Tag Archive | special needs

Writing a #Deaf Thriller

Me and my wonderful interpreter at St Joseph's School for the Deaf

Me and my wonderful interpreter at St Joseph’s School for the Deaf

I’ve been asked by many people “why did you write a book with a deaf main lead character?” At first I found it tough to answer this question because “I didn’t” write a novel with the intention to write about a deaf main character. This young boy formed in my mind and he just happened to be deaf. The only real intention I had was to make sure this boy’s deafness was never a disability and his family all learned sign language so that they could communicate with him.

Now, before we go further I need to do a shameless plug. I’m launching Book #2 in this series and it’s called FLYING TO THE FIRE and I’m hosting a Facebook online event on August 30th. What is an event on Facebook? It’s when, for a day, I do my own event “tour” – you don’t have to live close to me, or go anywhere – it’s all online. People join up, by simply clicking on the link and during that day I simply update the site with questions to win prizes and tell you interesting things about the series. I’m hoping it’s REALLY FUN and I have a lot of prizes and swag planned and a fantastic UK deaf retailer, Talk With Sign Books has offered up a ¬£10 voucher to their store for one of the prizes! So come on over, there will be signed books & goodies just by commenting and interacting, so please, please, please join here: https://www.facebook.com/events/669594469785008/ (ok, shameless plug over)

Now, back to comments. Another more provocative one I received more than once was “Who are YOU to write about a deaf character if you’re not deaf?” Well, to answer that I explained that I was always interested in Deaf culture. I first studied ASL when I was in college. I took a class with a wonderful teacher who was the first deaf person I ever interacted with (save for side glances at people who were rapidly speaking ASL with each other that I’d see in restaurants or other places.) After the first year I learned enough to be a teacher’s assistant for him the next year. But then, having no one to practice with I didn’t get to use it for nearly 20 years. What many people might not know about me, (but will now say, “OH that’s why she can’t hear me sometimes”) I also am hard of hearing in my left ear to the tune of between 40%-60% hearing loss (I need a checkup). As a kid, I had three surgeries in that ear and it left a lot of scar tissue. I can obviously still hear, but it is very difficult at times when there is background noise and I’m trying to concentrate on someone either calling me from upstairs, or speaking to me when they’re not facing me.

I really think people will like this series. It was originally with a publishing company, who unfortunately folded right before FLYING TO THE FIRE was going to come out. So then I got a great agent who tried to hustle them for nearly a year. When he couldn’t, he suggested I change the covers and self publish them. So, now I’m the one hustling!

I did a lot of press on the first book and was written up on many wonderful sites in the Deaf community. Sharon Pajka, a professor at Gallaudet, wrote the novel up on her blog “Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature.” You can read the interview here: http://pajka.blogspot.com/2012/03/interview-with-flying-to-light-author.html The second book is on its way to her momentarily.

Book #1 was even showed at The Deaf Unity Event in London, so I was asked to make a video. I got an interpreter to help me and I put in captions. I had only days to do it, but this is what I was able to come up with. I am speaking REALLY slowly because I’m looking into a mirror and I can tell when the interpreter is catching up with me! ūüôā https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWIpJrOfwlA

I am planning on a 99 cent sale of FLYING TO THE LIGHT on August 13th and August 14th. (my blog followers here are getting this information first!), so grab your copy then. If you just can’t wait and want to nab it earlier, FLYING TO THE LIGHT is available on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1u6xwpV Book #2 in the series, FLYING TO THE FIRE will be available August 30th.

Book #1 & #2 in my Deaf Thriller Series

Book #1 & #2 in my Deaf Thriller Series

For those who have already read the book – if you could leave a review on Amazon it would be so appreciated! And… there is a Book #3 in the works. It is tentatively titled, FLYING HOME, and it will tie up the trilogy. Love to hear your thoughts and come join the event! ūüôā And also, don’t forget to check out Talk With Sign Book’s website in the UK for some amazing products for the community. http://talkwithsign.com/

How I Turned into Supermom on Friday…

benandmeI have spent the past few weeks focussing this blog on writing, but by my subtitle, my blog is really about “Musings of a Type “A” Mom.” As much as I’d love to spend my life writing and cooking, a big part of my world is, of course, my children.

Here was my FB post Friday: DONE! Within 13 hours of deciding Ben was not going back to Camp Kehilla, I interviewed 5 camp directors, went to his old camp to settle things AND get my reimbursement, got medical forms, filled out paperwork, went to his new camp to meet the team, and now he is OFFICIALLY starting Luhi’s Computer program, with swimming, on Monday Morning. BooYa! I should really do this stuff for a living.

Let me explain. My 11 year old son has Asperger’s and camp (and most things) are not his thing. If he had his way, he’d be on the computer for his entire life playing Minecraft or watching crazy youtube videos that range from Team Fortress 2 vignettes to My Little Pony movies. For the past few years, he’s been going to a mainstream camp, but they suddenly closed. We looked at other mainstream camps, but they weren’t good fits (either too much sports, no real supervision, etc) so I selected a special needs camp where all the kids were on the spectrum. I was assured that his group would all be high functioning because my son gets very upset if he believes he’s in a group for kids with needs – especially if they’re lower functioning.

It’s been 3 weeks and needless to say, camp was a disaster. He was upset at the long bus ride, upset at some of the kids who would verbally stim for hours on end, upset that he was bored, not challenged and it was too chaotic. It got to a point that he was begging us not to take him to camp and he started having meltdowns to the point where he’d hurt himself. Camp simply shouldn’t be that way. I don’t blame the camp. We tried, it didn’t work out. My fault would have been to simply leave him there, because it was easy. But this mom doesn’t play that way.

I woke up at 6:00 am Friday morning, July 19th. Called in to work that I was taking off and started my emails. By 9:00 am I had started talking to directors at various camps, made appts at doctors to pick up medical forms for the camps, started downloading forms and started Facebooking about my plans. By noon I had it down to 3 camps. By 1:00 I chose one (one I had not even known about at noon and a FB friend mentioned!) and then dashed out to my son’s camp to let them know he wasn’t coming back, get reimbursement and take him home. (all nicely – I really don’t fault them).

By 4:30 I was at the new camp delivering payment, forms, getting the bus set up and talking to the Director. So, on Monday – only 3 days later on July 22nd, he’ll be starting a new camp, a computer based video gaming development program that “he thinks looks very cool” – there’s food he’ll eat, swimming and sports (hmmm), but they’re aware of his needs and the head of the camp believes he’ll be fine. My son has promised that he “will try” to control his behaviors. I’m hoping he’s motivated because he really wants to be there.

So, now I’m trying to breathe. Most of the time I’m a very tired, confused mess, but where my kids are concerned, I seriously feel like I have some sort of “reserve well” deep inside and have the ability to turn into supermommy when I need to. I mean, what other choice did I have?

Let’s cross our fingers, eyes, toes and whatever other disjointed body parts we have. The good news is, it’s only a 2 week program (I could re-up) but now I also have 2 other camps I can reach out to as well.

Wish us luck!

A “Pool’s Worth” of Opportunity with a “Shotglass” of Tolerance

I came up with this tagline the other day as I was speaking with my 11 year old son’s principal. You see, my son has Aspergers and he is an incredible challenge to teach. He’s ridiculously¬†smart, but so resistant and intolerant of doing anything outside of what he either “finds interesting” or “finds tolerable.” He reads incredibly fast, in fact he’s been reading since he was 21 months old. Actually read words to me before he even spoke. Ever since, he’s devoured books and weekly we travel to all the libraries around Nassau County and take out about 20 books a week on whichever topic he finds compelling. This week he’s breezed through Oliver Sack’s books THE MIND’S EYE, THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT and he’s in the middle of HALLUCINATIONS. His “interest of the week” is perception and how the mind can play tricks on you. Of course last week it was graphic novels, the week before that it was space, pokemon and World Records. It changes and we’re trying not to get whiplash the way he¬†switches it up so much.

So what’s the challenge? Presently, his feelings about school, and particular, the reading lessons. He’s read the chapter book his teacher is going over in class already while the class as a whole is slowly answering questions, chapter by chapter and he’s becoming resentful of having to sit there and listen to it. He tells them he’s bored and¬†I don’t understand why they can’t have him do the curriculum required at his pace and then give him something more challenging. That was the crux of the conversation with the principal, who agrees with me. The trick is, what if they give Ben something more challenging and he decides it’s not “of interest to him?” That could easily happen.

Growing up he was always so ahead of his peers that school was easy. He breezed right through into 4th grade without doing much of anything. We were never concerned cognitively and used school as a place for him to socialize and if he wasn’t challenged enough, we spent our weekends at every museum, bookstore¬†and library we could hit. But then he entered 4th grade and things started to go downhill. More was being asked of him, some of the kids were catching up, and for the first time he had a teacher that wasn’t a good match.¬†Needless to say,¬†it was a horror of a year and I’m going to leave it at that – I’d need another post just to rant incessantly and I’m too exhausted to do that right now. Suffice it to¬†say, we moved him out of district¬†to a different school with only 9 kids to a class. You’d think that would be perfect, but it has its own challenges. We have lovely teachers and aides who work with him, but in a school with kids who ALL have needs, the peer modeling isn’t the greatest and they don’t offer the same challenging classes his twin sister is getting back¬†in his own district.

So, where are we? The principal is going to explore the opportunity for him to “travel” in certain subjects to different classrooms, maybe those in a different grade level, and see if that works. Or, they’re going to do some modifications on what he is learning. Fingers crossed it’s sooner¬†versus later. Already at home we have private Spanish Classes (since his school doesn’t offer it).

In the meantime Ben has come up with an alternate theory about the universe. He’s called it¬†“The Salpeter Theory of Consistency.” I’ve got calls in to the¬†local school’s physics teachers to see if they can help us with “formulating a paper” for this theory so Ben¬†can submit it. I told him¬† we’ll work on it together and he has¬†to prove his theories, we’ll research and all that good stuff. He is completely on board.

Lucky for me I have a kid like this. I don’t think¬†otherwise I’d ever know so much about Schrodinger’s Cat theory,¬†the concept of Visual Agnosia (which is¬†the inability of the brain to recognize or understand visual stimuli), and that preon is¬†now¬†one of the smallest particles out there (u-surping the mighty quark)

So like I said in the title… if I could take that shotglass of tolerance he has… and just stretch it to a tumbler or a high ball, or even a mightly ice bucket, the world will be this kid’s oyster!

Thanks for the ear and taking the time to read. Have an awesome day. ūüôā