Thursday, February 12, 2009
Cochlear Implant + AVT= No Deaf School?
Apparently not always! See, life is like a McDonald's Happy Meal- you can ask for that girl toy - without fail they give you the boy toy...and you can ask for the six-piece chicken nugget- but without a doubt-every now and then you get the four-piece. What does a good mom always do??? Check that Happy Meal before driving away...
Kim left Jaden's Story on the comments of the last blog post. Hats off to his mom who saw her son suffering and did something about it, despite what the professionals tried telling her...
One particular comment in the article hit home:
Although I was fearful leaving him in class on his first day, my gut knew that he was safe, and that he would be understood there. When I say understood, I don’t mean language-wise, I mean that people would understand him being Deaf—that they would see him as a whole human being—a smart and beautiful little boy. All he needed was access to an accessible language.
Just like Jaden, Jordan was a king tantrum tosser and not a day went by during his pre-school years that I didn't drop him at that door with a gut-wrenching torment in the pit of my stomach. You know when your child is understood...and loved. They resented his presence at that pre-school, they were scared of him and his inability to communicate effectively. He had his support teacher beside him who loved him, or I would never have left him at the door; I knew she protected him and was able to communicate with him.
*What happens when you drop your child at school and he is ALONE - isolated by a lack of communication skills?*
Either you do what I did and you insist with intensive speech therapy at home, even if the results are very slow in coming. Note: I saw that Jordan was progressing. Or you do what Jaden's mom did, you seek other options - Jaden was not progressing. It is FUNDAMENTAL that these options exist.
The biggest value in deaf schools, however, is not the quality of education (and that varies from school to school) but in the social environment. When one is equal to everybody else and can comprehend what happens around them, that is a priceless experience of normality unavailable in the outside world.
It is educational because it gives one an idea of what life would be like if one were hearing and/or treated like hearing people. With that insight, one can face the outside world and rightfully expect equal access.
For example, watching teachers discuss topics among themselves, watching peers argue about events, or just discussing things that do not directly involve oneself gives a child the feeling that he is not the center of his universe. This means not merely seeing people flap their mouths, but understanding them.
This prepares the child to give input, to contribute, to make choices, to ask questions. This teaches the child that there are bigger things out there that they need to know about.
When the child reaches his teens, this environment teaches him interactive skills that will impact his choice of a mate, raising his family, and keeping his professional and family relationships in order.
All of this can be available in the hearing environment, but is much harder to obtain, takes longer to understand, and teaches one a sense of helplessness before it teaches a sense of involvement. If it happens that the child learns a dependent state of mind, the hearing school does not offer much in learning independence.
Yes, keep all the options open for a variety of educational experiences, but do not close the schools for the deaf.
There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to communicate. Communication is a reciprocal operation- I tell you something, you validate me and then you tell me something. When the wires get crossed, messages get mixed and confusion ensues. A child cannot manage the confusion, so producing the message becomes even more difficult.
*It took Jordan until he was five years old to be able to introduce himself to another person without stumbling and mumbling, "Hi, my name is Jordan*
Psychological issues compound the confusion and our children get lost. There is nothing more tragic than a lost child. The parent is that child's lifeline. But that parent needs resources. And mainstreaming a Deaf child who cannot communicate orally is just not the answer for every deaf child.