Inspire - Advocate - Educate

Monday, April 25, 2016, 18:17 | No Comments »
I grew up in a two-bedroomed Council flat, on the dusty Cape Flats, in an area riddled with gang related violence.Our unit, No. 24, was on the top floor of a three-storey block of flats.From my bedroom window I enjoyed a view of the mountains, where I'd spend hours marvelling at their magnificence. My imagination ran wild with the mysteries that hid beyond them.
I have fond, albeit vague, memories of my early childhood - playing 'stones' on the stoep with my friend, who lived with her family in the flat below us (I can't recall her name); she was so much better at playing the game than I was and won each time we played! I learned to play 'kennetjie' in the parking area, and hopscotch in the courtyard. In the main street is where I scraped my knees, drawing blood, as I learnt to roller skate. I loved my skates with the yellow wheels. I used them until the rubber stopper on the front wore off!

Christmas and New Year's were particularly special. On Christmas Eve my mom would spend hours in our small kitchen, preparing a feast of roasts and festive trifle for Christmas Day lunch. Christmas was the only time we used the 'special' crockery, and cutlery and lay the main table in the dining room. On New Year's Eve, my mom would wake me, and - kneeling on my bed beside my window, with the windows and curtains open,- we'd wait for the minstrels to come down the street and fill the night air with festive music, brightening up the dimly lit street with their colourful costumes and infectious energy. We could hear them in the distance, as they made their way down the main street. As they got closer the road would fill up with people - young and old - dancing and cheering alongside. It was the highlight of the year.

But as I grew older, things around the neighbourhood started to change, and it was no longer safe to play outside. So I'd lie on my bed, in the blue painted room I once shared with my two older brothers, and daydream, creating the most elaborate scenes.

As a child, my goals of what I wanted to be when I grew up changed all the time, but the one constant was my desire to see the world. For as long as I can remember, I've dreamt of one day travelling overseas and exploring different cities - experiencing diverse cultures.

The 3rdInternational FCEI Conference (Family Centred Early Intervention) for children who are deaf, or hearing impaired takes place in a small town called Bad Ischl, near Salzburg, Austria from the 15th – 17th June. On the 12th I will be jetting off to Austria to attend this amazing event! I am so THRILLED for this opportunity and look forward to meeting and networking with other parents and professionals.

"The Congress represents a unique global partnership between parents and professionals, both hearing and deaf or hard of hearing. The theme of the 2016 conference is "For Every Child and Family", in recognition of the diversity of deaf and hard of hearing children, their individual needs and those of their families, the contexts in which they live and grow, and the variety of services they experience."

The opportunity to travel has always seemed to elude me and I'm so grateful to my husband for helping and supporting me to make my childhood dream a reality. As an 'added bonus', on my way back from the conference, I stop over in Turkey for a four day tour of three of its historical cities! As much as I am excited to be atteding the conference, I'm also filled with nervous energy as I embark on this adventure alone!

Whilst there, I will be posting regular updates on the Journey 2 Sound Facebook page, to keep you updated of my travels.

Friday, February 12, 2016, 17:31 | 1 Comment »
After a bit of a hiatus from our blog, we are back online - recharged and ready for the new chapter that awaits. And, with a leaning towards the old adage, "rather late than never", we would like to thank all journey2sound friends and supporters for your love and support in 2015. We wish you all a fantastic and blessed 2016. May it bring you new and exciting experiences, great adventures and arms full of joy and happiness!

Since our last post, Kaylin has graduated from Carel du Toit and started Grade R at her new school in picturesque Hout Bay and I couldn't be more proud.

Graduation day was a bitter-sweet event for me. During the last five years new friendships blossomed from seeds of helplessness, heartache and grief; and were nurtured with hope, love and compassion. Special memories were shaped from a common thread of commitment and passion, both from teachers and parents and a deep appreciation for the support we'd received. I've had the privilege of meeting amazing teachers, dedicated therapists, inspiring parents and equally extraordinary kids.

Kaylin was beaming. Her big brown eyes sparkled and, although she was a little unsure of what all the fuss was about, she thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony. With an uncertain smile, she made her way onto the stage to collect her diploma – dressed in her new, crisp-white party dress, and pink pumps, her oversized graduation cloak draped over her shoulders. It dawned on me that 'my 'baby' is growing up. Remembering that this is where her journey had started, and where my path to healing had begun, left a lump in my throat. It was the end of the first chapter, and indeed the beginning of a new and exciting one.


The December break was chilled, with trips to the beach, trampoline jumps and a walk in the botanical gardens. During the holidays I made sure to remind Kaylin of the fact that she was going to a new school, with a new teacher, a big swimming pool and new friends. After a short family drive to Hout Bay for a lunch of fish 'n chips, we made a slight detour on our way home to show Kaylin her new school.
On the evening before school was to start, I once again reminded her. "Nooo", she said with a scrunched-up frown and a fearful shake of her head, "Unidene!"."Oh no!" I panicked silently. I conjured up a mental image of a stressed out mom (me), a reassuring dad (my husband) and a crying six year old (Kaylin) - holding onto my legs, as if her life depended on it. Thankfully, once we'd arrived and met her teacher, Lee Dzbeǹska, she settled right in. No tears, no echoed screams down the school hallway and no stressed-out mom! After a quick chat with Lee, a tour of the classroom, and a kiss and a wave goodbye, we were on our way.

My Kaylin never ceases to amaze me!

Thank you for reading our post.

Saturday, October 3, 2015, 19:01 | No Comments »
Meet Kaylin's current speech Therapist, Carmen Roux.

Q When and where did you qualify?
A I qualified in 2010 – Stellenbosch University.

Q What is your current position
A I am a part-time employee in Carel du Toit's Speech Department.

Q What do you enjoy most about your job and why
A I enjoy the children – they keep me humble. Also being able to make a difference, however big or small.

Q How long have you been part of the Carel du Toit family?
A I have been part of the family since February 2015.

Q What advice would you give to a parent/s who suspects their child/ren has a hearing loss.
A I would advise them to take their child for a hearing test as soon as possible – early identification and support is key.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 17:51 | No Comments »
Meet Unidene Clarke, Kaylin's class teacher. Kaylin has been in Unidene's class since 2014 and she absolutey adores her teacher. Unidene is an experienced special needs teacher and I have witnessed her patience and dedication in the classroom as she  guides her little ones to achieve their full potential.
Q. When and where did you qualify?
A. I studied pre-primary teaching at Barkly House Teachers Training College in Claremont from 1978 – 1980. The following year I went to Stellenbosch University and did a diploma in Deaf Education.

Q. What is your current position
A. I am a teacher at Carel du Toit and teach the Pre-Grade R class.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job and why
A. I love and enjoy working children and to make a difference in their lives. I have a special interest in children with hearing loss and it's a privilege to teach them. It is important for me to look at the whole child and to nurture that child to reach his or her full potential. I'm always learning new things as I think about how I can meet each child's diverse needs. I love the challenges of helping children gain confidence and see the progress they are making. I have learnt patience, acceptance and empathy. It can be challenging and demanding at times, but the rewards outweigh everything else.

Q. How long have you been part of the Carel du Toit family?
A. Nearly 13 years

Q. What advice would you give to a parent/s who suspects their child/ren has a hearing loss
A. Make an appointment with ENT specialist for a thorough examination to make sure there is no physiological problems with the ears and to rule out any middle ear infections or ear wax. Following that, I would suggest an audiologist conduct a hearing test on your child. Do not delay in getting your child's hearing tested! If you child has a hearing loss, get help straight away. Early diagnosis, early fitting of hearing aids and an early start on special education will give your child the best chances for successful speech and language development. Always follow your gut feeling and let your maternal instincts guide you.

Thursday, July 30, 2015, 16:49 | No Comments »
By Barbara Kellett, speech therapist

The popular author Paulo Coelho says that 'travel is about courage"....
Now I know he is referring to packing ones bags... setting sail for new lands and discovering new vistas, but his stories are also symbolic and allude tothe inner journey of self discovery ....and this travel requires just as much, if not more, courage to go the distance.
I work with families of young children who are profoundly deaf – who do not benefit adequately from hearing aid technology to have the ease of access to sound to develop spoken language through hearing - These babies, infants, toddlers and/or preschoolers will require a cochlear implant ... and I will be required to provide the (re) habilitation that supports their journey to sound.... perhaps both parties are journeying.... perhaps both require courage.
Courage is sometimes there from the beginning but very often it has to be found, dug deep for, nurtured and fanned into an action that can sustain change and growth and it is often here, in the search for courage, that our journey together begins....
I first met Kaylin and Jonene when they had already walked some steps on their journey. Kaylin's cochlear implant surgery was done and the electrodes had just been activated, she was an active 18 month old toddler but already a seasoned traveller to challenge. Jonene and her family had journeyed to the place every family fears: losing their child. They had already courageously fought for their daughter to live and here we were just a little bit further down a very bumpy road with no clear view of what lay ahead ... we sat at the same table for many, many months.... and as these stretched into years our stories together grew and intertwined and together we worked out the what's and why's of Kaylin. I also watched as this courageous mom found the strength to engage with her daughters deafness as well as gain insight into Kaylin's additional challenges – as she found the strength and courage to advocate for Kaylin and then found a voice to help beyond her family and child.
At the start, with each family, I have no magic insight into how the journey to sound and listening will progress; in fact starting without any preconceived notions of the outcome is a good thing. I have no way of really knowing what it will take to get to speech and language through listening....there are too many variables, too many unknowns for a recipe approach.I have me: the human, the clinician.... I can carefully and skilfully observe; I can truly listen and empathise; I can use my clinical expertise, knowledge and skill to support the process ......but what am I really supporting?
There is an African proverb that says: if you wish to move mountains tomorrow you must start by lifting stones today....
Within each clinician is a rescuer – a little part of us who wants to swoop in to make things better..... who is willing and capable of lifting those stones.... But our power lies not in doing the heavy lifting, this is not sustainable nor desirable, our power lies in finding and exploring the families "wish to move the mountain".... Supporting this wish empowers families to find their own path; to strap on their own boots, roll up their own sleeves and get the job done stone by stone....
A clinicians need to be needed is a clinical death dance, especially when families perceive themselves to be helpless (David Luterman) but an empowered parent is a parent who will make sure that their child receives every bit of help they need; An empowered parent will make a plan , will do what it takes; an empowered parent will be the voice for their child in the beginning and then the chorus behind it.... An empowered parent has the will to move that mountain.
Philospher Loa Tsu says to become knowledgeable we gather information but to become wise we have to let it go.... part of what I do is provide the information and skills needed: for purposeful play; for engaged interaction;for developing listening as the primary means of acquiring speech and language; for setting appropriate expectations; for following a developmental progression and being accountable for monitoring needs and outcomes. I know the science behind my art and can share it with the family.... But they need to go beyond this knowledge and become wise with their children and the world of hearing loss. They need to get to the 'whole' from all the pieces.
I see courage, action and wisdom before me every day and I am humbled by it. I am grateful for the opportunity to journey alongside every family andI stand in awe at the 5 year journey that this family have made together.
They are stronger and fitter then when we first met; they poses courage and intent and they shine with hard won wisdom.

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