About 8 years ago....
On Saturdays during the summer my family would always set out on an adventure. One such day found us in Santa Monica shopping. We had stopped at an outdoor ice cream shop for a snack. My son was trying convince me to invite his friend for a sleep over and it was beginning to be a bit of a whiny exchange when I said no. I looked out on the sidewalk and saw a mother of a child that attended the same Bi/bi preschool as my son. I invited her to join us. I was relieved to have a distraction because to be honest my son was driving me nuts. Yes, even though I love him to bits and he is amazing he is a typical kid and I am a typical mom and sometimes he would whine and I would get frustrated.
We started our conversation with the usual polite inquiries. How is your family? Enjoying your summer? I was a wee bit frustrated that she wasn't signing so I had to interpret the whole conversation. My pleasant distraction was not helping by talking.
I asked if her son was excited for school to start.
She said she realized her son wanted to hear.
She was going to transfer him to the oral program because of a car alarm. He had responded to a car alarm and based on that he would go to an oral class,
based on that the district would honor her wishes and support her decision
based on that she would stop signing,
based on that he was now cut off from the deaf community
based on that he would most likely not have a naturally acquired native language
based on that he would struggle to grasp English
based on that he would most likely have academic and social delays
based on that people would blame the delays on the child and his deafness, my guess is at the age of four he really didn't want to hear
and based on that I hate car alarms.
Today, historically from what I have seen......
I was surprised that a lot of the deaf kids at the state deaf school where so behind their hearing peers academically. I knew most of them from volunteering and they were smart, creative kids. There were only a handful of kids in elementary but many more in the upper grades. The answer, they tell me is because many mainstream to begin with and the families often don't sign much so by the time they reach middle school or high school they are labeled as failures and shipped off to the deaf school to undo the damage.
At the deaf school they maybe find community for the first time. They are often taught by educated deaf adults who understand how they can easily access the curriculum. They can socialize in the comfort of their accessible language and have deaf adults to model culture, humor and folklore.
I often daydream and think what if? So what if the family starts signing early, in fact all families? What if they are supported with speech,English, ASL, and community. What if the parents are introduced to the world they have entered with their child by someone who has first hand knowledge? What if because they had this support they will enter the world on equal terms? What if the reverse happens and they mainstream later and find success? What if they stay at the deaf school and still find success?What if we let go a bit? What if we give up a wee bit of control?
Everything I post is just my feelings from raising my deaf son. I am posting for my son to understand his history and family. I in no way wish to upset anyone.