Preparing Heidi for Kindie Part II (If all else fails)

So in the last post Heidi’s mom gave some tips about getting your kid and yourself, as a parent, ready for kindergarten. And as much as we can plan and preempt, as Murphy would have it, things do not always go as planned. Sh*t happens! As expected, well not really as Heidi’s mom thought she had everything sorted out.

So what happened? Even though kindie was somewhat briefed about Heidi’s hearing condition and how to manage her devices, somehow a curveball got thrown their way and they messed up. Mommy had to rush off one morning for a meeting and Heidi had to choose that morning to throw a tantrum and grandma had to rush off for work. The same day, there was water play and Heidi needed her Aqua+ solution. Mommy briefed one of the teacher how to put it on and had to rush off. On hindsight, the teacher did look bit uncomfortable being tasked with this responsibility but didn’t protest verbally in any way.

That afternoon, one of the teachers called and said the device was blinking orange light. For those who do not know how a cochlear implant works, if the processor blinks green, it means they are working right and connected to the implant. If it blinks orange, it means something is wrong with the connection. Either the left and right side are switched, the battery is low or the connection is damaged. Mommy did a FaceTime with the teacher and still they couldn’t seem to troubleshoot. So she Uber-ed down right away only to find out that the teachers have damaged her processors. They plugged in the coil the wrong way! Both processors!

She called Heidi’s therapist right away and her lovely therapist immediately set up and audiology appointment for her. Lucky for them, there were spare new processors on hand and Heidi’s was under warranty. The alternate scenario would have been pretty distressing: forking out ¬†$20k for both processors and potentially of a few days of bad signing and no hearing for Heidi. A slight problem was that they did not have Heidi’s latest CI mapping program on hand and had to use the old program which was not as updated and compatible for her hearing.

Lessons learnt if you are travelling to a new place or starting kindergarten:

  1. Always have your child’s CI audiology mapping ready in your email so that you can share it with the local audiologist.
  2. Have a contact of the therapist or audiologist or the agent dealing with the device and reach out to them as early as you can so that they are familiar with your child and are able to help them right away if any problem crops up.
  3. If there isn’t warranty for the device, make sure insurance covers most scenarios. Find out what the claims process is like to avoid any unnecessary delays.
  4. With regards to new teachers dealing with the devices, do not assume what seems obvious to you would be to them. Encourage them to ask questions and look out for non-verbal cues of the care-giver. If they do not seem comfortable, address their discomfort right away. Do not take any chances. We do not want our child to ‘lose’ their hearing due to mishandling from caregivers.

With that said, it wasn’t entirely the kindie’s fault. Many local kindies in Singapore are not organised in a way that ensures there are trained personnels to care for kids who need additional attention unlike the ones in Norway. Let’s hope to slowly change the preschool care with every unique child that comes their way. Hopefully, raising more awareness and bringing about a systemic change to the status quo.

Preparing Heidi for Singapore Kindie

As we are one month into the Singtel Futuremakers incubation programme, activities and workload intensify. As busy as Tara, our founder, is, she’s got to get Heidi, her daughter, used to the life in Singapore for the next couple of months.

Despite the jetlaggedness (is that even a word?) of the kids, she drags herself and Heidi to a kindergarten that she found. Thank god for them, as many kindergartens are not ready to accept kids for short periods, or already have a long waiting list and long, we are talking about a year. And we thought Singapore has a low birth rate issue.

After the first bout of good luck, comes a reality check. The first problem she faced, kindergartens in Singapore are not as well prepared to care for kids with special needs. But thankfully, this kindergarten is willing to try. So after gaining some experience from Norway, where Heidi goes to school, and some help from Singapore therapists and advice from her Norwegian therapists, she’s compiled a short list of some tips to prepare your kid and yourself for kindergarten.

  1. Look for a smaller kindergarten so that teachers manage lesser kids and a dedicated teacher can pay more attention to your child.
  2. Rooms should have good sound proofing and floors should preferably be carpeted. If that’s not possible, suggest the kindergarten to put paddings on chairs to reduce the noise level.
  3. Conduct a session to educate teachers about the devices and the child’s condition. Better still, bring in a therapist before your child starts the kindergarten.
  4. For older kids, it would be great to conduct a learning session for the rest of the children about hearing loss and the devices. Present it in a positive and light-hearted tone.
  5. Bring in a therapist after a few weeks to conduct an observation.
  6. Always have her teachers’s mobile number and make sure they have yours.
  7. This list is not exhaustive but since we promised it would be short, one more thing we thought was useful is to create a poster so that teachers and other kids can read about hearing loss and the devices. We have attached the sample in this post for your reference. (psst, the daddy made it, so it isn’t all that professional looking. But nonetheless kudos to him and all copyrights are his.)

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-23-15-05

We apologise if the image is not clear enough on wordpress. If you would like a copy, simply email Tara at tarateo@irisada.co. I’m sure she is more than willing to share the original copy.

Below is the chinese version, since most Singapore kindergartens are bilingual.

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-23-15-27

We hope you enjoyed this post and do check out our Facebook page  @ http://www.facebook.com/Irisadamarketplace.