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!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Since the day we found out Elijah was deaf, I have set very high expectations for him. There was so much for him to overcome...premature birth, coming home on oxygen, deafness, pnemonia, slow in development and later tourette syndrome.

After Elijah was implanted, I worked so hard for him to reach his full potential. It has taken years for him to get where he is now and we have had many road blocks. We have busted through those road blocks and I am so proud of where Elijah is now....and proud of Jacob as well.

I get very frustrated with people who don't set high expectations for their children and make excuses why their child can't do something. Even children with no disabilities may have parents who make excuses for them. What frustrates me even more are professionals who don't set those high expectations(not speaking of anyone working with Elijah), but just professionals in general. I have run across a few in my 20 years of education!

I marvel daily at the language Elijah uses. The sentencs he comes up with and even if they aren't perfect, we fix them and move on!

One more thing I want to brag on....Jacob was nominated by one of his teachers to be part of Rachel's Challenge at his high school. Rachel was the first student shot in the Columbine shooting. This challenge is to work with students to stop bullying in school. I need to do more research on it. Jacob is still that typical boy who doesn't always do his homework, but he is becoming a fine young man!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Elijah's Hearing

It has been nine years since Elijah got his first cochlear implant and I am still amazed at the technology. He got his second cochlear implant about six years ago. He only had 18 months of his life without at least one cochlear implant.

What amazes me is how well he does with them! He can hear a whisper across a room. Last night, he was on the computer with his back to the TV. He was very focused on his computer game, but I noticed him sort of dancing to the music from the TV commercial. He was just a grinning and turned around to see what was on the TV. He is able to HEAR background sounds and react to them. He can pull that background sound OUT of the sound he is focused on. Some may not get how COOL that is, but it is cool.

I have also noticed that he has the ability to over hear conversations. He can be focused on something and then hear part of a conversation. He will then say something like, "what are you talking about" or just join the conversation. He hears very well in the car with background noise. He is also to the point where he incidentally learning new vocabulary as well as idioms.

As a teacher of the deaf, I know how far Elijah has come. I work daily with students who are on this same journey. Some are ahead of Elijah and others behind, but they are on their own personal journey. All of the hard work I put forth so many years ago has paid off. There is still much work to be done and there always will be, but it is so much easier now.

I am amazed that I can still be amazed. You would think that the thrill of his hearing would wear off with the passage of time, but it hasn't. I still marvel at it daily!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Four Weeks into School

We are four weeks into school and things seem to be going well so far. I have been running crazy busy at work, but things finally seemed to calm a bit this week. I actually got some quality time in my office to get some things done! I am hoping this continues. I have to travel in a few weeks, but that is another story!

Jacob is LOVING school. He has had a few bumps in the road with an Algebra test and a test in Biology. I am keeping a close eye on it and emailed the Colonel over his ROTC class to help intervene. Jacob went to a lock in that the ROTC held last night and LOVED it. He did say a few kids got rowdy and everyone had to do push ups, but he wasn't really complaining. He loves wearing his ROTC uniform and takes great pride in it. This week he got his name badge with SHADDOX on it. I am so glad he has started off the year well. These four years will fly by and I want him to really enjoy them. I have so many regrets about my high school years. Nothing awful, I just wish I had done more!

Elijah has had a good four weeks at school. He has had a few days with "poor behavior" but nothing like we have seen in the past. He has had no physical aggression towards anyone and I am hoping that continues. He seems to like school more this year. He is taking NO medications while at school. He takes his medication in the morning prior to school. Last year he took one medication at school. He was on this medication for tics, but it wasn't seeming to help anymore, so the doctor wanted me to slowly take him off of it and we did that this summer. The new medication for tics he takes in the morning and did take in the afternoon, but I stopped the afternoon one. Tics had decreased and it was hard to know if it was really helping or not.

We went to the neurologist this week and he agreed. The less meds Elijah has to take the better. Sometimes there will just be tics and IF they are not INTERFERING too much into his life than no meds. He has gained a lot of weight and that is a concern. Last night he had what seemed like more tics, but nothing to serious. For now all I can do is observe and decide from day to day what to do. Elijah is also not the best reporter of how his tics affect him or if it is a "good" or "bad" tic day. I think his hearing loss plays a part in that. He has come a long way with language but he is still a deaf child who hears with cochlear implants, who is a bit behind in his language skills. I can guarantee this, there is no other child like him! He and Jacob both are one of a kind!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Discovery Healthy Channel had a show on the other night called Tourette's Uncovered. I watched it and found it to be very informative. There were four boys with tourette syndrome who were profiled. Elijah watched a bit with me tonight, because he saw the title in the DVR and asked to watch some of it.

After watching it, I am thankful that Elijah's tics are not as severe as some of the one's shown on the program. I am not saying I am happy that Elijah has tourette syndrome and tics, but it could be worse. Of course, at the time of diagnosis I didn't think that. Elijah's life has never been easy. He came into this world struggling, but he has always been a fighter. He has overcome so much and I am amazed at him daily. I sometimes wonder how he does it!

Of course, each of us has something we have to overcome. I have some extreme OCD at times. I really have to tell my brain to just STOP IT, or a thought can drive me insane. I now take some medicine to help with that, but it can still sneak up on me. As an adult, I find it hard to overcome this part of me and don't even know how Elijah at his age can deal with his OCD.

Sometimes it takes a television program or meeting others who have overcome a disability to put things in perspecitve and make us thankful that we don't have more to bear.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Elijah and I went to the North Texas Tourette Syndrome Support group meeting today in Dallas. I am hoping to make more meetings this year since Elijah won't be playing soccer. It is a good group and there is always a pretty good turn out. It is nice being able to talk to parents who experience many of the same things that I experience with Elijah. We all have different stories, but they all relate with the tics and such.

We had one speaker today and then the parents just sat around and spoke. I spoke to two other moms and we shared school experiences and each of us had some ideas on how to help each other out. It may sound boring, but it really wasn't. It was nice to be able to share with others who truly GET IT!

Eljiah behaved himself and did EXCELLENT! it was probably the best he has ever behaved while we were at one of these meeting. The kids meet in another room and participate in some kind activity to keep them busy. I think it is good for him to be around other kids who know what it is like to have TS.

We have also gone to support group meetings for parents to deaf children and they were very helpful to me when Elijah was younger. I am now the person there offering more support to those parents who are just learning of their child's hearing loss. At the TS meetings, I am the one more in need of support! I am just in a different place with the TS than I am with the's all about support though! Giving and receiving it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What are the chances?

Elijah and I went to the grocery store this afternoon to get the weekly shopping done. We have a Tourette Support Group meeting tomorrow morning and I wanted to get the shopping done so we wouldn't have to do it tomorrow afternoon.

Well, we got everything done and we chose a line to wait in. It wasn't too busy, but each lane had at least two people waiting. Elijah wanted to change lanes, but I decided to stick it out. I completed a phone call from a parent and the woman in front of us struck up a conversation with us. She walked up to Elijah and said, "those sure are some cutting edge cochlear implants you have." I responded with, "Thank you." I then mentioned that there was even a newer processor out(Elijah has two Freedoms) that had a remote. She asked if he signed and we spoke a bit about Elijah getting his CIs and how we had started with sign.

She then said that she had been a sign interpreter when she had lived in Louisiana,
but since moving to Texas she had not worked as an interpreter. I then told her about being a teacher of the deaf prior to Elijah being born. I asked her if she had thought of getting her certification in Texas and that there was a high need for certified interpreters. She had considered it, but it is a long process. I told her she should think about subbing and that I was the head of my department now and we are always looking for subs who can sign. She gave me her phone number and we parted ways.

What are the chances of me running into this person? She doesn't even live in Wylie, but in a neighboring town that doesn't have a Walmart. What are the chances we would end up in the same check out lane? Sometimes Elijah is not with me and then she would never have struck up this conversation with me.

Isn't it funny how we meet people in this world? Was there some kind of force that brought us together today? I don't know, but I am glad we met.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I have been thinking a lot about communication, miscommunications and perceptions lately. So much of my job and my life is dependent on how I communicate with people. In my new role at work this is very true and it is also true as a parent and as human being. There is so much more to communication than the words we say, but also in how we say them and in body language!

Our basic need to communicate starts at birth. As a baby we cry to get our needs met and later as we grow we learn to talk. It is a lengthy process taking over three years of LISTENING to really get it right and it is still refined daily from even that point. For children who have a hearing loss, everything depends on when that hearing loss is discovered and the interventions put in place to assist that child in learning to communicate. I sometimes wonder if deaf toddlers watch hearing people communicate and wonder, "how are these people getting their needs met," and how frustrating it must be for that child to get his or her needs met. I could go on for days about this, because I work with children daily who are living their lives frustarted with just daily communication. This could be a blog series, but I want to turn now to how even hearing people communicate!

Even as a hearing person who has speech and language, communication can be a struggle. It isn't just in the words you say, but how you say them to convey your needs and also in your body language. It is also dependent in the baggage the listener brings with him or her. A person who initiates a conversation may have no idea that the listener has had a bad day or is holding a grudge against the speaker for something that happened several days before. An innocent conversation can turn into an arguement, just because of a miscoummincation or in how the speaker's message is interpreted.

I am finding at work that I need to chose my words and learn to read the other person when I am speaking in order to adjust my message. I am also learning to be a better listener and be patient with the person talking and let them really finish. I am a fast talker and a fast thinker, my brain starts going 100 mph and I have to tell it to slow down sometimes and be patient. I have also learned to communicate to others that I am aware I am a fast talker and I truly try to slow down, BUT if I am ever talking too fast it doesn't bother me for someone to ask me to slow down.

I have been trying to teach my 14 year old that I truly do want to listen to him when he decides to share with me. He does it so rarely that I truly do want to listen. However, I may be in the middle of something and he needs to wait so I can give him 100% of my attention or there may be background noise that is making it difficult for me to listen. He is also a mumbler and thinks I am NOT listening when in fact I am. I am hoping ROTC will help him become a better communicator!

I saw all of this to encourage others to remember how precious it is that we can communicate. To remember that communication takes two people and as a listener we should be open to listening not shut off! I am hoping to continue to grow as a good communicator!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two Weeks into the School Year

We are two weeks into the school year, and I am happy to report things are going well. Jacob is loving the high school. He will wear his ROTC uniform to school this Wednesday and every Wednesday of the school year. I can't wait to get a picture of him! I took him to get his haircut today so he could wear his hat properly.

Elijah continues to do well at school. He has had all good days since he has been back. Everyone says he is a different kid! I am pleased and hoping it continues.

My year is going pretty well. I am staying VERY busy!! I am thankful for the three day weekend we are having! I have a busy week ahead of me, but I enjoy it! I can't wait to start seeing my students each week. My days are fast and furious though, but I would rather be busy..... I think. Right now I am almost TOO busy!

I hope the time doesn't fly by too quickly though. I am not ready for the holidays quite yet!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jacob got his ROTC Uniform

Jacob stayed after school today to get fitted for his ROTC uniform. He told me he might stay and finally texted me around 5:20 asking me to come get him. I finally find him at the school and out he walks with his uniform. He starts telling me all about it. He needs a haircut, because his hair is too long for his hat to fit correctly. He told me about the shoes and what size he got. He just talked and talked. He really likes high school and I am so glad for that.

I'll be sure to get lots of pictures when he does wear the uniform for the first time. He is so excited!