About 10 years ago........
What I am writing is just what I felt at this time. It is in no way am attempt to judge others experience and is unique to our family. It is really hard to just tell exactly what was on my mind because it is such a touchy subject but I think it is important for my son to know what was going through our minds right or wrong.
We had this idea that if the Early Intervention program would just allow parents the opportunity to experience ASL in a group setting with deaf adults we all could benefit. It seemed so simple and we couldn't figure out why others didn't get it. There was nowhere in the system to accommodate this. There was the option of going to the charter school for ASL lessons but nothing really that modeled a fully inclusive environment for us with our kids.
I asked for my son's IFSP to be amended what felt like a million times. I worked my way through the chain of command. Just today I sat down and looked at my son's IFSP from our second year in the system. We had a new home visit teacher who was hh and hired in part because of our pleas for a deaf teacher. She was awesome and a wee bit naive. We had 11 outcomes listed on our IFSP and they all were concerned with ASL and exposure to deaf adults in a group setting. We had prepared the wording before the meeting so the school district would be legally obligated to comply once it was signed. Of course she wrote it all down and everyone signed but of course it didn't happen and we fought harder.
The folks involved all thought I was crazy because my son was fine in fact exceeding benchmarks for hearing kids. If he was fine why was I fighting? Well.... he needed peers and I knew once he grew past the stage of play that is typical for a 2 year old, once he became a critical thinker, once he needed other children to learn how to enter the world he would be at a disadvantage.
I was also so frustrated that other parents were asking for help and sent down the rabbit hole of "non bias support". It was the stance of the system to not try and influence the choices of the parent and yet that stance left the parent without any information beyond the programs set up by the schools.The programs were set up by folks who believed in a certain philosophy. It really presents as a bias approach and wastes a great deal of time while the parent researches and decides where to go. While they wait they are influenced by the teachers college back round. Educators are practicing what they are taught and there were (maybe still?) not enough college programs that support ASL as a first native language. So I felt my son deserved the right to be educated by and with people who shared our philosophy of ASL as a native language. This of course is my opinion of what we were experiencing. I am sure others did not feel this way.
Well I could go on and on about why I still wanted change....
My son became the ripe old age of twelve last week. Birthdays are always such an measure of where we are at.
About a week before I asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate. He wasn't sure. I suggested a party with some of his hearing and deaf friends. He didn't really jump at that. It tuns out his deaf friends don't like the stuff his hearing friends like. We didn't really know what to do. He decided to just invite his CODA friend for a fun outing and a sleep over.
The next day his new hearing friends ( ASL students who hang out with him every day at school) texted me to tell me they were planning a surprise party for him. I offered up my house and pizza they did the rest. It was really fun and a big surprise. After the party they all went to a musical at school. There were two interpreters and they meant to have his silent amp on his chair but the new sound board wasn't set up for it. He still loved the play.
The next day a teacher and mentor told me about a Comedia Del Arte play at a local university. My son is in a commedia play right now and would jump at the chance to see it. I had a week to get interpreters. The directer emailed me and said he was trying to figure it out and that they had never had a request like this at the theater. I expected the worst and pleasantly surprised when they not only got two theater interpreters but the directer met us at the door and walked us to our seats. He talked with my son and had the actors come introduce themselves. When it was time for the play to start the sang happy birthday....in ASL.
He tells me this is his best birthday ever. What hit me was there were no deaf people involved and this felt really strange. He didn't seem to notice. I have to admit I am a bit confused.If 10 years ago had someone told me my son would be mainstreamed full time and very happy I would have laughed. Had someone suggested he wouldn't be isolated but in fact very social with his hearing friends again that would have solicited a laugh and perhaps an eye roll. I believe that because we did raise his in a bi/bi enviroment he has the tools to navigate the world. He is still Deaf but it does not define him. He doesn't want to be hearing and celebrates deaf culture. He does however also love the rest of what life has to offer. He has reached an age where I don't need to choreograph every aspect of his life. I will slowly step back and watch him suceed or fail on his terms. I will not look to the future pretending to know what will happen next but I will fasten my seat belt and enjoy the ride.