Lance Allred Cavs Update

On Tuesday I posted about Lance Allred, the NBA’s first deaf basketball player. Since then, I ran across another article on him which detailed his struggles in getting to his sport’s highest level.

Most of this article details the difficulty that “minor league” basketball players go through in scraping up enough money to live (and mentions he has been signed to a second 10-day contract), but one piece stood out.

Allred is the former East High School player who went on to the University of Utah, where his basketball experience was ruptured by rough treatment put upon him by former Ute coach Rick Majerus. The 6-foot-11 center, who had overcome physical ailments, severe hearing impairment, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a family environment that, for a time, was polygamous, had been verbally abused, called, he says, by his former coach a deaf, dumb f—” and a “disgrace to cripples” in front of his teammates.

The article goes on to discuss how his coach Rick Majerus (a quite famous basketball coach) resigned shortly after. I had no idea.

It’s unfortunate that this type of discrimination goes on in general, but it’s even more despicable that this coach said these derogatory remarks in front of his teammates. I’d love to hear the coach’s version of the story, but assuming it is true, it really makes me lose a lot of respect for Majerus.

What do you think? What’s the worst thing you, a friend or family member has been called.


Deaf NBA Player Has Cochlear Implants

Lance Allred was just signed to a 10-day contract by the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. While a fantastic accomplishment in itself, his stint in the NBA is even more spectacular considering he is deaf.

Lance has had around a 75% loss of hearing since birth, but now has (bilateral?) cochlear implants. In one article he described his implants as helping him hear most sounds, but when sounds are coming from behind him, sometimes he misses it. The result, he said, was that he’d been “wiped out” on several screens while playing basketball. Anyone who’s played knows what that’s like!

I’m not clear on whether Lance has one implant or two. I’ll try to keep an eye out for him during the next few Cavs games, but if anyone knows for certain, please let me know.

Congratulations to Lance!

Speech-Language Pathology Semi-Annual Evaluation

Drew has attended two, hour long, therapy sessions a week since his cochlear implants were activated in June of 2007. He sees a teacher for the Regional Infant Hearing Program, a therpist from the Auditory Oral Children’s Center and an SLP from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. We attend therapy to learn ways to stimulate Drew’s communication skills, but mostly it is nice to have therapists that can gauge how well Drew is hearing and how he is progressing. (As a side note, we will be adjusting Drew’s therapy begining in June to one therapy per week.)

Drew’s SLP completed his semi-annual evaluation this week. It’s hard to believe that time is going by so quickly. Drew has been hearing for nearly nine months now – he’s almost been hearing for half as long as he has been alive! Wow!

Drew’s progress has been amazing. (I knew it was possible, but when you are wading through all of the doctors appointments and pre-surgical consults, it is hard to believe sometimes that you child will hear! For those in that place right now – it will happen! Hang in there!) The transformation we have seen, even in the past weeks, is remarkable. But it is really nice to see the progress on paper. Below is the report our SLP conducts every six months. Drew met all of his short term goals. Go Drew!

Treatment Plan: These goals have been established to develop the necessary performance components required for functional skills typical of Andrew’s age or developmental level.

Short term goals:

Using right cochlear implant, and given no visual cues, Drew will respond to environmental sounds for 8/10 opportunities. Met 9/13/07.

Using left cochlear implant, and given no visual cues, Drew will respond to environmental sounds for 8/10 opportunities. Met 9/13/07.

Using right cochlear implant, and given no visual cues, Drew will respond to voice/speech sounds for 8/10 opportunities. Met 12/13/07.

Using left cochlear implant, and given no visual cues, Drew will respond to voice/speech sounds for 8/10 opportunities. Met 12/13/07.

Monitor ling sound recognition for both ears and each ear individually. Goal is ongoing; Drew currently detecting all ling sounds at a distance of six feet with background noise.

Drew will discriminate between vowel and consonant differences in same length words. Ongoing.

Drew will begin to show a conditioned play response when presented a sound. Drew showed on 2/15/08 two independent uses of CPR. Drew is emerging the skill of participation in conditioned play response.

Drew will produce voicing of any vowel on demand for 6/10 opportunities. Met 10/18/07.

Drew will imitate at least two different vocal lengths of a vowel sound for 6/10 opportunities. Met 12/13/07.

Drew will produce speech level one sounds (/ah/, /oh/, /ow/, /ee/, /oo/, /b/, /m/, /w/, /n/, /d/, /s/, /sh/) in isolation for 8/10 trials for each sound. Met 2/7/08. All sounds produced spontaneously.

Drew will vocalize (with or without accompanying signs/gestures) to gain attention or indicate a desired action/object for 6/10 opportunities. Met 10/11/07.

Drew will use 10 word approximations following a model/prompt. Met 2/7/08. Drew is adding new words to his expressive vocabulary. He has exceeded this goal.

Long Term/Ongoing Goals:

To develop functional auditory comprehension of spoken language and non-speech sounds a a primary means of receiving information and communication.

To demonstrate age appropriate speech skills in order to utilize verbal communication as the primary means of communicating with others.

To use spoken language as the primary means of communicating in all environments and with all communication partners.

Current Status: Drew has made significant progress since his last progress report. He auditorily can follow a variety of commands, answer some yes/no questions and has dramatically increased his spoken vocabulary and sound repertoire. Andrew has made good progress towards extablished goals.

Stimulating Interaction

How do you get an infant with profound hearing loss to interact with you when you can not get his attention through sound?

It is natural for all babies – hearing and not – to make fun little cooing noises. Babies born with hearing loss do not get any reinforcement of the noises they make, so eventually over time these cooing noises will die out. It is important to try to interact and “talk” to your infant as much as possible to encourage this interaction. We found several things helpful:

We would get really close to Drew’s face and make eye contact with him. In order to achieve this I would lay him on my lap, hold his hands in mine and put my face down close to his. As soon as he would look in my eyes I would instantly start talking to him. Then I would smile, make funny faces, play peek-a-boo to keep him talking, laughing, playing. Drew made some really good “ahh” and “goo” sounds when he was around three months old, and I suspect all parents of children with hearing loss have heard similar sounds from their child at a young age.

A Baby play mirror is an excellent toy to help stimulate interaction for an infant, especially one with hearing loss. If you sit the mirror next to your baby and turn his head so that he is looking at his reflection in the mirror the conversation begins! Drew would talk to himself all the time in that mirror. It was the best thing our Parent/Infant Educator ever told us to buy! We got so much use out of it – and Drew loved it. It is also good when the baby begins to push up because you can sit it in front of them and reward them for holding their head up. Drew really enjoyed this toy.

Drew was always attracted to lights. I think that because he couldn’t hear he had a heightened sense of sight. So, if we were having problems getting him to look at us and interact with us because of the lights we would either move him or turn it off to get his attention.

We found Baby Einstein videos to be an excellent way to stimulate Drew’s interaction with things around him. Drew loved watching the colors and dancing animals on the screen. I don’t think he got anything in terms of auditory stimulation, but I know that he was interacting with it and would make noises of excitement.

Cause and effect toys are great for stimulating interaction as your baby gets a little older. Anything that rewards the baby for an action. Anything with a cause and effect. This helps a baby understand what will happen with conversation – you say something, I respond. Some of our favorite cause and effect toys are a spin top, busy ball popper and busy gears toy.

I actually think that it is quite amazing how well deaf and hearing impaired babies do at interacting with their environment, at least in my (limited) experience. My guess is that as a child gets older this interaction would die out. All the more reason for early intervention and appropriate amplification.

Language List – 8 1/2 Months

Taten’s Mom asked me in a comment on a recent post to make a list of Drew’s receptive and expressive language. Here goes!

Receptive Language:

Ma Ma

Da Da

Pa Pa

Open (door)

Close (door)

Other one


Sit down







Bye bye

Spike it (when playing with his football)

Come here


Take a bite


Expressive Language:


Hello (he-yo)

Ma Ma

Da Da

Pa Pa

Up (uh)

Eat (eee)

More (mo)


Moo (mmm)

Baa (aaa)


Help (ell)

Clean Up (een uh)

Uh Oh

Oh No

Eddie (our dogs name)

Beep (eee, eee – car horn)

Choo choo (ooo, ooo)

Ahhh (airplane)

Tongue click (for a horse)


Thank you (ank oo)

Yeah! (complete with hand clapping)

Mickey (for the Mouse)

Cheese (eese, when his picture is being taken)

One of the really exciting things about his expressive language is that he is actually putting these words with his actions, not just repeating us when we say them. For instance, when he sees his toy airplane he will say, “ahhh.” Or, if he wants a toy out of the toy box that he can’t reach, he will say, “ell” for help. And in other exciting news, Drew is starting to use these words with his ears off! The other morning I went in to get him out of his crib and he had dropped his stuffed animal outside of his crib. As soon as I walked in his room, Drew said, “Uh oh,” and looked down at his stuffed animal laying on the floor. Just amazing! When I handed it back to him he said, “ank oo.”

Of all the words Drew can say, we hear “no” the most (all while shaking his head “no” too!). Sounds like a typical hearing toddler, if you ask me!

Discover the Day

The Baby Einstein Discover the Day book is one of our favorites to read to Drew. There are times throughout the day where it is just not possible for Drew to wear his cochlear implants, like in the bathtub, therefore leaving him without any sound. As a result, picking up langague surrounding these situations is difficutlt. This book helps to develop Drew’s language for such events.

We love reading the page all about bath time to Drew. We talk all about the bubbles in the tub and reinforce it with the bubble sound button. We talk about washing (wash, wash) your body and shampooing your hair. We’ll even pretend to do these things to Drew while reading the book.

It’s also fun to match up the symbols under the flaps in the book to the symbol on the sound board. My daughter loves to play the sounds as we read the book, and it helps children to hear the sound of the cat, bird or spring. One thing that can be confusing to children is that an object can have many different ways to make the same sound. I really think that it is a great idea to have the child hear how you would make the sound with your mouth versus how it sounds manufactured in the book. This helps to develop the child’s auditory memory, and they will likely recognize the different sounds for the same object.

I never realized how much language Drew is missing out on during the times that he does not have his “ears” on, so it is nice to have books that can help enforce this important language.

Snowed In!

Drew’s Dad and I woke up a little bummed this morning. We were looking forward to attending the Deaf Initiatives’ Navigating Your Child’s Future seminar today – complete with childcare! But as a result of Blizzard 2008, we’ve decided to stay home. The roads look awful, it is still snowing, and the last time I looked at the calendar it said March.

I don’t know if they will reschedule this presentation for a later date or not. One presenter drove all the way from Pennsylvania!

Here’s to spring being right around the corner.