December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas!

IMG_6785Can you believe it? Christmas is only days away!?!? Last week I seemed to have lost track of time with a busy week at work, studying, taking final exams and late nights with Lucas. The weekend finally came and I am on a break in between semesters. I can't believe that this Friday is Christmas and I feel like time is just going by too fast. 
Over the weekend, I kept thinking about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of our Savior. As I held Lucas I often thought about Mary and Joseph and what they must have experienced to hold and care for baby Jesus. Lucas will often stare at me and display such innocence and trust. It makes me feel the great responsibility that I hold as his father. I am pretty sure Mary and Joseph felt the same sense of responsibility as they cared for our Savior. It has been such a tender experience for me to watch Lucas grow and develop. My new favorite Christmas video this year is titled "A Savior Is Born" and I love the reminder of what He means to us. 
The Cluff Family also wishes you all a Merry Christmas! 

December 2, 2015

Falling into Place

 On Monday morning, I was driving to work and contemplating what the day will bring. As I was doing so, a song came on the radio titled, "Just be Held" by Casting Crowns.  As I listened to the words, this phrase stood out to me the most, "Your worldnot falling apart, it's falling into place."  It got me thinking about the time Lucas spent in the NICU. The day after Lucas was born we were planning on going home and ready to find our new normal. Within hours, our plans changed and they wanted us to stay one more night. Heather and I were okay with that. The night came and about 15 minutes after falling asleep we were woken up by the nurses saying, "We have to taLucas-1ke Lucas to the NICU." Our hearts began to race as they did not tell us much or why they needed to take him to the NICU. Shortly after he was taken to the NICU, a NICU nurse came up and talked to us and told us what was going on. We were assured that it was nothing major, just a few things they wanted to monitor closely.  In the middle of the night Heather climbed into the wheelchair and I pushed her as we went to the NICU to see Lucas. It was hard to see him hooked up to many monitors and IVs going through his tiny hands. Even though it might have felt like our world was falling apart, it was actually falling into place. Heather and I talk often of our time there, not so much the worry and the pain, but rather the miracles we witnessed. Heather often tells me, "The whole week we were there, I felt a strength beyond my own." Even when plans feel like they are falling apart, they just might be falling into place. 


November 9, 2015

Journey to Fatherhood: Lucas' Arrival

On Monday night after work, my wife and I went to my parents house for a bonfire where we would roast hot dogs, sit and talk around the fire, play games and have dessert. It felt like it had been a long time since we had a night like this. For the last few months, I have been busy with school, work and getting ready to welcome our little boy. While we were sitting around the fire my dad was talking about some things he learned. As I sat there these words kept coming to my mind, "Take time to realize." It was a reminder to take time to realize what is before you and to enjoy this time.
If someone had told me what the next 30 hours would bring and that our plans would change in a full 360 degrees... I would not have believed them. The following 30 hours and following days proved to be some of the most challenging and yet most beautiful moments of our lives. My wife will be writing a blog entry about this experience from her perspective. This post will be from my perspective as the husband and new father.
First, let me give you a little background to our birth story. Way before we got married and when she got pregnant, Heather has always been a woman of great knowledge and researches everything before making a big decision on something. With that said, upon finding out we were going to have a baby, she and I felt like we should go with a midwife at a birthing center attached to a major hospital. We felt at peace about it and went with it.
With all that said, I am going to tell my journey to fatherhood.
Monday: ShOur Storyortly after we got home after the fun night with family we were about ready to go to bed and continue to wait for Lucas to arrive. Within minutes of us falling asleep, Heather's water broke. It was 10:15 pm. I then called our Midwife, packed the last minute things we needed and then we took time to pray to our Heavenly Father for strength and peace. Then we drove off into the quiet hours of the night to the hospital. We arrived around 11:15 pm. They placed us in our room and had Heather get some sleep.
Tuesday: Heather's contractions started around 1 am, and I found myself applying what I was taught in a six-week natural birthing class to help her with the contractions. The first few hours went by pretty fast and the next thing I knew the morning sun had arrived. Feeling a little exhausted and weak in my ability to help Heather, I prayed for the strength to meet the tasks at hand. Heather's contractions began to increase and pain became more intense. Around 1 pm, we were told she was only dilated halfway. That felt discouraging, but our team remained hopeful that everything would work out. By this time, I was starting to get really tired and was doubting my ability to be strong. I found myself picturing Lucas cheering me on to help his mother. Everything seemed to stay the same till around 10:30 pm when, after a conversation with our midwife and team, we felt like it was time to head upstairs to the OBYN that partners with the birthing center in case things like this happen. Around 11:30 pm we made it to our 2nd room where Heather had some relief with an epidural. I found great relief when I found her finally taking a nap before the next phase.
BirthStory-2Wednesday: Around 1 am I finally fell asleep on the couch for about an hour or two before I was woken up to her pushing. After three hours of pushing, we were given two options (1) use a vacuum to get him through the birth canal or C-Section. My heart started to pound but tried to remain to hopeful. By this time it was already around 6:30 am. The new team got everything ready and the vacuum thing was hooked up.  After the second try Lucas finally decided to join us at 6:43 am. That very moment was simply amazing and tears came running down. Heather was in complete tears after working so hard and sacrificing so much in the 30 hours.
Lucas-3Throughout the rest of the day we were filled with excitement, love and relief. They did some tests, tried feeding, and we received visits from doctors. The only concern they had was that he was breathing fast, but was looking really good. Grandma Cluff spent a great deal of time with Lucas while Heather and I tried to sleep, which never lasted long.
NICU We were planning on going home and were getting all excited to be home. As the day moved along and more doctors visited, they found that Lucas was showing some Jaundice. Just when they were going to discharge us they asked us to stay another night so Lucas could be under the phototherapy for Jaundice. We were okay with that and around 10:30 pm I fell asleep on the couch. 20 minutes later I was woken up by Heather. Tears were in her eyes and I jumped up and put my Cochlear Implants on. She then said, "They had to take him to the NICU as his breathing was getting too fast." I sat there, unsure what to do. We both sat on the couch for 15 minutes, which seemed like an eternity, as we waited for the NICU nurse to come and explain what was going on. As we waited I thought about how my parents must have felt when I was heading to the NICU when I was first born. The nurse finally arrived and explained everything. Once again we felt at peace and made changes to our plans once again. At this point "Sleep" sounded like a far away land.
FridayLucas-1: Around 3 am we got to go see Lucas in the NICU for the first time. Being a new Father, my heart broke to see him all wrapped up in wires and under the blue light. But, as I "took time to realize" and remembered that 


Lucas-6

October 29, 2015

16 Years!

Earlier this month I wrote a post titled "Secrets to Greatness" and I mentioned that I had my right Cochlear Implant for 16 years. It is kind of hard for me to believe that it has been 16 years already. Sometimes I feel like I was born with Cochlear Implant as it feels so natural to me. I forgot about this tender picture of my mother and I, shortly after my surgery. It is amazing how far I have come since this day. It truly is a miracle.
IMG_6176
I remember walking out of the hospital and seeing all my family there. A few weeks later, I went to the hospital and witnessed the miracle of sounds. My first memory of sound was, "Mommy & Daddy, I can hear my footsteps." - David Cluff

October 22, 2015

He Hears Me


He Hears MeJust shy of 9 months ago, I found out that I was going to be a daddy. A greater sense of responsibility also came over me along with an urge to be better in everything. The thought of being perfect in everything is rather daunting. In my graphic design class, we talked about this quote which has been on my mind a lot lately, "Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” As much as I would like to be perfect or a "know it all" in everything, I simply need to be good right now. A million questions flooded my mind as I thought about this new role and chapter of my life.
     Over my lifetime, I have held many different roles from being a son, brother, missionary, friend and recently a husband. All seemed daunting at the beginning, but I have faith and believe that everything will be okay. Through all these roles I have come to learn over and over that He hears me, God hears me through prayer. A few years ago I was asked to speak at the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) here in St. Louis and I remember feeling really inadequate to be speaking in front of medical professionals and parents. (Read post here) Another time I had to speak in front of 100 graduates at Washington University. I remember praying during the whole drive to these events that God would help me feel calm and know what to say. After both of these events, my faith was increased. 
  Another role that changed my life was being a missionary for my church in Utah & Wyoming. Those two years proved to be some of the most challenging moments in my life. Being a missionary was not easy. In my role as a missionary, I learned more about service, love and to spend time on my knees in prayer. All the lessons I learned have helped me to be the best husband I can be. One experience in particular that comes to mind is my time in Wyoming. I had just gotten a new missionary companion and he was from "The Kingdom on Tonga" as he always said. The first day being together we got in a car accident. It was a really wet day and we ended up off the highway. We both were unharmed but can't say the same about the car. After we finally made it back to the apartment I remember kneeling in bedroom praying, feeling unsure of what to do. After I came to myself, I went to the living room and I saw my missionary companion  sitting on the steps cleaning my muddy shoes and shining them. He taught me a lot about service through that one simple act. (View my mission video here)
Since then I have tried to apply the lesson of service in all I do, especially as a husband. Let's face it, pregnancy is full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. You never really know how the weeks or months will go. I had to develop greater faith as I watched my wife go through these different phases of pregnancy for the first time. There were times where I simply wanted to relieve her from the aches and pains of the pregnancy. All I could do was offer a hug, hold her hand, and offer some comfort. I found these three things to be key in our pregnancy experience: (a) have a love for mom and baby, (b) have faith through the unknown and (c) service for mom and baby. Being a provider is a big responsibility, but being a Father & Husband is a greater calling.
My favorite moments in the day are at 5:00 in the morning when I spend 10-20 minutes doing the dishes, tidying up the living area and doing little things that will help her through the day. During this time she is sound asleep after lots of tossing and turning through the night and getting the comfort she waited so long for. This has been my way of experiencing the pregnancy.
As I continue to watch my wife progress towards the due date next week, I stand all amazed at the tender mercies and the peace that God has put in our life. It is His way of reminding me that He hears me. 

October 19, 2015

Forgot something...

Ever have one of those mornings where you are rushing out the door and you forget something? Well, I had one of those mornings. I got all ready for the day, made my lunch, and left for work. Shortly after I left, I then realized I forgot something. I forgot my *left ear! How often do you  hear someone say that?!?!
I had my right ear on and forgot  to put on my left ear. I did not want to turn around, plus I thought, “how bad can it be to only have my right ear on for a day.” Everything was okay when the office was quiet, but as everyone started to come in and talking…I became very disoriented among the many sounds. I came to realize just how much I rely on having both Cochlear Implants or ears on. Haveing two Cochlear Implants on I am able to locate sounds better, things sound much more clear and I don’t feel as lost in all the sounds.
Next time I will remember to put both ears on before heading out the door.


*I often refer my Cochlear Implants as my ears. 

October 8, 2015

You Know

The other day I was looking at some of my past writing and found this piece from last year. I realized that I never published it on this blog. I now smile when I think of the experiences I describe in this entry. Enjoy! 

Written in June 2014

   Being deaf and wearing Cochlear Implants is not a walk in the park or an easy life. It takes work and dedication to reach for the dreams and goals I have set in my life. I learned many lessons over the past few months that have taught me many things.  Through these experiences I am brought back to a thought I often wondered as a young boy and even today: “If I could see what angels see…” We all have experiences where a really good day comes and you feel someone has helped lift you up or when you have a really rough day you feel someone wipe away those tears. That’s when you know angels are all around you, which brings calm assurance letting you know that everything will be okay.
   Upon my return home from serving my mission in Salt Lake City I bought my first car. With that came a new sense of responsibility and a welcome to “adulthood”.  I was excited about this new stage of my life. A few weeks after getting my car I went to go get an oil change. The following experience has taught me many things and I hope each of you will be able to take something away from this.
   One day after work I made plans to get my car an oil change. I checked into the prices and felt confident about everything. I pulled up to the shop and told them what I wanted. My car was taken in and I walked into the noisy waiting room where there was only one other person in the waiting room. The loudness came from the TV and radio. About half way through they come up to me and asked if I would like the filters replaced and some other stuff that needed to be done. I asked how much it would all cost. The guy said, “Oh, $50 something.” I then said, “So, you mean like $50 something dollars…?” He responded with,  “Yes”. I did need the other stuff done so I had them go ahead with the work. I thought I was getting a pretty good deal. They finished my car and then they came out with the bill. I looked at the total amount and to my surprise it was not “$50 something” but rather $250.00 something. My jaw about dropped to the floor. The guy directed me to the cashier and said, “Have a nice day.” At that moment I felt like I was taken advantage of because of the fact that I am deaf. It was another one of those “Drive Through” moments. I ended up spending more money than I had planned on but I took away a valuable lesson. I was pretty hard on myself about the whole ordeal. I was mad that I did not hear clearly, and my confidence in this whole “adulthood” stage had dropped. I got home and vented to my parents about how it went. As I talked with them I learned that this would not be the last time this would happen. The question then came, “How am I going to handle it the next time this happens?” I realized that I needed to make a plan. Not everyone is perfect at Customer Service but I can practice being the best customer I can be. It may take a little more work but at least I know what I am doing. Here are some things I learned:
Situation: You walk into a loud waiting room and you struggle to hear clearly what the cashier or customer service representative is saying. What do you do?
Do’s: If you can’t hear the person very well and they are talking about money or something—ask them to write it down, even if it is a rough estimate of how much something is going to cost. This does two things: 1. Helps you better know where your money is going, what you’re getting into, and helps you plan. 2. Helps those serving you become the best customer service representative.
Don’ts: Don’t ever assume you know. Assuming you heard something right always leaves an open door to surprises. Too often I fall into this pattern where I assume I heard someone right but then I realize that I was off. Later in life I look back and laugh at those moments but it would be nice to not have that many moments to laugh at.
    You know how you hear. You know what you want. No one else knows that so you have to be willing to speak up and let people know. When people first meet me they automatically assume that I can hear everything. But…that’s wrong. I actually don’t hear everything. In some settings I hear everything. For example: When I am having one on one conversations with low background noise, I hear just about everything and follow with the conversation. On the other hand when I get into large groups and lots of background noise, I get maybe half of what is going on. That confuses people. Cochlear Implants are amazing but it is not perfect in every situation. I have learned to recognize a situation and know that sometimes I will have to work harder to know what is going, while other situations can feel like a breeze. Rather than beating myself up each time I run into a hard situation I look around to see what angels see in this situation. Last week I was in a busy airport and it was really loud. I could not hear the speakers very well so I started talking to the guy next to me and explained my situation. This guy was as nice as can be. He helped me understand what was being said on the speakers and once I got on my flight I never saw him again. He was like my own angel watching over me. When we communicate our concerns, that is when we can find solutions. If I decided not to tell anyone that I was having a hard time hearing I may have missed my flight and had a horrible travel experience.
It often takes doing something hard to become something extraordinary.

October 5, 2015

“Secrets to Greatness”

  Recently I read “Secrets to Greatness” from the Fortune Magazine for one of my classes. The article talks about what is it takes to be great. After reading this article, I gained a new perspective on greatness and talents. Though many of us are naturally gifted in one or two things, we can become great in more. From the article, these three principles stood out to me the most: (1) Hard Work, (2) Practice and (3) Feedback. I took a closer look at my life and how I have applied or am currently applying these principles.

Hard work. The first thing that came to my mind was physical hard work, like building a house. As I thought about it hard work is simply hard work mentally, physically and emotionally. When I lost my hearing at age six it was hard work to re-learn to hear with the Cochlear Implant. Sixteen years later people now comment on how remarkable my hearing is. Little did they know the countless hours I spent working on building my hearing. It was a mix of physical, mental and emotional hard work. Work meant climbing each mountain that came my way, letting the tears flow when things got hard and simply believing that it is worth it. My hearing did not come naturally, but it came the way I needed it.

In the article it talks about “practice makes perfect” and relates this to individuals who achieved great measures of greatness through practice, like many star athletes. I remember as a child I would stand by the light switch and flick it…just to hear the sound it made and make connections. I would also fall asleep by the radio at night listening to songs over and over. Each one of those moments helped me become who I am today. One of my favorite sayings is. “I am not perfect in everything, but perfect in trying.” When I get discouraged, I simply remind myself to keep being perfect in trying, again and again.

Feedback often comes across as intimidating or awkward. It takes a desire to want to accept feedback and then practice receiving feedback. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I kept saying “Lagwen” instead of “Language” and I was frustrated, as I could never say it right. One day while my mom and I were driving around, I asked her to help me learn to say it right. We spent a good amount of the drive practicing it. She would give me feedback on how I was doing and if I needed to improve in an area. After that experience I have been able to say it right. I found feedback to be another way to invest time in helping someone else improve or grow. Another one of my favorite sayings is, “There is no growth in your comfort zone and there is no comfort in your growth zone.”

To be great does not come easy. It takes time, practice and some growth pain. Working full-time and doing school part-time has displayed different growing pains in my life, but it has been worth it.

September 25, 2015

35 Weeks!!

   Right now our little boy is very active and I get to feel his kicks when I come home at night -- best feeling ever! Here's to 35 weeks! My sweet wife is amazing and puts up with my little photoshoots in between work, school and making dinner. Can't wait for our little boy to arrive next month!

She is so beautiful! 


   A little story behind the photo: I like self-timer when I do self portraits and sometimes it is not your best friend until one magical moment when it captured the golden moment. I set the camera on the tripod and programed it to take 4 photos after the timer goes off. After the photos were taken, my wife and I started laughing about something when all the sudden the camera takes another photo! Being a photographer and having the camera randomly capture the perfect moment was very magical. 



September 23, 2015

"Home" by Phillip Phillips in ASL

I saw this video the other day and I love the way they filmed this! I think it is pretty cool and makes me want to improve my sign language. Check it out!

September 17, 2015

Six More Weeks!

Soon to be grandma found herself in the baby clothes section at the store yesterday and got some more clothes for our little boy! Can't believe we are six weeks away from his due date! I already think baby Cluff is the coolest dude ever. Stay tuned! 

six more weeks! 

September 14, 2015

Rome Was Not Built In a Day


    The last few weeks I have been thinking about my journey to hearing. At the end of next month it will mark 16 years since I got my first cochlear implant and witnessed the miracle of sound. It has not been a easy journey. Just as I toured England and France this past spring, I stood amazed at the castles and major landmarks that stand as wonders of the world. Just like Rome and other places in Europe they were not built in a day. My hearing was not made perfect in a day but rather continual progress each day. There are days where I find myself frustrated at the many times I asked someone to repeat something or the times where I did not fully understand what was going on around me. At work I keep this saying in eye sight as a reminder to myself:



 
   Even at those most frustrating times, I simply have to remind myself to laugh. Often I remind myself that it was a miracle that I was able to talk to that person on the phone and was able to help them even when it seemed like I was climbing a mountain to understand this person. These simple things help me remember that Rome was not built in a day.

   I have been trying to apply these same principles as my wife and I welcome our first baby boy next month. It is hard to believe that I am actually going to become a father to this little boy. I have come to love him so much from every kick he made from within the womb and each ultrasound photo. I often lay in the silence of the night wondering if I am ready for this new role of being a father.

  Watching my own father grow in fatherhood has been a blessing to me. The life experiences he has had made him the father and man that he is today. It was not a sudden spark of knowledge, but rather it took the first diaper change, to helping tie a tie for church and learning together. That is how his knowledge and wisdom grew. 


Once again, Rome was not built in a day.

September 11, 2015

Love One Another -- NEW VIDEO

The past few Sundays the kids in church have been practicing signing and signing "Love One Another". These practices remind me of when some missionaries and I did the same song. Check it out:

August 19, 2015

Cochlear Implants & Paperclips


At 5:30am I am usually getting ready for the day with very little light as I don't want to disturb my wife. This morning I drove to work with this paperclip between my head and external magnet. This is what happens when I put them on in the dark. Looks like I will look more closely at what I place on my nightstand, where my Cochlear Implants rest each night.




The everyday life with cochlear implants. Comment and share what experiences you have had with your magnets?

August 14, 2015

They Call Me Uncle

   

   When I married my wife I received the following names: husband, son-in-law, brother-in-law and uncle. I love all these names, but one name that I have become very fond of is “uncle.” My nieces and nephews are the BEST! All my life I wondered how my in-laws, nieces and nephews would take me in as the “deaf one.” I have been blessed to be surrounded by ones who could not love me any less.

  My first date with my wife included meeting her sister’s kids. There were a few moments where they would stare at my head and ask questions, but what it all came down to is that I am not that much different. I might have to take my cochlear implants off when we go on the trampoline, but that does not keep us from laughing and smiling. I may have to try harder to understand what they are talking about, but they have 100% of my attention. I may not always hear right, but my heart does.

  Over the summer I got to spend lots of time with them, play, run around and climb up and down stairs over and over. Their little hands holding my finger as we walk around is priceless and I am the luckiest as they call me uncle. 

 

August 11, 2015

Traveling & Cochlear Implants

  


3 cars and 11 of us
traveling the country! 
   I love to travel and this year my wife and I were blessed to be able to travel in five different countries. Earlier this year we did a two-week trip in England, France, and Wales. Visiting England was a dream come true and we got to travel with people we love and cherish. It was also my first time traveling internationally. Being deaf and wearing Cochlear Implants, my first thought was “Hmm, how is this going to work?” Some of the challenges I face when traveling is always these two things: (a) How will I re-charge my batteries? (b) How much battery life do I need and have?


Downtown London
    Traveling internationally was daunting when I asked myself the first question, as I know my brother fried some of his electronics due to different power outlets or wattage during his time there.  My heart would start pounding at the thought of watching my equipment getting all fried up. Thankfully, my cochlear implants came with a converter designed for those countries and my equipment. That brought a peace of mind, but still the worse case scenario was always in the back of my mind.  So, to help ease my worries I brought a third charger that was my old backup charger. Well, it became my guinea pig for all seven hotels we stayed in. If it did not get all fried up then I knew I was safe.  That is what got me through the trip.

Riding the boat in Paris
   Now, the second question was a little more stressful for me. On an average day I carry five batteries to get me through the day. A new battery for my right ear will last a full four hours and my left ear will get about 24 hours. (The difference is due the different age of the cochlear implant technology) Like any battery, it will lose  charge over time.  After awhile, some of my batteries will last anywhere from 4 hours to 20 minutes. Each day I constantly calculate how many batteries I need for the day and also plan night activities around the amount of battery life I have left.
So, planning for an international trip was a little more extensive than a normal day. My first hurdle was the long flight. Will I be able to charge my batteries on the flight or do I need to turn them off and be deaf the entire flight??  Right before we left I bought another battery just in case.  Getting a new battery is like a Christmas morning to me as: (a) they are around $200 per battery and (b) I get more battery life, which makes me really happy.  I feel like a robot at this point, but it is true and has been the story of my life. 
Paris!! 

  The time came to board our long journey to England and once we switched planes in Canada I found that each seat had an outlet where you can charge stuff. I was super excited! I pulled out my chargers and was able to charge my batteries as we traveled and had enough battery life to experience a memorable welcome to England! By the third day, I was able to develop a routine and knew how much battery life I had each day.


  After our time there, traveling in the USA was so much easier. The following months included a trip to Idaho and then a quick weekend trip this past weekend for my brother-in-law’s wedding. Packing up my equipment for my ears and calculating my battery life was a piece of cake. It also helps to have an amazing wife who is able to sign to me if I have to be deaf for a few hours while traveling.

July 27, 2015

Hearing in The Classroom

   

Last September I enrolled into a college program through BYU-Idaho called Pathway. The program is three semesters long and last week I finished the last semester of the program. Wahoo! It was a great experience and now I am waiting for acceptance into the Online Degree Program with BYU-Idaho.

The Pathway program was online and on Thursday nights we gathered with other pathway students in the area and went to our religion class. After the religion class we spent time teaching and reviewing what we learned from the online portion. Being deaf, wearing Cochlear Implants and hearing in a classroom setting can be rough and very challenging for me. Hearing as a student brings its own set of challenges as does hearing as the teacher/instructor.

Being a student and listening to instructors often resulted in asking a classmate what was being said. For most of my online classes I took advantage of the captions that are available along with the pause and rewind features. It was totally awesome and perfect for me. When I learn something new or something finally makes sense to me, it makes all my efforts to hear everything worth it.

Being an instructor is really challenging. When there is constant interaction between instructor and students it can get a little overwhelming. Every Sunday I teach a small class of 7-8 year olds. They are really energetic and love to share what’s on their minds. This past Sunday was particularly challenging as I tried to teach the lesson. When the class time was over, I was cleaning up the room and one of the kids stopped at the door. He turned to me and said, “Thank you for teaching us.” Those words were loud and clear to me and made my constant efforts to hear worth something.

Hearing in the classroom can be challenging, but every now and then you will find a moment that makes it all worth it.

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My advice for the new school year:

· Don’t be afraid to ask for someone to repeat something.

· Not sure you fully understand what someone said? Repeat back to them what you heard.

· Need specific accommodations? Contact the school ahead of time and explain your needs.

· Don’t wait for them to come to you, go to them first.

· Take control of your education – be creative.