Reading with Dad


Introducing books to Carter is fun! He loves sitting on someones knee and sharing / eating a book!

Carter’s caregiver adds photos to his journal and its so lovely to see his face light up as he looks at photos of himself and others and the activities they have done that day.

He particularly loves looking at photos of ‘Brown Dog’!



In this video Carter is 5 months old and he is already attending to the book and to Oliver. You can see the way Oliver gains Carter’s attention by repeatedly pointing to a photo as well as repeatedly tapping him on the upper arm. Carter is learning that this is a means of gaining attention. Holding him tight with the left arm, frees up the right hand to produce the signs on the pageCarter is now trying to create handshapes (you can see a quick snippet of this at the end of the clip as Oliver signs duck)


Here is Carter enjoying the book by himself. These board books are great with the finger puppet included – the movement is engaging and attracts the baby’s attention.


And here is Oliver reading the same book to Carter. Notice how he is sitting with Carter, frees both of his arms so he can hold the book and sign and ‘hold’ the baby. As baby becomes more mobile this hold will not be safe. But in this small window of time where it is, its a great way to enjoy books and conversations together.

Depending on your level of comprehension in NZSL you may or may not realise that Oliver is not sticking to the text in the book. He is loosely telling the story, exaggerating signs and making it fun for Carter to watch and enjoy.

This is a really important part of enjoying books with little ones. Don’t stress over which signs you know and don’t know. Work from the pictures and follow the child’s interest and eye gaze. Explore the book together and create a story that you feel you can sign!


Reading with Deaf Children

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“He won’t have to be Deaf for long”

In the past 4 months, I have made so many trips to audiology and ENT, it’s mind-boggling!

The path to identification was a very different experience to that which we had with Zoe, 14 years ago. This time round we went through newborn hearing screening and were referred to audiology after two screening sessions resulted in ‘refer’. So we had confirmation when Carter was 15 days old as opposed to confirmation for Zoe at 15 months.

The screening sessions themselves were bizarre! I have been in many meetings where the process was discussed and the training for the screeners was mentioned. One of the things that stuck in my mind was that the screeners were trained to be very impartial in their dealings with the families. That they were not to use the word ‘fail’ and were to explain to families the many reasons for a ‘refer’ result eg fluid retention, noise interference, hearing loss. The main point was that the screeners are not to ‘scare’ the families, or advise them.

However, our experience of newborn hearing screening was different.

The screener entered the room pushing a trolley with a laptop on it. This was a shock initially as I had in my mind that the equipment they used for the screening was small handheld device. Instead it was a laptop and the a ‘half a headphone’ looking device that was held to Carter’s head.

ABR (image from Google)

I could see the laptop screen as the screening was happening. The graph had a green bar at the top and as the test began a black line appeared and tracked along the bottom of the graph, nowhere near the green bar. The screener looked unsettled and suggested that we try the other ear, same result. This created a ‘refer’ result.

The next day, another screener came in and repeated the test. The same result showed on the graph. I asked the screener was she expecting to see the black line to track within the green section her response was ‘yes we would hope so’. The result was ‘refer’ again.

The screener explained to me that we would need to go and see an audiologist for testing and that they would confirm/clarify what was happening. Then she dropped a clanger! she said “if he is Deaf, he wouldn’t have to be Deaf for long as they do cochlear implants very quickly now a days”! She then went on to tell me about the lovely cleaning lady who worked at the hospital – she had a cochlear implant and she could speak clearly, she wasn’t lonely and was happy! she even offered to bring the cleaner into the room for me to meet!

The ABR process was completely different! The audiologist was lovely! She gave me time to get Carter off to sleep and gave me breaks in the testing when she could see that he was beginning to stir.

She was also very unbiased and gave me information about everything!! (She had no idea that I worked in the field) – I felt like a mystery shopper! It was excellent to know that following the ABR where the results were conclusive and showed that Carter has a ‘profound bilateral hearing loss’ she proceeded to present me with information on hearing aids, NZSL, cochlear implants the lot! She even presented me with the ‘Sign with your baby’ DVD 😉 – she didn’t realise that I am the presenter on it 🙂 Sign with Your Baby

I really appreciated her balanced approach.

Hearing Aids:

We now have regular visits to audiology for new molds – due to the rate of growth of a newborn’s ears! The hearing aids are pretty powerful as they need to amplify the sound so much to meet Carter’s levels.

They give out a lot of feedback although the aural gel seems to be helping with that. He cannot hear the high pitch whistle, but I can. And so can shoppers in the mall (had a few strange looks from people at the shops!)

I am a bit slack with putting them on. Many days I am in the car and down the road when I remember that the hearing aids are still in the box on the table (oops)

I find that Carter tolerates the hearing aids more when he is in his car seat – I like them better when he is in his car seat as the feedback seems to be less.

Part of the newborn hearing screening – identification process, is a visit to the ENT.

We were given the appointment to see the ENT (7pm on a Thursday night!) We saw a locum who had come to Wellington to help reduce numbers on the waiting list for ENT. The appointment should really have been an ‘E’ appointment because it was all about Carter’s ears. He didn’t mention or check his nose or throat.

The focus, from the ENT’s perspective, was to discuss the process for cochlear implants and begin the process. He was taken aback when I politely declined the offer of bilateral cochlear implants. He had never had anyone decline and it didn’t sit well with him. He asked me to outline to him what I saw as being the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of cochlear implants – I have to wonder if he asks other parents, who do opt for CIs, to justify their decision also.

I tried to explain that CI’s are not off the table for discussion, but right now they are not something that we want for Carter. I see it as being elective surgery and the ENT did not.

He referred us to a local ENT – meeting her was completely different. She was lovely! Very experienced, knowledgable and respectful. She was happy to take the time and talk through everything. She has left the door open for us to keep in contact with her and ask questions or clarify points as needed.

One professional I have not mentioned in this is our Advisor on Deaf Children (AODC) – I’m sure it must have been weird for her to receive a referral with our names on it. As in my previous work as an AODC we were in the same team:) We are very fortunate to have her. Again she is balanced and respectful. She is a Speech Language therapist and knows NZSL. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience. She is happy to have as much or as little input with us as we see fit.

So although the past 4 months have been a roller coaster of medical visits – we have encountered some fantastic professionals in the field. We are grateful for their work with us.

Just as an aside – The phonak hearing aids came in this cool little bag. Turns out to be the best bottle bag ever! perfect size and keeps the bottles warm 🙂 Thanks Phonak.





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Language Development

Carter is now 4 1/2 months old and one of his favourite things to do is to watch the Hairy Maclary story in NZSL and the NZSL nursery Rhymes app. Watching these apps is like ‘being read to’ he can relax to enjoy the story. This is equivalent to a hearing child relaxing and listening to a story. It also exposes him to a variety of signers and surrounds him with accessible language.

We have even been showing him stories in ASL and BSL, (signed stories) although these are different languages we want him to get use to seeing visual language. Unfortunately there are only a couple of stories for pre schoolers in NZSL. This is an area of need for families in NZ with Deaf and hard of hearing children.


It is interesting to watch where his eyes are tracking while he is watching signing. He is really focussed and moves his eyes from the picture to the signer and back.

I am often asked if Carter is signing yet. No has not produced an actual sign (he’s 4 1/2 months old), he is displaying the building blocks of signs ie Manual babble. So things are on track 🙂

There are particular vocab items that we consciously use repeatedly with him as they carry the most meaning for him in his daily activities. For example

Screenshot (232).png


all of these signs have very simple handshapes and simple movements.

We also make sure that we are repeatedly using the family sign names so that he is exposed to names also.

He is now starting to control the movements of his hands. It was so exciting to see him giggle as he moved his fingers and realised he was in control of them.

In this clip I am signing ‘FINISH’ – I deliberately sign it close to him and then in contact with him, this is so that he can feel the movement of the sign. You can see him take hold of my hand and then as he feels the movement he starts to open and close his fist.





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Open letter to Nyle Dimarco

Hello Nyle: I hope this letter finds you doing well.  I have been meaning to send this to you for some time.  I was not sure how to frame my thoughts, which led me to put it off until now.  I have …

Source: Open letter to Nyle Dimarco

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Acquiring NZSL as a first language

Carter will have NZSL as his first and primary language. Watch the development in 5 short weeks! It’s so exciting to see him becoming more alert and attentive. We are constantly surrounding him with language and then watching as he begins to produce mabble (manual babble).

Watch the clip of how we are interacting with him and providing him with early visual language.

Carter NZSL development 0-5 weeks old

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Sign with your baby – great online resource


Sign NZSL with your baby

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Learning NZSL

Check out the clip of Bella and Nana signing!


Easter weekend away with Great Nana, Nana and Grandad, aunties, uncles and all but 2 cousins was a great opportunity to share and use NZSL. Wee Bella is 11 months old and was able to produce the sign for BABY after a couple of attempts!! Fantastic to see Nana interacting with Carter in NZSL.

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