Monday, September 7, 2009

Back To The Bubble

Today was Owen's last day of summer vacation. He was up at 4:30 am. The early rising may or may not have been poop related.

A morning full of playground and shopping adventuring resulted in the coveted and elusive Double Nappage. Instead of taking this opportunity to sit and blog in peace and quiet, I chose to join the children.

Naps kick ass.

In the history of figurative ass kicking, I'm pretty sure that naps have kicked more figurative ass than anything else.

I fucking love naps.

The napping ended around supper time. Being the super ultra perfect Mommy that I am, I painstakingly prepared a wholesome, organic, and nutritionally balanced meal threw some chicken nuggets and tater tots at the kids, poured a glass of wine, and tackled the back to school packet that I've been neglecting for two weeks.

You know the deal, the emergency contact info, last physical, how to pay for lunch, blah blah blah.

But with the Deaf kid, comes extra paperwork, extra questions to answer:

Is your child Deaf?

Just how Deaf?

Well, where's his last hearing test?

And when did he see his ear doctor last?

Are you sure he's Deaf?

Have you tried sneaking up on him?

Does he talk funny?

What kind of hearing aids does he wear?

What is the make and model of his hearing aids?

Who was the manager on duty when his hearing aids were manufactured?

What was the phase of the moon during the time his hearing aids were manufactured?

So, you're absolutely sure he's Deaf?

Does he have any other medical problems we should be aware of?

36 pages and 3 glasses of wine later I'm done, and buzzed.

And now that the kids are tucked in, and I actually have the peace and quiet required for that well thought out post about sending him back to school I'd been planning, I'm not sure I can pull that shit off.

You see, I was going to take you way back, to the time when Owen's education was dangling precariously from the cliff. To the time when we were leaving the Early Intervention stage and getting him placed in pre-school.

We'd only seen one option for his schooling; the school that had been providing him with speech and language therapy from the time his hearing loss was diagnosed. The school which employed only Teachers of The Deaf, which was conducted in ASL, which would surround Owen with other Deaf kids and adults.

But the transition process required us to convince the public school in our town, that they could not meet his needs.

The culmination of this process was an in-home evaluation attended by:

SPED director from public school.
Speech Therapist from public school.
Occupational Therapist from public school.
Early Intervention lady who'd been assigned to Owen.
Speech Therapist from Deaf school.
Director of Deaf school.

I hated these evaluations, but I knew I had to play the game, so I grabbed Owen and assumed the position up under the microscope.

SPED lady tried to impress me with her description of the classroom which had tennis balls on the chair legs to reduce noise, and a teacher who knew "some sign".  She really pissed me off when she assumed Owen was going to the public school;

"When Owen starts school with us..."

When? When my ass.

"We are so excited for Owen, that he'll be able to go to school with his peers."

My fight response starts bubbling up;

"His peers are other. Deaf. kids."

I didn't have to fight the bitch though. Owen's speech therapist was ready to take her on. She had one simple question for the SPED director;

"What is the language of instruction for the Deaf children?"

*crickets chirping*

The SPED had nothing. I couldn't tell if she even understood the question. I wanted to laugh. She never even answered before the ST from the Deaf school piped up;

"Because the language of instruction at our school is ASL, which is what Owen is used to and which will ensure access to information without any barriers."

The meeting ended soon after that. Our IEP meeting was a week or so later, attended by all the same people, and the decision was easily made: Owen would be going to pre-school with Teachers of The Deaf, instructed in ASL, surrounded by other Deaf Kids and adults.


And he's been there ever since.

He starts first grade tomorrow. He can't wait.

Neither can I.

Not just because it gets him off my back (woot! by the way), but because he thrives when he is around his peeps. Being a typical kid has never been an option for Owen. Ever. If not for the hearing loss, he'd be the scarred up, tube fed, anxious freak, amongst all the typical ass holes kids.

I appreciate the hell out of his hearing loss. For now. It gives him a place to truly belong. A place where being different is the norm.

It's such a nice little bubble.

Of course, he will be exposed to the Hearing world more and more. But I know he will have the proper guidance to help him navigate that world.

He can mainstream if and when he is ready. He can stay with the Deaf kids, or go with the Hearing kids. He can use an FM system or an interpreter.

It's his bubble.

He loves it. I love it.

You'd keep your kid in a bubble if you could.

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