Friday, September 24, 2010

IEP VS 504

Today I had a meeting with the Special Ed folks. I wanted to address an issue with the interpreter's schedules. During the meeting I am told the school district reviewed my son's IEP and reported back that he doesn't qualify. They want to move him over to 504 accommodation. I remember a few years ago the deaf school said the same thing but because he is deaf he could still receive services. I hadn't thought about it much since then, until today. Maybe they are right?

Now I will have to research and figure this out. I have some time they never move quickly. The district is really great with what they offer. I have tons of experience with IEP jargon but none with 504 compliance.

I would love some feedback from anyone who has experience with this.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Last Gasp

Some would argue that my son is part of the last gasp of a dying culture. I am sure there was a mother in 1880 thinking the same thing.

I don't focus on the arguments for or against our choice. There is a reason for that. I can't change the opinions of others. I support the choices other parents make. I can enjoy sharing the joy of life with my son. I just think every child can enjoy all their body has to offer. I will not stand on the edge of a cliff staring at the end.

What surprises me is a culture that grows outside of itself. I see things that indicate this growth everyday.

When my son was two a new friend was frustrated that he acted up when she tried to take my husband's attention away. She tried gifts, fun adventures and finally took an ASL class.

She is now an interpreter.

When I worked on a TV show my son would come to visit often for lunch. The caterers would get confused when I interpreted. They learned how to take his order. He would walk up an request with ASL chicken or fish, veggies*yes!* , or rice all by himself. I would be sitting near by chatting with friends.

The assistant director noticed the connivence of sign. We would skip the radio after he was fluent to talk about the actors in delicate situations.

As my son grew people would ask questions. They would learn but they, for the most part were hearing.

I started to teach ASL to hearing parents and their children. My son was a guest teacher. He would come and tell stories and show them his poetry, read books using his language. He would entertain them and show them the beauty of his world. Several entered interpreting programs. Many still use ASL at home.

When my son goes to mainstream schools he is not cast out. He is not asked to speak. The school he attends now has added a third level to their ASL program. The students work hard to gain fluency just so they can "talk" to my son.

He is cast in a musical. The director is learning how to make a deaf kid "sing". So Deaf West is introduced to the school culture. His theater teacher is finding ways to integrate ASL into the class. They both saw Howie Seago preform in Ashland this summer.

Yesterday we took a train to go see "Cirque De Soleil". A Deaf cast member has been added. My son chose a hearing friend to come with us. This 18 year old kid is conversational in sign because he was in a theater company with my son. This year he is starting college. Guess what..... he wants to become an interpreter.

I could go on and on.

So as I stand at the edge of the cliff, the edge of the end, I chose to look forward and enjoy the ride.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I am the parent of a Deaf twelve soon to be thirteen year old. I am also profoundly hearing. I recently was strolling around DeafRead. I must admit I hate reading about the crimes of deaf adults. I choose not to. Sorry folks I find it depressing. This is not how I want the deaf community to present to my family. The community is big and varied enough to afford us this luxury.

On a different topic......OK I am going to brag a bit here so click away if that annoys you...

My deaf son was not arrested today.

My Deaf son was cast in a principal role for a musical today!

He goes to an arts school so this is no easy feat. We were registering at school and I saw the table for sign up. I asked if he wanted to try. He said "No Deaf "points to self* music". My son does not talk let alone sing. A theater teacher told him sign up. I couldn't believe that he thought he shouldn't try because he is deaf. Well 1 audition and 3 callbacks later he was cast.

The show opens in November. He is going to have so much fun.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The First Day Of School

I started this post on Wednesday night. Today is Saturday....hmmm.... busy start to the year.

Day One

So today was the big day. Last night was the big night. Its school time.

Of course I ignored the newsletter that reminded us to get the kids to sleep early a few nights before school starts. Yea, thats how we roll. So I am the brilliant mom chasing her kids to bed at 10pm. The morning started out fine. I forgot the art of lunch packing since my brain is still in bbq mode. Summer is gone for all intents and purposes but I haven't caught up. Crashing through the refrigerator I come up with carrots, slap some meat and cheese on baguette left over from dinner and grill on the trusty panini grill. I toss in a bottle of water and some random fruit. I will shop today and make it up to them on the second day of school.

My seven year old needs to wake up first. I make her some oatmeal and water. I know , prison food, I will get it right on the second day of school. She puts together a stunning ensemble. It is a symphony of stripes, flowers, polka-dots and sparkles. I drop her at school and off to wrangle the twelve year old. This is usually the most daunting task and today is no different.

Dropping my daughter off is easy, she walks to class and that is that. My son is different. He has new teachers so I need to contact all of them to offer assistance if they need it. I have found teachers who have never worked with a deaf kid can be nervous about it. Sometimes they need to be taught how to use the interpreter or they need to be aware videos need to be captioned. Please don't stand in front of a window while you lecture I tell them. I am teaching my son how to do this himself. Next year is sink or swim but this year I help a bit. My emails are light and I make attempts at humor. I have found over the years teachers are people and they respond better to the team player approach rather than the adversarial approach. I want to give them tools before they make a well meaning mistake.

I also contact his itinerant teacher. I set up a meeting to make sure everything is ready to go. I make sure he got the right interpreter. I wait to hear how his day went. I get a text to remind the school he will need an interpreter for callbacks for the musical. Yes, he is the only deaf kid auditioning for the musical.

In the morning I had fully intended to take pictures. I forgot. I was reminded when I logged into fancebook and saw the parade of my friend's kids. Surely they do this to taunt me. I figure I can take an after school picture.

I pick up my daughter who jumps in the car sans cool jacket she got for school.

Me, "Where is your jacket?"
Her, "I loaned it to Sara because she was cold"

My daughter is really nice but we need that jacket back.

She loves her teacher and her best buddy is in her class. All is good.

We then go to my son's school to give him a snack before his audition. I was so busy dealing with the helicopter duties of being the mother of a deaf kid I didn't have time to prepare a healthy meal for him. We end up at Dairy Queen. I will do better on the second day of school.

It is then he tells me a funny story. There are a bunch of new nervous sixth graders at school. All of the staff and returning students know my son, it is a small school with grades 6-12 and he is the only deaf kid. They are used to him and he is an equal part of the community.

He is in the hall with his interpreter. A girl walks up thinking the interpreter is staff.

"Excuse me where is the girls bathroom?"

The interpreter does her job and interprets. The girl has a strange expression. It is the interpreter's first day and she doesn't know where to direct the girl. She apologizes and interprets her response. My son knows where the bathroom is and with two B hand-shapes held parallel shows her. Imagine the guy on the street crew directing traffic. The girl looks at him like he is crazy.

This first day went fine. It is Saturday and the kids are relaxing. My son had his third callback for the musical this morning, yes a musical. I never got my pictures. The best I can do is described what they looked like.

My daughter did her own hair. Her outfit resembled John Lennon's costume in "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". Today is Saturday and we still don't have the jacket.

My son wore a Beattles shirt, purple jeans and purple shoes. His haircut was a hot topic. He didn't want a jacket, "not my style" so therefore he came home with all of his clothes.

Next week we will be a well oiled machine.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Advice From A Bad Parent

Do you ever do stuff as a parent you regret? I do. Sometimes I use the battle cry of " pick your battles" as an excuse to give myself room to take a break.

Tip- Don't let your kids sign things in public that you wouldn't let them say with their voices.

We were on the train yesterday. I was tired and wanted to read my book. I was getting to the good part. I spent the weekend monitoring, directing, comforting and watching out for a seven year old sleep walker. I needed a break. In the background I was vaguely aware of the polite discourse that happens among strangers trapped in close quarters. The polite getting to know you type of stuff I didn't have energy for.

My kids sat across from me giggling and being for the most part manageable. We were a silent tribe of three. Folks wouldn't dare to inquire about our trip because our hands fly with no sound. Membership has it's privileges. I looked up and saw my kids were talking about farts. Nice. Normally I would tell them to stop. I would tell them that was bad manners. Not this time. I pretended I didn't see it.

I payed the price. Ten minutes later my hearing daughter proclaims," I just farted" with enough volume to alert the entire car. I noticed the dead silence that followed as rows 3, 4 and 5 turned to investigate the source. I couldn't see the others so who knows how many folks were startled.

Lesson learned. Only take breaks in the privacy of your own home. Teach your children well and never sign something in public you wouldn't say out loud.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sure My Son, You Can Join The Circus

A couple of thoughts come to mind today. My world right now is focused on my mother's dementia. Her life has become a job for me. I am learning more about the human brain than I ever wanted too. I am fighting insurance companies and looking for answers. Everyone has a different opinion. Sound familiar?

So I got to thinking. What happens to my son if this happens? Just a thought.

Another thing we are thinking about here is Cirque De Soliel. There is a new Deaf cast member on the Alegria tour ( . Cool. My son begged me to get tickets. I found the money. We bought them. Turns out this cast member is not working until after they leave our radius of travel. Oh well, we will go and enjoy the show. My son will go and be inspired.

My son wants to join Cirque. His passion is a driving force for our seeing the show every time we can. The fact that a Deaf cast member is on tour sends him hope. He has researched and found out the benefits are great. He has rented all the shows on DVD that we don't already own or haven't seen live.

He is also shocked I support this dream,

" Most moms fear their kids will run away to the circus and you support it?"

Yea, I do,

I support both of my kid's dreams

I believe they can accomplish anything

I know their goals will change, I wanted to be an Opera singer, costume designer and veterinarian. I became a costumer for film and television, pretty close.

My only rule is they don't work for money until they are old enough. I will help them find classes, support their dreams and listen to their disappointments. I will attend their games, shows and recitals.

If they end up working in a field far from their dreams I hope they have the tools to bring the dream into their adult lives at least as a hobby. I hope they learned skills that will help them in their new lives as adults. My son's acting is giving him confidence and public speaking skills. His auditions give him the power to interview for a job with meaning. The fact that my son is Deaf has no real point. He can do anything but hear.