Today was the big IEP meeting. With only 6 days remaining before school begins, we had to finally choose a placement for Miss Kat.
(A reminder for the folks at home), our choices are:
1. ASL bilingual bicultural, voice off program. She can receive up to 40 minutes a week (though in the past it has been limited to 20) of SPEECH therapy. It is not spoken language or aural rehab, simply speech. All of speech therapy will be conducted in SIM-COM. "SLP" has never worked on spoken language acquisition in deaf children with CI's. She herself admits she doesn't know what to do, and only knows "speech". Interaction in spoken language in the classroom would be limited to phonetic awareness, and always used with signing.
2. Auditory oral (oral only) classroom for the deaf. Miss Kat would get no ASL support here. No one signs or understands sign.
3. Mainstream with an interpreter. She wouldn't have any direct instruction from a Teacher of the Deaf and she would be the only deaf child in the school. Oh, and our neighborhood school sucks!
So, we sat down at the table, with the booklet that I sent out to all the team members. It was a compilation of all the assessments Miss Kat has had, her audiograms, and our goals. Right from the start I said, "We believe that Miss Kat will use ASL everyday for the rest of her life. We also believe that she can learn to listen and to speak. We don't mean that she will use an interpreter, or a pen and paper when she communicates with hearing people. We don't mean that she will lipread, or that she will learn a few simple phrases. We believe that she will use and understand spoken language fluently. So, we need to find a plan that will help her achieve this."
What we finally came up with was this: Miss Kat will be attending the Oral deaf education class. She will receive Teacher of the Deaf services from a teacher who specialises in ASL, at least once a week, for 30 minutes. That teacher will pre-teach material from the classroom, bridge information, and just generally continue to help Miss Kat learn and use ASL. We are sort of modeling as "ASL therapy" pull-outs instead of speech!
We will be having another IEP with the new teachers to write new goals.
This IEP is valid for the first semester. We will be having another meeting to reassess after that time, to make sure this placement is working.
This is the very short and tidy version. I have cut out all the crying and the confession that Miss Kat told me she want to go to the "talking school" and all my fears about becoming the dreaded "oral mom".
I think this is the best plan we could come up with. I am glad we found a way to make sure Miss Kat is still getting ASL. We are also going to continue to be active in the Deaf community, and attend our Deaf church. We have a monthly playdate set up with one of Miss Kat's best friends, and we will be attending the bi-bi school's 10th anniversary party a week from Saturday.
Yeah, Miss Kat will still be signing. We want her to be BI-lingual. We have spent 5 years on her L1 (ASL) and now the focus is shifting to emphasis her L2 (English). It has been a difficult decision, but we need to allow her the opportunity to succeed in both, and this is what
we believe is the best way to make sure that can happen.