I was talking with Hubby today about all the decisions we have had to make for Miss Kat, and there have been A LOT! Communication methods, IFSP goals, school placements, speech therapists, IEP goals, language choices, school choices, and on and on. But out of all of those decisions, two have stood out as the most important choices we have made for her.
1. Making ASL her primary language.
2. Giving her a cochlear implant.
The first wasn't a difficult choice, we just sort of fell into it. We started as a TC family, but it slowly evolved to ASL. She understood ASL better than English word order, and she always signed ASL herself. We eventually went voice off because the voicing wasn't adding anything and her spoken language wasn't developing so we just, sort of, stopped emphasising it in daily life. Once she was an ASL user, the rest of the choices sorted themselves out. Her school placement was a given. Her goals were easy. We even had no choice in what speech therapist we saw because there was only one who signed!
We made that choice and it was an amazing choice. She thrived and had great language skills. She did wonderfully! It was the right choice and it has served her well!
Second, we chose to give her a cochlear implant. This was a more difficult choice. It took a little more time and research and deliberation. When we did decide to implant her, we thought it was simply going to end her hearing loss progression and restore the (very little) benefit she received from her hearing aids in the past. Boy were we off the mark!!
When we made the decision to implant her, we had no idea that it would have the profound effect on her life that it did. We just thought we were upgrading her hearing device, not changing our life course!
Since implantation Miss Kat has developed open set spoken language understanding. That means that she understands the running speech of strangers and does not have to rely on lipreading or guessing. She is able to discriminate ALL the sounds of spoken English and can hold conversations from other rooms, downstairs or the backseat of the car. She is hearing very well.
We have made many decisions based on the success of the decision to implant. Our choice to move her from the bi-bi school, the choice to emphasis spoken language, even the choice to move here. Unlike the choices that followed ASL, each of these decisions have been equally tough. Our path continues to be full of worry and unknowns, but the joy on this journey is equal to that which we experienced on our former path.
So, parents of deaf kids out there....What was the BEST decision you made for your little one??