age. I also work with children with cochlear implants who have not progressed as well as other kids. Sometimes it is that appropriate therapy was not done, or the child just has their own rate of progress, or there is a secondary condition. I also work with deaf ed. teachers who are very inflexible and think their way is the only way. HOW HOW HOW are we to make any progress with these kids if we can't see eye to eye or at least work together.

Anyway, I am off of my soapbox! I went to a workshop at Calliers Center for Communication Disorders in Dallas. It was titled Learning through the years and started with babies through college years on development and not just language and emotional issues for deaf children. Now I have always known vocabulary was important but I couldn't put it in words to explain it well enough to parents. However I learned something in those two days about vocabulary.

There are three tiers of vocabulary. Tier 1 is basic vocabulary that every six year old should know...chair, table, bed, bath etc. Tier 3 vocabulary is academic vocabulary. These are words we don't use every day like isotope, quadrilateral, inclined plane, etc. Tier 2 words are words the "meat" of our vocabulary and where we should focus when teaching children. These are words that can be USED to teach Tier 3 vocabulary. This really got me thinking about how to teach kids. ALSO, that parents need to understand that it doesn't matter HOW WELL a child can sound out words if he doesn't have the vocabulary to understand WHAT is being read.

We have got to UP the ante when working with these kids. We can't just take what they give us, but must demand that they give us more. I'll give you an example of how Elijah used Tier 3 vocabulary. it is that inclined plane story I told a while back. Elijah asked me what something was. I answered it was a RAMP(Tier 2 vocab) and he said NO mom it is an inclined plane. HE had the Tier 3 vocabulary word and used it while I had chosen a Tier 2 word. However, Elijah had known the Tier 2 word...ramp...and at school when taught inclined plane with a definition of ramp he had known it and learned it. SO many of these kids don't have the tier 2 vocabulary to understand the tier 3 academic vocabulary they are being taught.

The other thing we have to do is expect more from them in regards to speaking and using sentences. Don't accept pointing when they want something or accept ONE word. Great they used the word, but "feed" them the sentence and help them practice and expect it every time. I did this with Elijah and didn't even KNOW I was doing it. Now when he asks things like "what is the number today?" I say "What is the date?". He repeats it and we move on. I don't have to spend a LONG time teaching him to repeat what I say and he learns it. It may take several weeks, but he always does. I do this with my students, but they need their parents to do it too!

I am glad to say that even after 19 years of teaching hearing impaired students and almost 10 years of being a parent of a hearing impaired child that I have learned something NEW. I am hoping that when I talk to parents I can turn them on to these ideas. We have to set high expectations and we have to HELP these kids meet these expectations. Elijah uses words like inclined plane, natural resources, chewbacca, darth vader, studs(from the game), character, remote, obstacle course and so on. He still needs me to "teach" him but I don't have to set up a lesson, I just have to be on the look out for those vocabulary words he needs. The newest one has been VILLAN. I heard it the other day and though, wow, we always use the words "bad guys" to explain the bad guys. Lets up the ante and use the words villan. It came up during a Star Wars Wii game and I just started talking about Darth Vader being a villan...a bad the joker is a villan on Batman and so on. I then used the word over several days. He has not used it, but he has heard it and if he reads it hopefully he will relate it to those Tier 2 words...."bad guys".

Friday, January 15, 2010

It Aint Easy!

Well is isn't easy to lose weight! Oh my, I am into my second full week and I AM HUNGRY. I did exercise last night and tonight so I earned me some exercise points. I am meeting my brother and his family in a bit to eat out. I just have to watch myself and eat what I have put in my weight watchers plan. I am doing well eating my sandwich and pudding for lunch. It has also helped my pocketbook!! Now if I could just keep the sweets out of the house. Jacob and Elijah like so many different things and they are temptations!

I did buy some blueberry pie filling and an angel food cake mix. I will mix them together to make blueberry squares. They are very good and low in points. It looks like a purple mess when I mix it together though!

I also got some ground sirloin to make the weight watcher's salsbury steak. I still need to find some onion flakes but then I am good to go to make it tomorrow night! I weigh in on Tuesday of next week and hope to show a loss!

Otherwise things are going well. Elijah didn't make it to level 5 in the 15 days given so he has to start over on level 4 on Tuesday of next week. That is ok though, he still needs some refining on his behavior. He is still so much better than this time last year. His "bang bang" tics are still around and still loud.

Jacob had semester exams this week. I'll have to check his grades in a bit. I had to have a chat with him this afternoon about his attitude. For some reason he thinks he can talk snotty to me and I aint putting up with it anymore. I can still take that child down!

Monday, January 11, 2010

More on People in our Lives

Well it was pointed out to me by one of my former students that I had not mentioned others in my life! As a teacher I have had many students come and go, and I remember all of them. Being in deaf ed. I had the majority of my students for at least all four years of high school and others even longer. They touched my life and I hoped I touched theirs. I was also the sponsor of a sign language club called Silent Friends and met many other kids that way.

There are several students that I still keep in touch with on Facebook. Shanda, Angie, Robert, Shanda Joy, Nicole, Paul, Freddy, Austin, Jerry and MaryAmber are all on Facebook. Some of them graduated many years ago and others more recently. It is hard for me to believe that so many of them have grown up and gone on to live their own lives. I am thrilled that many of them want to keep in touch.

I have been teaching now for 19 years and I hope to continue for many more years to come. I started off with high schoolers and many of them are not too much younger than me. More recent graduates I have known since they were in elementary school and I watched them grow up. They all helped me to be a better mom and hopefully have prepared me for those teen years!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

People in our Lives

There are so many people that have come in and out of life and the lives of my children. I was emailing one of Elijah's former teachers and several friends about Elijah's last IEP(ARD meeting as it is called here in Texas) and started thinking about all of the people that have touched our lives. I started thinking of all of the people I would not have met if not for the path that I was put on by my children.

First let me say that my mother is and continues to be my strongest support! All of my family is such a support, but my mother has always been there for me! She continues to be there and is a great grandmother to my two boys!

It seems like most of my blogs focus on Elijah. He is the one with most of the issues and who keeps me the busiest. However, Jacob is my firstborn and the light of my life. He is such a great big brother! I have met many great people due to him being on soccer teams or having great friends! He is such a typical kid that he has not need as much support as his brother has. I think that is a good thing! He will continue to bring people into my life through his life! I also think having a brother who is NOT typical has made him a more compassionate person and one who will step in and help others as needed.

Now my Elijah, well he is a different story. He came into this world 8 weeks early and has kept me busy since his birth. The first few years of his birth were a blurr. We had so many doctor's appointments. One audiologist, Leslie, who we saw on Elijah second hearing test(at the age of 4 months) is still in our life. She is still his audiologist and turned on his second cochlear implant. Jennifer was the audiologist who turned on his first implant and I just saw her at a workshop the other day. She now works for the cochlear implant company that manufactures Elijah's implants. She still asks about him and loves to hear updates! These two are not just audiologists but people who have taken a true interest in Elijah. There is also the surgeon who implanted Elijah. We don't see him as often, but he always says hello and listens to updates on Elijah's progress.

My former supervisor was our Early Childhood person who worked with me when Elijah was an infant in regards to his hearing loss. Even though I was and still am a teacher of the deaf, I had never worked with infants. She was a great help. Elijah's private auditory verbal therapist never gave up on him, even though he didn't make the typical progress that most CI children make!

Elijah has had some great teachers and I have not forgotten any of them. Jamie, Kara, Sarah, Deborah and Tina were his deaf ed. teachers in the local deaf ed. program. He was not an easy child, but they worked with me in all areas. I still keep in touch with many of them and and keep them up to date on Elijah's progress.

Elijah has had two great teachers in our home district who have helped us with behavior. We have learned about Tourette's together and we communicate very well.

I have also made SO MANY friends online. I have emailed and talked to other parents of children with auditory neuropathy, hearing loss, children with cochlear implants, children with tourette syndrome. Elaine helped me so much in the beginning to learn about auditory neuropathy. She encouraged me to seek out Dr. Berlin in New Orleans and get his adivce on cochlear implants for Elijah. She continues to be my friend and we keep in touch almost daily through the internet. Dr. Berlin is someone else who touched our lives and took a personal interest in Elijah. He was instrumental in helping Elijah get implanted. Val in Alabama and Eva in Canada are two good friends online that I chat with about hearing loss. Michelle is a new friend that I chat with about Elijah's tourette syndrome.

How different would my life be if Elijah wasn't who he is? When I get down or sad about how things are going, and wonder what my life would be like IF Elijah wasn't deaf....IF he didn't have tourettes....I also remember that I would not have met these people. Would I like that life?

Having both Jacob and Elijah has made me a better teacher. I have more patience than I ever thought I could have. I have learned to advocate for my children as well as myself. I am who I am because of those around me and I wouldn't trade any of them in or change a thing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weight Loss

I am on day seven of starting back on Weight Watcher's online. I lost about 60 lbs when I was on weight watchers in 2004. It took almost a year but I did it. Unfortunately I have gained the majority of this back in the last four years. I decided I just had to do it and get back on it. I have done pretty good this week. Even though I started on Sunday, my weight in days will be on Tuesday. I am curious to see how I will do this coming Tuesday.

I have been exercising using my Wii fit. My biggest challenge will be remaining consistent with this exercising. I did 20 min of step aerobics today! There are lot of other exercises. I like the boxing one too. The problem is LIFE gets in the way and I find excuses. Well, no more of that. I just have to stop and do it!

My goal is to lose 45 lbs. I haven't given myself a deadline on this. This is a life change and it won't be easy but I did it once before. I allowed myself to eat and eat and gained it back. I forgive myself for doing it and am now losing this for ME!

I'll keep y'all posted!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Great Workshop and update!

I attended a workshop today and yesterday on the emotional, social and language development of children with hearing loss. It went from birth to adult age and it was GREAT! The presenters were wonderful. I learned a lot and I can apply it to my program/students and to Elijah! It was very insightful! It is amazing that even after teaching for almost 19 years that you can still learn something NEW!!

On another note, we have survived the first week back at school. Jacob has actually been pleasant to wake up....not meaning he was HAPPY to get up but he wasn't moody! That is amazing for a 13 year old! Elijah had a pretty good week. His points were frozen yesterday and still frozen today, but compared to past behavior the issues this week were minor. His tics have also calmed down quite a bit and that has been great for him and me! Work was good and I had a nice two days "off" by attending this workshop. Although I had my iphone with me so I still was in contact with work and answering emails!!! It saves my sanity though, because I hate to come home and check emails and see things that needed to be handled pretty quick instead of waiting.

It has been COLD here in Texas and that is an understatement. We have been below freezing since 3AM yesterday morning. We won't get above freezing until tomorrow afternoon. You know it is cold when the cats come and find you to sleep next too to stay warm!

I plan on watching a few movies this weekend and catching up on laundry! Back to the grind next week, but planning on trying to relax this weekend.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Today's IEP Meeting!!!!

We had Elijah's IEP meeting today(here in Texas it is called an ARD, but I figure I would use IEP meeting since every other state uses that terminology but us!). It went really well. It was one of the best meetings I have ever had for him and was just easy. He is working on grade level in reading and math. He will take the accomodated state testing....which is the same as the regular test that everyone else takes....minus the field test questions. He will get some accomodations, the main one being one on one testing. He won't be in a room with anyone but the test administrator. This is to decrease the distractions in the room, but also due to his tics. He would be a major distraction to any other students in the room.

Overall, everyone is pleased with his progress. Behavior is so much better and he seems to have fewer "off" days. Of course, some of those days he cannot help, due to them being neurological in nature. We are hoping that on test days in April that he is having a GOOD day!

When he makes level 5 he will be mainstreamed out in one class daily. After 21 school days he then will mainstream into another class. Once he is over 50% out in mainstream then we have to go back and have another IEP meeting. He will also get a keyboarding device to use in the classroom instead of having to write his assignments. I am glad it will be a slow transition for him. I think that will help. He will also have an aide that goes with him to his classes.

His deaf ed. teacher thinks he is doing very well. She is amazed at how well he hears with his implants and his language skills. He still has things he needs to work on, but he has come so far. He was not even talking at the age of 3 and now I cannot get him to be quiet sometimes! His teacher had me tell everyone the story about him saying inclined plane and using it correctly in a sentence!

I am not sure what the future holds, but for today things are good! Sometimes all you can focus on is the present and try not to worry too much about the future. It can drive you nuts.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome 2010!

Today was just about like any other day, except I didn't have to go to work. Elijah and I went grocery shopping. He spent the last of his Christmas money on a toy car. We hung out at home and then I started making some calls. I wanted to find some gloves for Elijah to help him with his hitting tic. I called one place and didn't get much help there, but then called Dick's sporting goods. The woman was very helpful and went to check and see what they had. She thought a women's small athletic glove might work for him.

Elijah and I set off and went down to Dick's. Lisa, who I had talked to on the phone, helped me find Sherman who helped us with the gloves. When I mentioned why we wanted the gloves they didn't even flinch or ask questions. they just helped us find a glove that fit. They asked if color mattered and it didn't, but of course NO PINK! Elijah tried them on, and I never know if he will cooperate but he did.

We bought the gloves and came home. He has worn them since he has gotten home and I think they are keeping his hand from hurting. He slams his hands down HARD on the computer desk we have sometimes with a fist and sometimes with just his hand palm down. These gloves have some panding in the palms so hoping that will keep him from injuring himself. The psychiatrist also said that the weight of the gloves on his hands might help some. I did email Elijah's teacher today to explain the new tics that have come about and about the gloves. I'll give her an update on Monday. He goes back to school on Tuesday.

My brother, his wife and my niece came for dinner. We had some blackberry wine, OH it was so good. Dinner was great and we played some Wii. What an exciting life we live. They cruised home a little early. Peggy, my SIL, and I are going to go and see New Moon tomorrow! My brother is going to watch Elijah for me!

On Sunday, I will go to pick up a former student who is going to babysit the boys on Monday. Someone suggested I let his 13 year old brother Jacob just babysit. Normally, a 13 year old could watch a little brother that is 9, but this is not a typical situation. Now I have left Elijah with Jacob for short periods of time while I run an errand in town, but not for long.

I am hoping this will be a good year. I am going to start back on my weight watchers next week and will continue with my Wii fit plus. I dropped about 60 lbs 5 years ago and I can do it again!

Hopefully Jacob will one day emerge from his room. He is addicted to his laptop right now and I am letting him has his fun. School will start back up and I'll have to be the MEAN mom and make him get off his laptop and go to bed.

My next goal for us is to make it to the beach this summer. Elijah really loves it. Jacob likes it, he always comes around once we get there and I love the beach...although I hate getting into a bathing suit, but maybe I'll drop that weight and won't mind so much this year!