We had Miss Kat's second IEP meeting in two weeks. The school would not budge. We can either take what we have right now (Oracy, every morning for 15 minutes working on phonics, by a hard of hearing woman trained in bilingual education, not oral, speech once a week by an SLP who has never worked with a successful CI user, and NO listening or spoken language time...not to mention terrible speech goals) or we can move to an oral program with sign support.
She will be moving. Not because we want her to stop signing, or because we value spoken language over ASL, but because it is what is right for her. We have a very short window of opportunity for success with the implant. Most of the progress she will make will be in the next 3 years. We want her to have the most opportunities, and before the CI that meant ASL and bilingual education. Post-CI it means an oral program. It is not because we now value speech above language or education, but because the silence of bi-bi WILL hold her back. She needs to immersed in sound and spoken language and they just can't (or won't) do that.
This is a terribly bittersweet moment for us. We have always hoped that our child would be able to succeed with spoken language, but now that she has, we are sad for the things she will be forced to leave behind. She has a wonderful school with kind, loving, sweet friends. I had so hoped to see her grow up with them. I love her facial expression, and the way her body looks when she signs. She is so beautiful.
I hope that we will be able to continue her growth in ASL and in spoken language, but I fear the worst. When you have two communities that fight and loath each other the way that the Deaf and AVT do, it is difficult. I hope the local Deaf community will continue to see my daughter as their own, the way they have for so long. I hope that she will still be welcomed in the homes of these friends. I hope that they will still love her and share their lives with her.
I am so afraid. I cry and cry over this decision. I do not want to be the "oral mom". I do NOT want to sacrifice Miss Kat's happiness for speech. I just want to give her every opportunity and to follow her lead, and now, I fear her path has taken us to oral school. Ugh, things were so easy when she only wanted ASL.
I know that she will forever need ASL. She will need to use interpreters, probably in school and in "real life". In fact, some day she may go back to using ASL only, and perhaps take off her CI. And for this reason, we will continue to use ASL in our home, community and church. She needs to continue to gain fluency in ASL, it is her first language and it will be part of her forever. I hope that the Deaf community will continue to help our family raise a bilingual child.
All I want is that when she comes to me as an adult, I can look her in the eyes and tell her that I gave her everything. I gave her the chance to be successful. I gave her every opportunity and tool I could, and that I followed her lead.