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Teaching a teen

Teaching a newly arrived teen-ager…

She knows her name. She can even print it legibly as well as the names of her family members. She can’t write her address or the name of her town. She doesn’t know the names of her foster family members.

She is 13 years old. She arrived at ESD on Thursday, 25 February 2010 at 8:35 a.m. She was timid for the first 10 minutes and then began to chat.

She knows some print words – SOL (sun) for example. She knows the sign for FLOWER but not the printed word. She can add 5+3 to get 8 but doesn’t readily do 5-3.

In two school days, she offered 6 hours of rebellion or disobedience or resistance. One of her best moves is to put her head on the table with her eyes tucked tightly into her elbow. No way you can talk to a deaf child who is not looking your way.

On the other side, she has a brilliant smile, is a quick study, and gives good hugs. She enjoys using a camera and we are using that to begin to work on names of people at school.

Today she understood and told me MONDAY NO EYES CLOSED YES SMILE YES EAT BREAKFAST HOME YES GOOD WE ICE-CREAM

Oh how I hope she remembers this on Monday!

March 10, 2010

She’s been at ESD for 8 school days. Today was the first day she did not sleep. She came to school happy though she argued with her foster mother about things this morning.

She counts to about 50 without a problem but over that seems like new territory.

She still has not learned people’s names or many name signs for them. Today we took pictures of her with each person, printed the pictures in wallet sized format, cut them out and had everyone fingerspell their names to her. Selena wrote their names and took a page to do for homework. When she sees someone sign K she is not sure what to print for that.

Selena is now able to spontaneously write The boy jumps. (Story One, Book One in Reading Milestones.) When she sees a picture with the caption “Johanely jumps” she signs, “the girl jumps.” When shown the NAME, she corrects to using the name sign for Johanely – her best friend at ESD. Today, we began story two – The girl runs. She did well on the paperwork – now that she is familiar with it!

We negotiated Walgreen’s today to pick up some printed photos. I bought her a photo album and we are collecting pictures of Selena for her own keeping. She has not pictures of her family with her and being with a foster family means she has no way to get her OWN things from home right now. It’s important for her to have her own things and so we are collecting things that can be hers.

As we draw pictures of family and recent events, I am including GOD (in the drawings, He sits on a throne in the clouds above us, wearing a crown and holding his arms out to show He is blessing and being attentive to us). When I drew a picture of my heart with GOD in it, she smiled. I drew her with a big empty heart – WHAT IN YOUR HEART? I asked. She wrote her name, asked me to spell my name which she wrote under her name and the word AMOR (love). I am glad she loves me. I pray she will come to love GOD too.

In today’s drawing, God stood up and put His arms around a sad faced Selena. I know He want to comfort her. I know He is comforting me as I walk with her through this time. Pray for us!

March 16, 2010

Today Selena learned to spell NEW. This morning for the first time in two weeks, she fought about getting out of the car. So many NEW experiences in a short time and she was a bit nervous. Eventually she did come out – how long can one stay in a car in direct sunlight without needing some kind of escape!?

After talking about some of the NEW experiences and her older life experiences for comparison, she told me a story which I printed on a paper and read back to her – trying to establish the relationship between SIGNED and PRINT language.

She is now able to read about 10 words including AMOR, DOG, BOY, GIRL, JUMPS. RUNS. WALKS, SITS, SWINGS. After reading these words in simple stories, she went out to take some pictures. Her work is right on the mark and we are happy with the great progress she has shown in so brief a time.

Trust is growing on both sides of the relationship and whenever we get to talk about God, Selena looks very content. I pray this means she has come to understand WHO God is and that some day she will be able to share her testimony with us!

Role playing acting stubborn because of NEW things.
Learning to explain her feelings rather than just acting stubborn. Due to the situation surrounding her, we are not able to show Selena’s face… but you see she is a healthy girl. Most of the time, she is happy too!

Selena develops more trust as she enjoys the beach with some visiting friends.

April 5, 2010

Selena was home for the past 10 days. In returning to classes, she has forgotten many of the words she was able to read. She caught on with prompts but it was difficult to motivate her to continue to try.

Today, with help from a classmate, Selena wrote sentences. “Johanely jumps.” “Betsy sits.” Then they embarked in stories to irritate… “Selena sits in the car. Betsy walks to the car. Selena stands. Betsy smiles.” All with pictures to illustrate. It was a fun lesson and smiles ended the day.

Today Selena met the handbells. She did a little freak out – NO NOT ME I DO NOT LIKE. But, with some cajolling she stood by the bell tables. When her family arrived to pick her up, she decided she should play a bell. Once she started, she learned it is as easy as shaking her arm and she was hooked. She left with a smile and a feeling of success. Her foster mother played the flute… now we are coaxing her to practice and try to play the part of the C Instrument with our bell accompaniment!

April 13, 2010

We have presented the Gospel to Selena many times in different ways. Today, after chapel, a visitor from our work team was crying. Selena asked her if she was sad. “No, I am happy in Jesus” was the response. I encouraged her to explain more and she did. Selena sat down and LISTENED closely.

Soon, she was confronted with the question, “WHAT ABOUT YOU AND JESUS? DO YOU WANT JESUS IN YOUR HEART TO STAY?”

YES signed Selena. She followed in a prayer and then was able to explain how Jesus died for her sins. She repeatedly told us through the day MY HEART, JESUS IN STAY with a giant smile on her face.

This young lady still needs to learn so many things but through the power of God in her life, we know that she will be growing and learning so much more than just new words.

April 22, 2010

Our new teen now sits quietly and confidently in with the elementary class as they do calendar time, handwriting/cursive/printing, and some other classes.

I think your average 14 year old would not be too compliant in this situation but Selena invited herself one day to the younger kids’ classroom. She is short and Larimar who is almost 10 is tall so these two girls look about the same age. They are doing the same cursive letters in their writing and Larimar is able to help Selena with some things.

It has been a good pairing of children and both girls are developing more confidence in their school work.

We had a Monday holiday this week. In our daily journal, I showed Selena that there were several days to NOT come to school. I was SO excited when she took another piece of paper and copied the list for her foster mom!

I felt this was a great step in demonstrating understanding of the usefulness of words. When she arrived, she was only able to write the names of her family. She is not able to tell us names of her interpreters from her public schools before. But now she knows that by writing words on paper, she can communicate and hold on to ideas.

What will she come up with next?

May 25, 2010

Our dear girl came on our last day of school and once again battled about entering the chapel. She came in accompanied by her foster mom. When I sat beside her, I spelled N-E-W ? She nodded to me. Yes, NEW things are scarey. NEW would begin tomorrow with a change in schedule. Not seeing old friends for several weeks. Not knowing what would happen next. Not having a predictable day.

Well, Selena has come far in her 10 weeks with us. She is able to read about 18 words. She is able to pay attention for 3 minutes (at the most). She is able to subtract and add using a number line. She is able to work cooperatively with her teachers and the younger students. She is able to provoke her peers with insinuatory comments.

From the chapel that day, Selena accompanied her teacher to the classroom where they discussed the many NEW things she had experienced since coming to ESD. Then she helped to put award certificates into protective folders. She saw HER NAME on one which was intentionally left out for her to see and then as intentionally hidden from her view. Oh how she cooperated after that!

She glowed as her name was presented for the award. She beamed as she walked up to receive it. Had anyone every applauded her efforts before? She was presented with a certificate for “Overcoming Adversity” words she does not know but words which we know to be true.

She sat attentively through the message presented and then, when the principal asked if the BELL CHOIR would play, our dear Selena who had cried and fussed when she SAW the bells in March, nodded and leapt out of her chair to be the first to pick up her bell gloves.

Selena did not return to ESD in the Fall of 2010. Those in charge of her now have determined that returning to the public system of education would serve her well enough. How sad that the huge strides we saw in her for those three months mean nothing to those in places of making decisions.

Pray for the Deaf of our island! For ever child we see like Selena, there must be another 200 out there waiting to be taught of Jesus’ love, and a language by which to talk with new Deaf friends.

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