Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Adventures with the MooLoo herd

I wasn’t going to post today, but since ya’ll are enjoying my camp adventures and requested more, I guess I will. ;-) Today I worked in the 5th and 6th grade class in the morning and that was almost more challenging than the younger kids. Almost half of the ten kids in that class have learning problems, or at least attention problems. They are all great kids, though, and their play, “The Emperor’s New Wig” (lol, they figured a kid running around acting that he was bald was better than acting that he was naked) is coming along nicely.

In one scene, when the Emperor is parading down the street in his invisible “wig,” all the townspeople are ooing and awing. In the skit the teacher is having them stand in a line and have a ripple of comments move down the line as the Emperor walks along it. It was a challenge for the kids to say their line smoothly, without long pauses as they realized it was their turn, so we spent part of the day practicing rhythmic turn-taking games like clapping games. It was cool to see them improve throughout the day until they could do it smoothly.

This morning a Deaf-Blind woman visiting the area from Seattle came by and spent a little time in each of the classrooms, explaining a little about life as a Deaf-Blind person and letting the kids ask questions. I’ve gotten to meet Deaf-Blind people a few times before, but not often, so it was a great learning experience for all of us.

The woman explained how, just as each Deaf person has a different level of hearing loss, so does each Deaf-Blind person have varying levels of hearing and vision. This lady has Usher’s Syndrome--a hereditary disease that results in the person being born deaf and then gradually getting tunnel vision that grows smaller and smaller throughout young adulthood. She gave us a glimpse of what life is like for her by having us roll up a piece of paper into a tight tube and then look through it with one eye.

Depending on their visibility issues, different communication methods are used for the Deaf-Blind. Some can see signing, but need tight signs in a very small area, or very close to their face. Some even need it far away, perhaps on the other side of the room, in order to see it best. This lady, and most of the Deaf-Blind people I’ve met, used tactile signing. She had two aids who took fifteen minute turns feeding her signs and visual information. She would lay a hand gently over her helper’s dominate hand, and he would sign pretty much normally. When a student asked a question, he would indicate their raised hand and point in the direction of the child. She’d motion for the student to go ahead and then the aid would copy-sign (repeat) all the child’s signs so she could feel them.

In the afternoon I was an aid for a young lady student who is loosing her hearing and starting to learn sign language. Since she can still hear quite well, but doesn’t know much sign, I was voicing the signing and such so she could follow along with what was going on in her high school class. During the time I was there the class was practicing on the real stage, so it was a challenge to be able to see what all was going on, not get in the way of the other actors, but still be close enough to her so she could hear me. Often actors had their back to me, and I haven’t quite learned the art of x-ray vision yet, to see through their backs to their hands. ;-) She was easy-going and content with whatever I could tell her, so that made it stress-free.

Mostly she was enjoying playing with her character’s imaginary herd of cattle. ;-) They were following her all over campus, you understand, and she had to watch out that no one stepped on them. They are miniature MooLoo cows--about a foot tall with purple bodies and pink hearts on their chests. They’ve been in the bovine military, so they were quite orderly and well-behaved, until they got hungry (then they went kinda crazy and started eating people’s shoes. Note to self: beware of hungry MooLoo cattle!).

I spent most of the day standing, so my feet are pretty sore and my ankle and wrist joints have been complaining (goes along with fibromyalgia, I think), but I can tell ya’ll are praying for me because I’ve been holding up remarkably well, at least until I can crash at home. The week is going by so fast!



Joanne Sher said...

So much to learn (especially for me!). This sounds like it has been an absolutely wonderful experience for you, Amy. I would be endlessly fascinated.

Laury said...

Amy, I am so very proud of you! Keep on doing all you can. Enjoy these experiences. Keep on going, my friend. Life is worth the pain that comes with it, that's what I've decided anyway.

purple_kangaroo said...

It sounds like a great experience!