Triplet Princes and a Princess

Triplet Princes and a Princess

Our journey to hearing with Cormac while living our life with triplet boys and a baby girl.







Thursday, January 8, 2009

The IEP Process begins

For those that are not aware and IEP is an individual education program. Cormac will need an IEP to attend school. Up until his third birthday he receives services through early intervention. I love early intervention. He has been receiving services since we found out he was deaf. For longer than I can remember he has received two hours a week at home with a Teacher of the Deaf, Joan. I also bring him one day a week to Summit Speech School for a group class. Why this all has to change at the young age of three is beyond me but I don't get to make those decisions.

At three years old the child is now handled by your local school district. Our local school district set up our identification meeting. This meeting is to determine if Cormac is eligible for services. He qualifies because he is deaf so that was not an issue. Next we have to discuss his education needs. This is where it gets tricky. Our district has never had a deaf child let alone a child with bilateral cochlear implants. They have no one in district has EVER worked with a child with cochlear implants. The speech therapist is a nice lady but has no direct experience with deaf children. Working with children with speech delay and a deaf child are two different things. Most people do not understand.

The only program in town is preschool disabled. This class contains all children of all disabilities. This is so not where Cormac belongs. He is not academically delayed or cognitively delayed. His fine and gross motor skills are perfect. I don't know many other two year olds that can write their letters. His only delay is in his expressive language and he is not really far behind. But his delay comes from not hearing for the first 13 months of life NOT from any other issue.

Cormac should be in a mainstream preschool along with his brothers and get support services. I am not sure how we are going to accomplish this task. But we will. I have been dreading this process for a long time. With a district with no experience at all I am hoping it can be a learning process for both sides. We can help them to learn what a deaf child with implants needs. Every child is different but at least int he future they would have some experience.

I have spent hours researching and seeking information to show the district what is in Cormac's best interest. There are lots of laws that protect him and I am familiar with them all. I will make sure to have copies of them with me when they make a recommendation of preschool disabled and prove to them this is not the least restrictive environment. Luckily, NYU has an education specialist and she is willing to come and talk with the district. I am hoping her expertise will be enough to make our case. All I want for Cormac is mainstream preschool with support services. Since they don't have qualified professionals for support services they need to contract with people who are qualified.

I knew it was not going to be a simple process. I was prepared for it but I did not think they would have no clue what so ever. Oh well, just another bridge to cross in our journey.

2 comments:

O said...

Jennifer,

I don't envy you, my son is now 15 and the IEP process can be long and arduous. I would suggest that you invite someone from the Summit Speech School to come to the IEP meeting and talk about what Cormac's needs are. This person should be fairly knowledgeable of where he is functioning with his receptive and expressive language as well as how listening with a cochlear implant (or two) is different from hearing kids. Cormac will probably do fine, but he will need some accommodations and the teacher will need to realise that she may need to repeat herself. She needs to learn to tell the difference between Cormac not understanding verbal commands and Cormac just being 3 and not paying attention. A sound field FM is always a good idea, this will raise the teacher's voice 5-10dB above the background noise in the classroom and EVERY child will benefit. I don't really advocate for FM's for little ones, as Cormac may not be able to report when the FM is not working properly (my son complains of dead spots and static and refuses to wear one in MS and HS, but had a sound field all thru Elem Sch and the whole class loved it).

If the classroom has a hard floor, tennis balls can be put on the legs of chairs to minimise noise. If the classroom is large and divided into different activity areas, sound absorbing partitions can be placed around the room to minimise sound traveling from one space to another.

There are lots of things a teacher can do to make sure Cormac has the same opportunities at listening as his brothers. One thing to be aware of: Is Cormac self-sufficient enough to speak up for himself, or do his brothers answer for him? I had a friend who had to put her twins in two different classrooms because her daughter always spoke for her son, and he never uttered a word. Just something to watch out for.

Best of luck, he will love pre-school!

OM

Melanie said...

I don't have anything too add to the previous post- just wanted to send words of encouragement! Bring as many "experts" as you can to the meeting and be prepared to fight for what you want.