Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! NOW YOU KNEW I WAS GOING TO POST SOME OLD HALLOWEEN PICTURES CAUSE BY THE TIME I DOWNLOAD THE ONES FROM THIS YEAR IT WILL BE NEXT HALLOWEEN! I love Halloween!!! It is by far my favorite holiday. Our first year living in Grosseto, I realized they didn't celebrate Halloween in Italy when I dressed up Jordan as a smurf and myself as a witch and people kept giving us rude stares. Did I care? Heck no! I just marched my little smurf around town and smiled at all the rude stares. My how things have it's Halloween night at the disco, kids have begun "trick-or-treating," and I just went dressed up as a witch to teach my pre-school class. When I arrived, I was shocked! There were jack-o-lanterns, electric pumpkins, black cats and hanging toilet paper ghosts. A couple of kids were even dressed up as a warlock, werewolf and ghost. Today we have a Halloween party in the town center where kids will be running around spraying shaving cream and silly spray because they just can't take the CARNIVAl out of Halloween, they have to mix it in there...I'm not complaining, cause in eleven years in Italy, we have made some serious progress! BOO!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I am posting this You Tube video of a "phonics lesson" of a child with bilateral cochlear implants with parental permission. The clarity of the video enables the viewer to see not only how well the child speaks (he's adorable!)but also, how well he HEARS! His mother gives him directions and the child receives and processes the message without speech reading and without doubting that he has heard the message correctly. THIS IS THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN MY EXPERIENCE AS A MOTHER OF A DEAF CHILD WHO WEARS HEARING AIDS AS OPPOSED TO THE COCHLEAR IMPLANT EXPERIENCE. When Jordan wore hearing aids, homework was a NIGHTMARE! Now, instead of reading my lips to understand the message, he can listen and concentrate on his homework task, simultaneously. This is the major reason why Jordan comes home from school alert and ready to move on to the next activity, this was not the case with hearing aids and we took many mental health days just to let him relax.
While hearing in itself becomes effortless, parents and professionals must work together consistently from the moment the cochlear implant is activated to stimulate that hearing and educate the child regarding sound. This phonics lesson is an example of how a parent's job at home is an ongoing process, obviously this child hears and speaks at this point, but language acquisition and production is an ongoing process.
CONTRARY to the opinions of some blogs I have read, NO ONE that I know was told that once the child puts on the cochlear implant, HALLELUYAH! DEAFNESS HAS BEEN HEALED! We know from the beginning that our job will entail working on auditory-verbal therapy lessons at home if we want our children to maximize their use of the incredible device that enables the hearing. AND we as parents, as demonstrated by this youtube video are up to the task! KUDOS to MOM!!!


Tuscans love their bread! Dry schiaccia in the morning, Baccinello bread with lunch and dinner, focaccia with cooked ham as a snack, neverending bread. Personally, and luckily I don't like the bread here or I would be a house. The bread they eat with meals is this dry, salt-free mega-loaf, which compliments the salty pasta sauces, that just doesn't quite stimulate the tastebuds...nothing like Tio Pepe's steaming, crusty, buttered bread brought to the table before your meal!(Can you tell it's lunchtime and I haven't eaten, yet?) Anyway, there is a point to all of this and I'm getting to it.
Not only is bread an inherent part of the culture, but bread-buying is a standard daily procedure in this town. People go on a daily basis to the town bakery to step right up and order their mega-loaf or dry schiaccia. I am proud to say that Jordan is part of this tradition. He walks up to the counter, says "Good Morning," selects his dry schiaccia, makes and returns some small talk with the ladies, says, "Thank you very much," pays and heads for the door. Sometimes (rarely) the cashier needs to remind him to take his change and she'll call out, "Hey Jordan, you forgot your change!" Jordan turns around, because thanks to his cochlear implant, he hears her, goes to collect his change and then heads for the door, but now he's running because he has to catch the bus to go to Middle School!
Going into a bakery and ordering a piece of bread may seem like a piece of cake (sorry, couldn't resist) but you can't even imagine all that goes into that little scenario. When he began entering the supermarket as a consumer- not just as a kid accompanying his mother- he had hearing aids. We had to first write down what he needed to buy at the supermarket, then I walked him through correct supermarket behavior and supervised him as he made his requests, helping him to understand possible questions or procedures that he encountered. For example, when ordering cold cuts, how many ounces or pounds he would need to order. This went on about ten times before I sent him in on his own...and eventually out on his own...
The cochlear implant facilitates this process as the device enables him to hear much better than he did with his hearing aids, so that when the cashier calls to Jordan as he is leaving, he will be able to hear her voice and return for his change.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'd been teaching English the entire afternoon and my mother-in-law
took Jordan to get his hair cut. He came home and the first thing
I saw was a small mohawk. Then, he showed me the rest...Keep in mind
hair really short and the hairdresser shaves a little design on the
side of his head where he doesn't have the ci...he's had a heart, a
shark and a spider. Well, he now has bilateral cis(I have

Since my beloved husband Luca finally downloaded the photos, he gets to have his picture with his mom and dad on the blog!!!:)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Grieving to Growing...Support Groups Help

When I found out about Jordan's bilateral profound hearing loss,
I had no Yahoo support groups to help me through each new experience. Friends and family can only help you to a certain point, and sometimes unintentionally hinder you thinking they have your child's best interest at heart. People react in many different ways to the news that their child has a hearing loss, I chose to build a wall of determination to start helping my child to learn to speak so that he could understand and be understood. I found that by becoming pro-active,
talking non-stop to Jordan all day every day, listening to
specialists and getting to know my baby, the grieving process turned
into a growing process. Part of the grieving is that we feel
impotent in what has happened to our child, and oftentimes
responsible. The best cure for impotence is knowledge to empower
ourselves to help our child learn to use his/her hearing aids or cochlear implant to the maximum level of potential. Every one of the posts on the yahoo cochlear implant support groups provides the lurker, or person with a question with a piece of knowledge to help troubleshoot, identify and meet his/her child's needs.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Random Thoughts...Always Lead to Family

Today I received a letter from an "American Mom Living in Germany," and we bonded over similar cochlear implant experiences like the fact that we both were given our surgeons'cell phone numbers to contact in case of emergency, how ordering supplies for cis is cost-free and how the Government National Healthcare System takes care of our children. No, the system is not perfect, but when financial ramifications are taken out of the disability equation, one has time to focus one's energy where it needs to be, on the child.

I used to feel as though I had to explain my child to the world, I used to feel guilty that he could potentially create a disturbance in the classroom or "slow down" the rest of the children's academic spurt. I felt that way until the Director of Jordan's Elementary School took me aside at the fifth grade end of the year program and said this to me, "Jodi, having a child like Jordan mainstreamed in a classroom has truly helped the other students in his class, not only by making them more sensitive with respect to diversity, but because identifying his needs has made his teachers re-evaluate their teaching methodologies to the benefit of the entire class." (I'll admit, I got teary eyed)

Have I mentioned that I dig the Italian Health Care System and that Tuscany is a fine, non-competitive atmosphere to let a kid enjoy his childhood? The only thing missing here is the other side of our family, mine, so I'm attaching a photo to make them immediately a part of this blog! Thanks for reading...Jodi

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I landed on planet Italy eleven years ago on June 16, 1997;Jordan was 10 months old at the time. I didn't speak a word of Italian, well...aside from a couple of bad words. One and a half months later, my husband, mother-in-law and I were in an audiologist's office learning that Jordan had a profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (I learned how to say that in English on Ci Circle). He was deaf and the doctor was telling me this in Italian. When the audiologist realized that I didn't understand a word she was saying, she began explaining my child's hearing loss to my Italian mother-in-law. I EXPLODED!!!!!!! I asked my husband to explain to the doctor that I was the mother and she would need to talk to me about my son. To make matters worse, she then began calling me "Dear" this and "Dear" that, but in the end she took the time to answer all of my questions and I managed to leave the office satisfied that she had Jordan's needs identified.
The irony of this Tuscan-American deaf experience is that I can understand in a small way how frustrating it is not to be able to communicate, how irritating it is when someone doesn't think you're capable of understanding a concept because you don't speak their language, and worst of all, not having a voice to express your thoughts. My entire life, my parents have said, "Speak up for yourself!" "Speak up for what you believe!" And I have never been one to be silent. Above all, I did not want my son to feel invisible, be ignored or pitied ever in his lifetime. We chose to attempt to teach Jordan to speak and if that didn't work we would then learn sign language. Like many other parents, we were told not to use sign language as he would have relied on that to communicate as opposed to the spoken word, thereby retarding his process of language acquisition.
Because we lived in Italy, we learned to speak Italian, having also been told that English on top of Italian would have been too confusing for him. However, there was one phrase that I insisted he say in English, "I love you, Mamma." (I must have said those words to him 150 times a day, those were his first words in English) "Ti voglio bene, Mamma!" the Italian version, just doesn't work for me.
The hearing aids worked well for Jordan, but not well enough and in third grade he was falling way behind his peers socially. We then made the decision that changed our lives, we opted for the cochlear implant. The cochlear implant has helped Jordan to find his we have another problem, that voice has been using a few too many swear words of late! When I told him I was going to wash his mouth out with soap (too bad there aren't any Irish Spring soap bars here in Italy, we use bodywash) if he didn't stop swearing, his response was, "Mom, I'm not a little kid anymore, I'm a guy, I go to Middle School!" He then proceeded to correct my Italian, apparently I had used the wrong verb tense! Gotta love that...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You Know You're in Tuscany When...

You know you're in Tuscany when your son's class takes a fieldtrip to the OPERA!!! Jordan attends a public middle school that specializes in Music Education. He goes to school six days a week from 8 am to 1 pm (all Italian middle schools and most elementary schools have this schedule) and returns to school for an extra three hours a week for acoustic guitar lessons, group instrumental lessons and Music Theory. He also has a private tutor one hour a week who helps him study what he has done in school and teaches him the electric guitar (cause that's a "cool" instrument!).

Because he goes to this school specializing in Music, they try to enrich the students' musical appreciation with as much exposure as possible to various forms of music. Apparently, the opera is in town with "La Traviata." It is times like these that I really understand how much he hears with his implant because he came home from the opera and explained the names of the characters, the plot and even told me his favorite character:Alfredo "the lover." (surprise surprise!)

He has just upgraded his processor from the Esprit 3G to the FREEDOM so I am constantly asking him, "Were the kids too loud in school?" "Can you hear okay?" so the obvious question here was, "Did the music bother you?" He said, "The voices were so loud they could have broken glass", but that is actually an acceptable answer when someone asks you how the voices were at an opera:) He loved it! My deaf son loves the opera! This is another miracle of the cochlear implant!

Living in Italy has its ups and downs, but life just doesn't get much better than this. I am 35 years old and have been living in Italy for 11 years...I have never in my life been to the OPERA. My 11 year old son is a highly cultured young man, at least when he isn't playing Playstation or eating dirt on the baseball diamond!

Introducing......An American Mom in Tuscany and the Cochlear Implant

Hi Everyone!!!
I'm Jodi and this is my first official blog ever! I am the co-author of the children's book RALLY CAPS that was published in April 2007 (the other author is my dad). This book was inspired by my eleven year old son Jordan, who is deaf and wears a cochlear implant. I wanted to mainstream a strong deaf character in literature as my son is mainstreamed in public schools and life in general....IN GROSSETO! Grosseto is a town in Tuscany, Italy. I have chosen to write a blog because after so many years of teaching my deaf son to have a voice, I have neglected to use my own voice regarding how cochlear implants are changing lives. I feel extremely fortunate that my son is overcoming his disability and I would like all parents to know that the cochlear implant truly works.
To learn a little more about our story and to meet my incredible son (there is also a picture of my daughter Sofia) visit
I look forward to writing and meeting new people curious about the cochlear implant and life in Tuscany.
Co-Author of RALLY CAPS
Mamma of Jordan 11 years old (Nucleus 24C FREEDOM upgrade left ear) and
Sofia Madyson aka "DRAMA" 4 years old