Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ugh, maybe I'm giving up

We went and visited Miss Kat's school today. I wanted to observe her speech therapy, and see if it has improved since we have written better goals, and the SLP has spoken with our private therapist....NOPE!

I was terribly upset at what I saw. First, it was conducted in the classroom, while other kids are there, doing other noisy things. Second, she still has NO IDEA how to do appropriate therapy for kids with CI's. Third, she signed the entire time! Ummm, if you sign OF COURSE she can tell the difference between boot and boat. Freakin' ridiculous. I'm just so upset about the whole thing. What part of "If you talk, she will learn to listen, and if she learns to listen, she will learn to talk" is so hard to understand? I have put her in contact with what I consider the PREMIER aural rehab specialist in the area, I have given her appropriate goals, I have even pointed her towards great materials, WHY IS SHE STILL DOING VISUAL PHONICS????

On the other hand, I also visited the 1st grade class at Miss Kat's school. Those kids are doing amazing. They are all completely on grade level. They are reading and writing and doing math...I love it! They are great kids with a great teacher. I collected up some of their "average" homework/curriculum and went over to the other school to ask the Oral school teachers if their kids are doing the same sort of work. I want to be perfectly clear with EVERYONE (at Miss Kat's school, at the oral school, and just the world in general) that we are NOT willing to move schools if that means we sacrifice her academics for speech. I want to know that she will be getting the same level of education, regardless of the mode of communication used in the classroom. So, we headed on over to the oral school....

And we were turned away! We were told that if we want to speak to the teachers, we need to make an appointment. Rather than speak to us (parents who fully intend(ed?) to have a child in their classroom in the very near future), they went and got the program director to ask us to leave. Wow, that is very encouraging. That is a surefire way to get me to want to turn my child over to for most of her waking hours, refuse to talk to me! They said that it was their lunch time, and they didn't want to see us....

Maybe I'm way off base, and this is totally normal, but this is certainly not what I am used to. Miss Kat's school encourages parents to be there. If I have a question for a teacher, I go and talk to them! The 1 st grade teacher let us just sit in on the class for an hour (totally unannounced) today. Miss Kat's teacher has invited me to come do a "listening time" once a week for the kids in the class who could benefit. It is like one big family. Everyone knows everyone, and we all help each other out. Maybe it is normal for teachers to be too important and busy for parents, but I don't like it.

So, as we were being escorted out, I asked the oral program director a few questions. I asked if the kids in the class were on grade level. She said she couldn't talk about specific kids (duh!) but that as soon as they are "at level", they are mainstreamed out into a hearing classroom for that subject. WHAT???? Miss Kat is "on level" for just about everything and she sure ain't ready to be mainstreamed! I know that she won't be because her receptive and expressive spoken language are so far behind, but I don't like that one bit. That means every single child in her classroom is behind, otherwise they wouldn't be in there! So, how are you supposed to teach grade appropriate material if every single kid is not "on level"? It doesn't make sense. And, why aren't they? If the kids in Miss Kat's school are learning English as a second language and they are able to do age appropriate reading, why can't the oral kids? Doesn't that mean the school is failing them? Plus, who says I even want to mainstream her???

Ugh, what a terrible day! I wish I lived somewhere that understood the importance of both ASL and spoken language. I get so sick of both sides trying to prove the other side wrong. "WE are right! Speech is what matters. If your child can't speak he will never get anywhere in the world. He will never get a job, he won't even be able to order at McDonald's. Speech is important! It must come first. If they can't speak and understand, they won't have a language. We will make sure they can speak!" vs. "WE are right! Speech doesn't matter at all. ASL is the key. If you child learns ASL, everything else will be perfect. Yes, they will have to learn English as a second language....but that is just fine! Speech is nothing! Our kids will be successful with NO SPEECH AT ALL! That is how unimportant speech is! ASL will solve all the problems!"

I am so sick of it. Sick of the fighting, the meaningless protests, the name calling. I quit....


Sharyn said...

I can relate your frustration. Maybe find another school that give you and kid a choice to learn ASL and speech. I grew up learn both of them. I chose ASL that fits me quite well. Learning to speak only first is not helping. Kids need know language that is the primary for education in the future. Encourage her to start read book and write something. Feed the education in her. Bilingual helps a lot. That how I learn to write quite well. I just share with you based in my experience. I had to fight real hard when I was teenager to learn to read and write because of lack of education in old school. Go a school that is flexible and supports education as primary for kids. Make sure that they encourage kids to achieve and a chance enter college, etc...

Karen Mayes said...

Ah. Education is important, yes. So oracy is important in some instances. It is a challenge to find a desirable school that could meet all the child's needs.

I wish you best. You sound like you have a mission... to find the best school :o)

Valhallian said...

I just wanted to comment that while I am no expert in the AVT concept and I am referring to the "old school" way of teaching the deaf how to speak. I'd imagine that what I have to say here also relates to AVT programs. While different programs across the country may fluctuate in terms of success but from my personal experience and seeing those people that went to the same or similar programs that I went through, there was one factor that stood out way above anything else when it comes to the success rate..... the parental involvement.

I do see the dedication that you are putting into Miss Kat's life so you already are on track. When I was growing up (remember this is old school) whenever I came home from an oral program, my father would pull out speech cards and we would practice it at home. I guess what I am saying is that if you are not happy with what you are seeing from Miss Kat's school when it comes to listening and speaking but you like what you see in the first grade class. Perhaps you could take the incentive to do the "practicing" at the home.

To name another example, I have actually met other deaf people that speak quite well and they never once attended an oral program, the person had learned it all from the home and thats when you know that he or she had dedicated parents and again proves the point of parental involvement.

In conclusion, I'd like to close this with the encouragement that you do not give up. What you are encountering is among the first of what will likely be many obstacles that both you and miss kat will face and if you can teach her how to overcome those first few obstacles, she will be on target to be able to overcome many other obstacles on her own down the road. Why? cuz she has a great mom and dad to teach her to overcome those obstacles ;) Good luck and I'm rooting for ya.

leah said...

Why does it have to be so hard? I would be worried about the school not allowing a prospective student's parent in without an appointment. We avoided a particular day care for Matt because you had to schedule appointments!

I wish you lived closer to us- the school in Buffalo uses auditory-oral (not AVT) with the Moog curriculum and their kids seem to be doing pretty well. AND they encourage parent interaction. It's not AVT, but it seems to work. I think Paula's daughter from teh Hearing Exchange went through the Moog curriculum and it helped her, too. Sometimes there aren't enough options for our kids!

Kelly said...


I just wanted to let you know that I think it's awesome what you're trying to do. You see the importance of providing access to both ASL and oral language. For some reason there are many people out there who seem to think that only one should be used. They then forget how important it is for each deaf child to have access to communication/language regardless of which method.

You also bring up a great point. Education. I don't know how many oral deaf people I have met who have wonderful oral skills but are behind educationally wise. It is possible to success using the oral method and while receiving a great education. Unfortunately, my experience is that some oral schools do not do this very well. It is something that you'll have to continuously follow up on as Kat goes through school.

Kat is lucky to have a parent who sees the importance of providing access to ASL and oral while ensuring she receives a great education. It's not going to be easy, but it's not impossible. Just keep at it! :-)

Zen Nihilist said...

You are fighting an important fight, so please don't surrender!

My family is facing a similar challenge. We're hearing. Our 1 1/2 year-old son is deaf. We decided early on that ASL was critical to his well-being because it is a language he will not have to struggle to use once he learns it, whereas hearing will always be harder for him, even if/when he gets a cochlear implant.

Our local schools have been useless for ASL and even now, as we review our IEP, are not really stepping up to help us continue to use and improve ASL. They seem even more reluctant to consider ASL as we start to explore speech therapy and an implant.

But of course we're a hearing family and we want our son to be included by default as much as possible, so we think we'll get him the CI. But then they tell us we need to stop signing because it will be a crutch or interfere with speech development!

This either/or stuff is just nonsense. Hard to be stuck in the middle. But you're doing great. You really are. Keep it up!

Mrs. Bick said...

I only just skimmed this post. I will go back and reread, adding comments if needed.

You have every reason to be as frustrated as you are. It is not uncommon, unfortunately, to see children with CI treated in the manner Miss Kat is regarding speech. Most people in the mainstream education system are not familiar with deafness or CI. Some honestly do not have a good understanding to realize that signing during speech is counterproductive. That doing speech in class, while it might (I stress might) work for some children, is highly inappropriate for meeting her needs.

I am appalled that you visited the Oral school and were turned away. (Now I am curious what school.) Never should a parent be turned away, unless there is a restraining order, and documentation to warrant such action. At the very least you should have been courteously greeted, politely explained the school's policy regarding visitation (and how many students and teachers find unscheduled visits disruptive), and helped at that time to book a convenient appointment.

My heart goes out to you. It seems, at least from my perspective, and having worked with deaf children just like Miss Kat, that she has great potential to do very, very well with her CI AND retain a healthy deaf identity. Keep fighting. Your purpose is in her best interest. Document EVERYTHING. And show your documentation at IEP meetings, to administration, and use in due process if that is what is required to get her the Free Appropriate Public Education you are paying for and she deserves.

JR said...


I'm a teacher who would love to work with your daughter - and I'd be excited to try out a variety of things. I think it's a shame that the people you're working with either can't or don't want to explain the method behind what you see as madness.

sunbleached said...

Don't give up! What you are trying to get for your daughter is a great thing and shouldn't be put to the side. It's going to be difficult but keep trying and keep looking around!

kim said...

Wow-- seems like your choices are limited all the way around. How frustrating!

Putting it in perspective there are many reasons why some kids might be 'behind' in first grade. Often LD's aren't even diagnosed until first grade or well beyond. It's not always the school's fault. My son's LD wasn't officially diagnosed until the third grade though it was clear something wasn't right from the beginning. Once the mystery was solved we finally understood his needs and he was put on a 504. Eventually he excelled beyond our expecatations.

Though, like you, I was vigilant in securing the proper environment for him, and there was a time I had to fight over his accommodations.

I encourage you to make that appointment with the public school and give them a second chance to answer all your questions.

Dianrez said...

Been there, done that. Thank God, my son is grown up and on his own as far as education is concerned.

Things that my parents, and when it was my turn, we have considered:

1)Moving to the area where the best program is. My parents did that, moving from Virginia to New York when I was 11.

2)Establishing a charter school, hiring teachers, and taking over some of the educational tasks along with other parents. This is possible, but takes a lot of research and effort.

3)Recognizing the limitations of the current school and trying to do something about it by working within their PTA, or;

--being proactive in the IEP process and inserting criterions for completion for the specifics you want Miss Kat to master, or;

--supplementing the school's program with a weekend or weekly program of your own design, and administered by yourself or an outside person you bring in, or exchanging turns with another parent.

One thing I have learned is that no one school program will fit every child's need.

Those with special needs, such as the ones with minimal learning dysfunction, or the gifted, or those out of the ordinary in any way, will be the most underserved. This is true of ANY school, even the hearing schools.

paula rosenthal said...

Your experience here reminds me of my own 11 years ago. We enrolled our daughter in an oral deaf program when she was 2 that didn't allow us to observe the classes, didn't feel that what we as parents had to say was important, wouldn't let us volunteer even in the building, reprimanded us when we stood outside the classroom door to pick her up etc. etc. Obviously, the school realized it was not up to appropriate standards and didn't want parents to know. We removed her before the year was over and found alternative placement until we located a better oral program that would accept her. The second was light years ahead of the first and she had a terrific 3 years there before she was mainstreamed. Don't be discouraged or turned off to the idea of teaching your daughter spoken language because her current program is difficult to work with. All oral programs are NOT created equal. Making a commitment to whatever it is you want for her means not giving up until you get exactly what you're looking for.

Marny in Maryland said...

Melissa -

The oral program doesn't sound like a good fit for your family! It doesn't surprise me to hear that most of the kids in the first grade class are behind. In this day and age of early implantation, many, many kids with CIs are caught up with same-age peers and very ready to enter "regular" school by first grade. In fact, many are included with supports from the beginning and never attend oral schools at all. Many of the kids who are in oral programs, esp. by 1st grade are those who do need extra support. This may not mean that there is anything "wrong" with what the school is doing, but they may not be a good peer group for Miss Kat.

Have you considered your regular, neighborhood school with an interpreter-tutor for Miss Kat? It could be the best of all worlds -- access to the full, regular first grade curriculum and high expectations, immersion in spoken language, etc. If you specify "interpretor-tutor" (rather than "straight" interpreter) in the IEP, that person can be tasked to vary the support as Miss Kat's spoken language improves. She can speak for herself or sign and let the 'terp voice as it suits her, etc. Finding a good 'terp-tutor can be hard, but it might be an option worth exploring.

Ambulance Mommy said...

I dont have any words of advice or wisdom, because I find myself in the same boat with my son.

Everyone tells us that with just his unilateral loss, there is no need for the sign, but then again, no one can tell us WHY he lost the one ear, and guarentee us that he won't loose even more. So we just think being proactive is a good idea, and we think ASL is a beautiful language, and there can only be benefits from having two or more languages.

Its not easy to feel like every day is a fight. To wake up and go "ugh, I have to fight with SOMEONE today to get the best for my child" and it gets exhausting. But thats why we all have each other online :) We keep each other going with new and interesting ideas, and we send hugs when others need them.