Hard work pays off with awards for deaf school students [Loch Raven column]

Six-year-old Max Shlindler of Towson was presented on Feb. 6 the Most Improved Independent Skills award by his kindergarten teacher Jody College at Maryland School for the Deaf. An exciting award for any child and parents, but for Max, it comes after lots of hard work and hundreds of hours of therapy. 

Although Max was born with moderate hearing loss, at 18 months old, he was engaging in spoken conversations with adults, which is atypical of kids with hearing loss. Turns out, he also has Asperser syndrome which resulted in language skills well above the level of most kids his age.

His mild cerebral palsy was noticed when he was lagging behind in fine and gross motor skills probably caused by a prenatal stroke. So speech, physical and occupational therapy began soon after birth and he wore leg braces. Parents Ashley and Eric Shlindle, made sure he got the therapy and treatment he needed.

Ashley said, "Max, now at 6, can zip his jacket on his own and put his shoes on — and yes it takes us time. But I would rather him learn to be able to do it himself. When most parents don't want their child jumping off the couch a thousand times, I was cheering him on!" She also credits Maryland School for the Deaf.

She concluded "From all this hard work Max was awarded a wonderful certificate, Most Improved Independent Skills award. His father, little brother, Ben, and I could not be more proud of him. To me this award means the world."

First-grader Marshall Taylor, who lives just west of Loch Raven, received the Recognizing and Reading Words Independently award.  

At Cromwell Valley Park, naturalist Anne Wedgeworth reported, "The kids eyes absolutely lit up when they saw the two tables full of natural supplies that they would use to build:  sticks, balsa wood,  real cotton, moss, seed pods, pine cones, pebbles, sea shells, acorns, dried grasses, and more." The project: build a model tree house on Sunday, Feb. 16.

After a brief discussion about tree houses, kids were provided with a a tree limb two to three feet long secured to a base and then encouraged to "let their imagination soar." And they did!

After two hours, they shared their creations which included a rooftop astronomy room with a telescope made of sticks for star gazing.  Another tree house had a room for a romantic dinner with a table and two chairs with little cushions, a sea shell with bean seeds in it to look like food on the table and a chandelier made from a prickly ball from a sweet gum tree. Another had a slide for a quick exit.

Luckily this is an annual program as some kids asked to return next year and another took home the fixings to build a second tree house. Wedgeworth concluded "I have an absolute blast providing the canvas for these creative minds!"

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