Saturday, April 25, 2015

Change of Plans

I wouldn't exactly call myself a planner.  If a friend says, "Hey let's get together tomorrow," I say OK! and wait to see how it all unfolds.  But if I mention said conversation to my husband, he drills me with a dozen questions.  "Where? When? What food is involved?  How can you make plans and not know any of this stuff???" And he keeps asking until I have answers.  Kind of drives me crazy. Drives him crazy, too. :)
But for the last 2+ months I've had a plan for James.  That plan included him attending Western PA School for the Deaf for a half day, finishing out this school year and ESY in preschool and then moving to kindergarten in the fall.  When I informed the school district that this was what I wanted, they were less than enthusiastic and very slow to get the ball rolling.  I'll not bore you with all the details of the inefficient process used to place kids with special needs, but suffice it to say that it's quite aggravating when you are watching the school year tick away and nothing seems to be happening.  Everything was settled on the WPSD end of things, and James asked almost daily if he was going to school.  Fast forward to this week.  I (finally) had my meeting with the "team" of people involved in determining James's placement on Monday.  They read the eval report to me (that I had already read 3 times myself) and then asked what I thought.  I told them what I wanted and why.  I had my nice list of things just to make sure I didn't forget something if I got upset.  Then they asked why I hadn't considered the other deaf school in our area, DePaul.  I explained, again, why I wanted him at WPSD.  NOT DePaul.  (The main difference between the two schools is that WPSD is ASL based, but supports kids with hearing aids and implants with spoken language and speech therapy, while DePaul is an all oral school.  There is no sign language happening in that school.  They teach kids to utilize HAs and CIs and to speak to the best of their ability.)  Then they proceeded to tell me that they were recommending he attend DePaul.  And was I willing to go and visit, and would I like them to set up a tour, and would I like one of them to go with me???  Um,  no thanks, I'm a big girl and I can go by myself.  Anyway… I agreed to go, figuring that if I was cooperative with what they wanted, when I came back and said I still wanted him at WPSD they would be more likely to listen.  So I went home and set up a tour for Thursday.
Here's where things went awry.  We went to DePaul.  The school that doesn't sign.  And we decided to give it a try.  (Insert slight freak out here!)  My other children strongly objected to this sudden change of mind. "But he needs sign!" Said the child who signs the least out of everyone in the house.  "But you said he's never going to this school!" and "I never change my mind."  (Oh, don't I know that!)  But here's the thing.  We will still sign.  No one is taking that away from James.  But signing is a skill he can learn just as easily in a few years (or in one year, if this doesn't work out) as he can now.  Listening and speaking, that's a different story.  Yes, WPSD would give him spoken language along with sign language.  But that means he can ignore the spoken language if he chooses, since that would be the easier route.  DePaul is focused and intensive spoken language and speech.  And the class size is so small, he will be getting a lot of one-on-one instruction.  And their main goal is to catch kids up to their hearing peers so that they can be mainstreamed.  I would simply homeschool James full time at that point, but that's beside the point.  The point is, we implanted James for a reason.  Well, for several reasons.  But to not try this approach at this point seems counterproductive to our main reason and our  goal of him becoming oral.  And if it doesn't work out, if he's unhappy and not thriving, we will change plans again.
I hope this doesn't sound like I'm trying to defend my choice; I'm not.  Just explaining where we are coming from, because many of you know how adamant I have been about him attending WPSD.  And before that I was adamant that he would stay home and homeschool.  It's funny how God works, though.  To end my story, remember that I asked for James to attend WPSD at his kindergarten transition meeting in early February.  Here it is, the end of April.  I went to DePaul two days ago.  We have his IEP meeting on Wednesday and he could possibly start at DePaul Thursday or Friday!  So the moral of the story is, don't hold too tightly to your plans, however perfect you think they are.  And if things aren't going according to that plan, maybe God really does have something else in store!

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