Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The end of the school year

I spoke with Miss Kat's teacher today. We have really great news! Miss Kat is well above grade level for her math skills and has achieved her "need to be at this level by the end of Kindergarten" reading level as well. She is doing great!! I would say I was proud, but that would imply that *I* did it! It wasn't me, it was all Miss Kat and the best teacher in the whole world MISS AIMEE!!!!!!

In other news, the principal of Miss Kat's school sent me an email asking our intentions for next school year and how we were feeling about the therapy Miss Kat is getting in school (see this post for details http://misskatsmom.blogspot.com/2009/03/ugh-maybe-im-giving-up.html) She was hoping the therapy had improved since the school SLP came and visited one of Miss Kat's private therapy sessions. I responded by saying:

I have been unable to observe another speech pullout with Katrina since the SLP has visited with our therapist. But it seems unlikely that (SLP) will make a 180 degree turn around and suddenly have the skills to work with deaf children. I highly doubt that if Katrina attends (Bi-Bi school) next year that we will continue to have therapy with (SLP). She is clearly unqualified and ignorant to the needs of a CI user. I would hope that if we continue at (Bi-Bi school) there will be an option for appropriate therapy.

We are attending a special summer school with very intensive and specialized one-on-one instruction and assessment. We are hoping to return in August with more information and a better idea of what environment and services she will need.

I want to be perfectly clear. We intend to have a bilingual, bimodal child. Katrina has the right to access the curriculum through her native language, ASL AND she has the right to appropriate therapy.

We really have no idea what we are going to do for school next year. I feel like every available choice handicaps her in some way.

1. Stay at bi-bi school- She doesn't get any auditory input and gets VERY poor speech services
2. Go to oral class- She starts off SO far behind and doesn't continue to improve her ASL skills
3. Mainstream- She has no friends and is unable to communicate with her peers independently

What is a family to do??? Shouldn't all the professionals involved want what we want: a bilingual, bimodal child?! Is that really so impossible?


Anonymous said...

MKM, I feel your pain. As an employee at a so-called "bi-bi" program, I too wish that my school could be bimodal. Too many deaf people seem to feel that ASL, and ASL alone, is all that's needed for a child to succeed academically and socially. I don't quite get why it's not possible to have it all -- ASL *and* speech? My theory is that Deaf people who are fluent in ASL but have no speech still bear the psychological scars of being considered less worthy than their speaking deaf peers. I've often wondered what they think will happen if cochlear implanted students with good speech and usable hearing were "allowed" to enroll at my school and receive appropriate speech and auditory rehab services. How exactly will they be served? Will there be a separate, special class for oral students? Will there be a lot of pull-out, individual instruction, meaning that the child misses out on academic instruction? Will those students with oral skills still be considered "smarter" and get more positive attention than the ASL-only students? Will well-meaning hearing people once again take over schools for the deaf, giving rise to 100% oralism once again? this has happened in the past, and I'm betting folks are afraid it will happen again. This doesn't help Miss Kat any. My dearest wish is that those who have been hurt in the past on account of their ineffective speech put aside their personal grievances from their own childhoods and focus on the good of the children TODAY. A different generation of deaf children is coming up, with different needs. I don't think ASL-only approach will be accepted by parents of kids like yours. When the enrollment keeps dropping, hopefully someone will get a freaking clue.

Karen Mayes said...

My heart goes out to you. I am in the same boat as you are in right now, and my children who possess good aural skills are mainstreamed now and doing well. Socially, it is a different story, but I expected that anyway. As long as you continue being involved in the deaf community, Kat should be doing OK. Right now Indiana School for the Deaf just started Spoken English program in preschool, but it has some ways to go before any successes or failures could be determined, so we don't know.

It is not easy... like anonymous said, it could be fear that prevents it from happening... as well as insufficient information on the aural deaf children's needs, especially the ones who sign.

Dianrez said...

It is hard to see how a school for the deaf could simply drop speech training entirely...unless this is a new wave that I simply haven't seen coming.

In the past speech was such a big part of school that other language programs such as ASL, literature and English were affected drastically.

With my son, though, I saw speech training become optional when he reached age 14. (Never in my day!) I could see the sense of that...by age 14 speech patterns are already established, but language is still being developed.

I'm all for speech training, but would err on the side of language development by visual means (reading and sign) with the intention that speech development is pulled up by the growth of language.

An example from my experience: learning a bit of poetry in ASL including rhythm and repetition gave me understanding how language can convey pictures. When in speech class I was taught how to phrase and stress the words, it came more easily because the meaning was understood.

Had I learned it the other way around, I would have missed the drama and meaning of the poem entirely and would be just mechanically parroting it.

Anonymous said...

Dianrez, in my first comment, I was not talking about speech therapy. I was talking about ASL as the one and only language of instruction used all day long in the classroom. In other words, teachers and most students do not use their speech at all during class time, only ASL. This means that students who do have some speech and hearing, PLUS are fluent in ASL and therefore HAVE language, do not get to use their auditory or verbal skills at all during the school day. That's why I said my school is a so-called "bi-bi" (bilingual/bicultural) program. Literacy in English is through reading and writing ONLY, not speech. The only time a deaf student who has oracy skills gets to use them is after school with hearing peers and/or family members. That could be only on weekends, if they are resident students. For some reason, my school does not want to allocate a single minute of the school day to anything having to do with speech, except 60 minutes of speech therapy a week at most. I dislike this "one size fits all" approach to deaf education and see no reason why we can't include both approaches.

Dianrez said...

I wonder if it's really about a return to sim-com that you want. Not being an educational theorist, I can't say if that is good or if it screws up language even more as some say.

But it bears on the question: with a limited number of hours in a school day, how much do you want speech to impact on other studies that might be more critical to the deaf person, like writing and reading English?

School only lasts 30 hours a week. There are still the other 68 waking hours of the week, if one allows 10 hours per day for rest.

It wasn't speech that got me through college. It was my English skills.

Jean Boutcher said...

Anonymous said...
"As an employee at a so-called "bi-bi" program, I too wish that my school could be bimodal."

Not only I but also other people do not know how the bimodal approach can work. Can a child or an adult for that matter understand two different languages simultaneously? Let e make myself more clear. Can any human being understand another human being speak French and Spanish simultaneously? Most unlikely. Even ABC's Barbara Walters asked Miss America, Heather Whitestone, "Why did you not speak and sign simultaneously?" To which Miss Witestone replied without hesitation, "Can you understand English and French simultaneously?" Then she went on to say that that was not possible at all and that she had to choose one language. She could speak in English and could sign in ASL, but she could not do that BIMODALLY. The same is true with all human beings.

Structurally and syntaxially, ASL is remotely different from English. It is closer to some French and to some Latin.

If one wants to do the Simultaneous Communication, one would have to speak English and to fingerspell in that fingerspelling is the closest to English on the continuum. My mother was deaf. My stepfather was hearing and an international foreign language translator (he majored in Spanish linguistics at Barcelona). He never used Simultaneus Communication with my mother, my deaf sister, and me because it would not be linguistically feasible albeit the continuum.

If any typos, I apologise, for I used my laptop.

Anonymous said...

Jean Boucher, don't insult me by suggesting that I believe it's possible to speak English and sign ASL simultaneously. I'm talking about whether it is possible to give kids like Miss Kat more exposure to spoken English WITHIN an academic setting. Dianrez, I'm not talking about teaching speech to the exclusion of academics. Can you get with the times, please? I'm talking about USING speech TO teach academics, for those children who are able to access speech, like Miss Kat and others, but also need some sign support. Presumably, a teacher would be able to switch between ASL to spoken English, not use them simultaneously at the same time, for heaven's sake. Right now, the schools Miss Kat's Mom has found are either entirely ASL, entirely oral, or entirely in the mainstream with only an interpreter and no deaf peers. Hello? Neither of those options is a good fit for Miss Kat! Therefore, given her bimodal, bilingual communication skills, can she not have some spoken English in the classroom, along with ASL? How about creating a class for deaf spoken English users for English Language Arts? The rest of the time, Miss Kat could get instruction in other academic subjects (math, social studies, science, etc.) in ASL with deaf peers. I would not worry about Miss Kat excluding her deaf peers by using speech alone. Even young CODAs know when it's appropriate to code-switch.

For the record, with reference to sim-com, I've worked in other educational settings where sim-com was used. I've seen it used well, and I've seen some students benefit from it. Once again, sim-com works for some, ASL alone works for some, cued speech works for some, oralism works for some, exposure to language from birth works for everybody, and there is no one-size-fits-all. What worked for you would not work for me, and vice versa. Why should another child's options be limited just because someone else flourished another way?

Miss Kat's Parents said...


You are talking about exactly what is going on in Miss Kat's school. You are dead on about what we want and what she needs.

Jean Boutcher said...


I beg to respectfully disagree with your accusation. I did not insult you. I think you confuse the insult with the truth. The truth hurts when one discovers that it is not possible at all to use two different languages simulanteously (at the very same time). If you insist that it is possible, please spell out the name of a person who has two vocal chords, two mouths, and two tongues -- or two faces and four hands to use two DIFFERENT languages simultaneously.

Simultaneous Method is a misnomer (Schlesinger, 1976 -- a hearing psychologist in California). Well-informed people no longer use the term, "Simultaneous Method."

From a linguistic standpoint: bimodal method is non-existent or not possible at all as have explained earlier.

Lucky Day said...

Miss Kat's Mom

I have heard of some Bi-Bi programs that focus on speech for part of the day and focus on ASL during other parts of the day.

I engineering student at the local university says he was implanted at 5 (postlingualy) and studied in this sort of setting. So he was forced to learn both modalities. He said that was the benefit over TC (which is my preference). With TC the child can just pay attention to whatever modality they prefer. He has great signing and speech skills though, so definitely believe him.

It's a hard toss up, social versus academic needs. You acknowledge that your child's needs are individual, but schools aren't good at meeting individual needs.

On a happy note here is a link for a great teaching site that has little books for teaching reading skills and more.


We're just at the beginning reading phase so we just use the sight word books. But it's amazing to watch my deaf 4 year old son start to sound words out phonetically because of all the work we have done to get him to make sounds.