Locked Down again! It is very frustrating for us all and the Team is feeling very frustrated, we love getting out and about meeting up with our cueing families, and our partners from other services and charities and most irritating of all is the fact that we haven’t been able to bring all of our fundraising ideas to fruition. HOWEVER…This has not deterred us and we have been busy thinking and getting creative for Christmas….and just in general.
New Fundraising Ideas
We are continuing to think creatively to find new ways to raise funds for our charity during a time where charities are facing unprecedented financial challenges.
Firstly, we now have a fantastic online raffle for you to take part in, with three amazing prizes including a £200 first prize in Argos Vouchers, a Fat Face voucher for £30, and Dairy basket full of Riverford Dairy goodies worth £20.
Just click on this link and it will take you straight to our Raffle!
Christmas Cards are Here!
We also have some brilliant Christmas cards taken from designs that the children at Eggbuckland put together which you can find on our website in our fancy new shop. Just head over to www.cuedspeech.co.uk and click on the tab for our shop and you can buy our cards; our Cued Speech “At A Glance” Chart and even download some of our most popular sing a long Cued Speech videos:
Wayne Kenny - 365 Fundraising Swim for Cued Speech
And finally there is the small matter of Wayne Kenny braving the cold sea every day for 365 Days to raise funds for Cued Speech!
Wayne is the Husband of our very own Kathy Kenny - Senior Cued Speech
Kathy Kenny - Senior Cued Speech Family Advisor
So life in the Kenny household is never dull!
Last Thursday I was engaged with the Military wives on a zoom rehearsal which is a reasonably bizarre experience in itself. Basically, I sing to the choir from the comfort of my home and piano and they are all ‘muted’ because if they unmute and sing ‘together’ the cacophony of sound is quite something to behold!!
After this ‘Covid’ unique experience which has now become a part of my ‘new normal’ my husband needed to go out into the dark to do his daily swim. This has also become another part of my ‘new normal’! So I go and find my warmest layers to swamp myself in as well as hat, gloves and scarf and I make myself a travel mug of tea.
Meanwhile Wayne and our daughter Imogen prepare themselves with swimming attire and towel to brave the icy waters. We then drive for 20minutes to the nearest stretch of sea water which is called Bowcombe Creek. Lighting and camera at the ready I then stand at the waters edge and try to keep the camera still while shivering as Wayne and Imogen run into the freezing water as if it is the most natural thing to do. I then hear cries of ‘ Oh it’s wonderful in here!’ and ‘it’s really not that cold.’ Wayne and Imogen emerge from the dark waters a few minutes later exhilarated by their night swim and can’t wait to repeat the experience again!!
Emotional Logic Training and Support for Families with Deaf Children
I have had the opportunity to learn about a tool to help people adjust to change in their lives called ‘Emotional Logic’.
Emotional Logic is about being able to have ‘creative conversations’ that enable a person to understand their emotions better, recognise that all our uncomfortable emotions have useful purposes, identify losses that have occurred because of a difficult situation and then make a SMART plan to enable life to move forward positively.
On a weekly basis I have met with my tutor who has taught me the basics of Emotional Logic which has become a very popular tool for use in schools to help children who are non-attenders as well as those who exhibit challenging behaviour. I can see this system being very useful with talking to parents who all are adjusting to the change of having a deaf child in their family.
So far, I have finished my foundation training and am near to completing the coaching award. I will then have a few months of completing the accreditation process before I can start using my skills more widely.
Spreading the Cued Speech message across the World!
Over the last few months I have had the joy of working with a family of 7 in Perth Australia. They contacted Cued Speech after their youngest child was deafened by Meningitis.
Currently there is no one recommending Cued Speech in Australia but they came across our website and began to discuss with Cate over emails what cued speech could do to ‘recover’ their daughter’s language which was age appropriate before this medical trauma. I then started to meet them on zoom to start teaching them all to cue.
By the time I met them for the first time Marie (mum) had already learnt to cue by using the online self-study course. So I have spent 2 hours a week with them in half hour slots.
My day starts with Martha who is 12 and can now cue everything she says and has started to film herself cueing stories. I then have 10 minutes with Jacinta who is 7 and we play some cueing games and sing to remember the vowel placements. Gabriel who is 17 is next and he has learnt the system and can cue most words and just needs more practice.
Later in the day I meet with Martin (dad) who is rather bamboozled by the talents of his wife and children and he is learning the system well and practising when he can. Marie and I have a session together where I can check her cueing skills and talk about how to put cued speech into action.
Marie home schools and so she has many demands on her time as well as coming to terms with her child’s acquired deafness and the effect of this on them all. Finally, on a less regular basis I meet with Sebastain who is 21 and living away from home. He too has worked out the cued speech system very quickly and will just need practice to catch up with Martha!
An Update from Cate Calder - Training Lead
Cued Speech Literacy Game
Cate Calder has been continuing to develop her literacy game with the Robotica Team and her online webinar for Manchester University was well received.
The Bronze (beginner level) of the online game will introduce users to the Cued Speech avatar in a fun way and help them learn to cue and cue-read sixty simple words. Michael Davey of Robotica and Harrison Pidgeon our graphic designer are working hard to turn my rather complicated descriptions of how I think this could look into a working product and I am very grateful for their skills and patience. The aims of the game at this stage are:
Bronze level: Vocabulary building and phonics skills (phonetic awareness, sounding-out, synthesising and blending) with Cued Speech. The user will be introduced to all 44 phonemes in English by learning to synthesise and blend these sounds within sixty simple words from beautiful high colour photographs. They will learn how each sound in the words can be given a consistent visual cue (from the Cued Speech system) and how these are blended-together to create the words. They will be able to test these skills and secure their learning throughout with the help of the cueing avatar Cassie and will have practiced cueing and cue reading* all sixty words by the end of this level. Can be used by anyone wanting to learn how to cue (families and professionals, particularly in Early Years education) and by children themselves. (*recognising a word by seeing it cued).
Hopefully a prototype will be ready for testing soon and the next two levels – Silver and Gold – are already planned and ready for development once funds allow.
To make all these amazing resources available requires a lot of money and to support our brave and tireless fund-raisers Robotica are creating short films that can be included in funding bids. In October this entailed turning our office manager Debbie Hawke’s beautiful home into a film location! We worked with two professional film-makers from a company called Creative Grid when they came to Devon to capture our cueing experts in action. It was not an easy undertaking with all the strict Covid regulations to conform to but the filming went really well thanks to everyone’s hard work and professionalism (and excellent script-learning!)
Our thanks goes to Robotica, Ralph and Liam from Creative Grid, to the super-professional Maisey Down and Karen Weir, the brilliant deafness expert Lee Fullwood and to Debbie Hawke for not only being a great host but an excellent wardrobe assistant as she made the fun T-shirt that Maisey wears in the films!
Maisey Down being filmed talking about deafness, supported by Karen Weir
Maisey and Karen Weir ‘on set’!
Resident expert – Lee Fullwood TOD
A day in the life of Sagira Jetha
Cued Speech Family Advisor working with Hertfordshire Hearing Impaired Service
630am and the alarm rings - but don’t worry, I snooze it a good few times before I drag myself out of bed! One too many episodes of my favourite box set last night means I’m feeling it now!
I say my morning prayers and get dressed for the day which includes painting my face so I don’t scare any children. If any of you know me, lipstick is a must.
I make breakfast for the children, tidy my kitchen, and unload the dishwasher. I then drop my son to the station so he can catch the coach to school. Then it is back home for a few minutes to fill my boot with bags of toys and books. I take my little one (who’s not so little 11 but still my baby) up the M1 and drop her to school. By this time I’m often feeling like I’ve done half a day’s work and in desperate need of a caffeine fix.
I like to book my first visit for 930am as it allows me enough traveling time. My first visit of the day will usually be in the north or east of the borough which is around 25-40 miles from home. When I arrive at my first visit I have a rummage around in the boot and pick out toys and resources that will specifically support and develop the child I am seeing. The TOD’s that I work with send me reports with goals they would like the children to achieve which makes it easier to plan and allows me to structure my sessions accordingly.
The first 15 mins of any home visit are spent catching up with the parent over a cuppa as there is always so much to share. It allows parents to off load and talk through any concerns and anxieties. This is a crucial aspect of the family support role as it allows parents the head space to then take on the advice and ideas I share later in the visit. These are points can then be absorbed better and hopefully implemented long after I have left.
I find the best way to get the children to co operate is to get down to their level, sit on the floor with them and have fun. I start by leading activities demonstrating how to play with them and then allow the child to take it where they want to. I use Cues, signs, lots of language and expression when interacting with the children. Sometimes it can feel silly but its vital to show parents that all these reactions are crucial to their child’s development.
With families who are learning to Cue, I will have a short activity planned where we practice hand shapes and some words and phrases. We always Cue a simple story which I then leave with the family to practice with during the week.
Onwards and upwards to my subsequent visits which all follow a similar pattern, although I try and personalise visits wherever possible. I know some children may enjoy dough or drawing so I make sure I have these items at hand to keep them entertained. Most of my little ones enjoy singing and my repertoire of nursery rhymes is a tad prehistoric. I do try to listen and learn the new and trendy songs but competing with You Tube is now proving to be a challenge - Baby shark is about as good as it gets!
I endeavour to keep visits to a maximum of one hour which enables me to see 3-4 families a day. With a case load of 15 families, I need to use my time efficiently. I try and time my last visit to allow me to collect my daughter from school. This works as many families prefer visits before 330pm.
Once home I say my afternoon prayers and prepare dinner for the family. Due to the pandemic I use different toys at each visit and have disinfect all the toys at the end of the day. I usually spend time in the evenings writing up notes from my visits and planning for the next day.
The day ends with dinner, catching up with the kids, watching one of my favourite box sets and zzzzz before it all starts again the next day!!
A Day in the life of Tobin Broadbent. Speech and Language Support Assistant at Eggbuckland School Plymouth.
Tobin has been working as a Freelance Cued Speech and British Sign Language Support Assistant within the deaf education centre at Eggbuckland Vale Primary School in Plymouth. Tobin has language in his hands, (as he would like to say) he is a British Sign language user and he has his Level 2 in Cued Speech.
Tobin’s activities are split into several areas. He supports Lisa a Deaf child with BSL as a first language, as both her parents are also Deaf BSL users. Lisa finds it challenging and probably a bit frustrating to learn English but it is imperative that she does because English is the language of literacy and education. Using Cued Speech, Tobin helps Lisa see speech sounds.
In the afternoon Tobin works with three delightful deaf boys aged 7 - 9, while they are from different age groups, they all have individual language strengths which are well matched. My job is to help expand their recognition of spoken vocabulary and we do this by choosing a topic, such as ‘vehicles’, and then I ask them to find different parts, or describe different types of vehicle. At the end of the lesson we play a game where I give them directions to move a particular vehicle around a play car park. The challenge is for the boys to recognise the spoken word with Cued Speech before we’re allow to take action!
“My last session in the day is called ‘PUD’ a Personal Understanding of Deafness, which I do with a small group deaf pupils, which provides a good foundation for these children to build positive deaf identities. My work is really varied and very rewarding, with plenty of opportunities to support the hearing children as well and I have to say that sometimes I use the clues of Cues to help them with their phonetics because Cued Speech really does make language accessible for all.”
Cued Speech Self-Study Update
Our online self-study is going from strength to strength with even more schools signing up to buy group licences.
It is a real testimony to the creative work that the charity have been doing as we have embraced modern technology to find different ways to teach Cued Speech to children; families and professionals.
The processes that we had already put in place to teach online via Zoom meant that we were already well acquainted with this technology once the original lock down started. And by creating our online self-study Foundation course in Cued Speech, we have been successful in reaching a wide range of people who have not only signed up for our course, but many of whom have completed their Foundation!
134 people have signed up since the 1st April. 13 have already qualified and quite a few are close to completing their Foundation! In fact as soon as the new lockdown started we had another school sign up which means that we now have 11 schools and specialist services onboard.
Just as a reminder the self-study is only £20 for professionals; £50 for a group licence for 10 people and most importantly FREE for families in the UK with a deaf child:
Ela and Dominik - A Family tell their story about the transformation impact of Cued Speech on their lives.
I would like to introduce you to Ela and Dominik through their story and some wonderful photos that Ela has given me permission to share. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to interview her:
Dominik was born in 2015 following a normal pregnancy for Ela and he was born with a very rare genetic condition which effects all of his bones and cartilage which has meant that his spine has been effected and he has to use a wheel chair, he also has shorter fingers and therefor poor dexterity. The condition has effected the little bones of his inner ear, fusing them together so that he can’t hear very well and he uses hearing aids.
Ela said; “It was a shock at first, I had no experience of this disease in our family and no experience of deafness. At the time of his birth I didn’t prioritise his hearing loss because there seemed to be so many things to worry about. I felt very unprepared and to be honest when he was a tiny baby I didn’t really notice the impact of his hearing loss, he looked at me, smiled, responded in the same way as I imagined a hearing baby would.”
Ela continues; “It wasn’t until he went to nursery that I noticed the difference between Dominic and the other hearing children and I realised how much his language was delayed. I had done Makaton and I had been learning BSL, which was fun at a single word level but very challenging to make whole sentences using the correct grammar, it is after all a completely different language to English.”
Ela and Dominic continued to use some sign-supported-English at nursery and in the meantime Ela worked hard to get Dominik an Education and Health Care Plan, this resulted in Dominik being offered a place in the deaf education centre at Eggbuckland school. The school are using Cued Speech to support the deaf children in the unit to access English and literacy and they are very excited with the results that they are seeing in their pupils.
Ela told me that Dominic had had phonic sessions with a Teacher of the Deaf so that when he started primary school he could say single words and point at objects, he was very clever at making himself understood non-verbally.
Ela told me; “Dominic started school with single words only but now, after only one year at school and with me cueing to him at home he comes home and tells me what he has been doing at school, the change is unbelievable. He reads every day and if he is struggling with a word, I read it, then cue it and then he says it, in effect he ‘sees’ what I am saying and he repeats it with 100% accuracy, its incredible.”
“How was it for you home-schooling during lockdown?” I asked, “It was very stressful and when you have a child with additional needs you personally want to be able to provide the best possible support, I didn’t want him to fall behind, or to waste the progress that he had made at school, so having Kathy (family support practitioner) was so helpful. With Kathy’s support I was able to cue favourite stories and books to Dominic and access all the cued videos, stories and songs on the web-site.”
“If you could talk to other parents with a deaf or hard of hearing child what would you like to say to them; “Dominik has a very rare condition and so his long-term prognosis is unknown, he may deteriorate further, including his hearing, he may not get any worse, so I want to make sure that he has as many skills as possible.
With Cued Speech he will have the language to communicate with his family and friends and he will be able to read books, his literacy and learning will not be compromised by his deafness, he will have equal opportunities to live his life to the full like his friends who can hear.”
“Is there anything else you would like to say about Cued Speech?” “Yes, two things, one is, if I could go back to the beginning, I wish I had started to cue right from the start and secondly, since his language has improved through cued speech, he is so much more confident, he says hello when he meets people and is confident enough to answer questions, it’s amazing. I want to say such a big thank you to the charity for providing everything for free because some parents can’t pay for training, they can’t afford it. Language is for life, it is a right not a privilege and Cued Speech really does change lives.”
Thank you Ela, what an amazing Mum you are. Ela passed her Level 1 in cueing in the Summer following lockdown, Dominik is back at school now and is excited about learning, he is a bright, sparky independent little boy who has a bright future.