My son continued to progress and continued with therapies. Still no speech at home. He would cry if displeased but no real words. He was working with a speech therapist and had started producing some sounds. It wasn’t until he was almost three that they diagnosed his hearing loss. My child was hearing impaired. He was tested and fitted with hearing aids. (http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/hearingloss)
With the hearing aids speech now was developing rapidly. More meetings and more paperwork. I was told that he would no longer qualify for services under early intervention and that he would need to be evaluated for a Pre-K program by the public school system.(http://nichcy.org/babies/transition). I realized that no matter how hard I wished it, I was not going to be able to make it better. I wasn’t going to be able to fix this. I was talking with his teachers and therapists and pediatrician gathering all the information I could. I later learned that these are the stages of grief (http://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/the-stages-of-grief-in-learning-your-child-has-special-needs/). All parents experience them and it really wasn’t until I hit stage five of this cycle which is acceptance that I began to feel as a dad that there was a difference I could really make. I know knew what I was dealing with regarding my son’s disability and wanted more information.
The school continued to hold a meeting once a year and do periodic testing. (http://nichcy.org/schoolage/evaluation). More paperwork developed by a room of professionals and I continued to be intimidated, totally ignorant of the process and completely trusting in their decisions. (http://nichcy.org/schoolage/iep) I knew it was called an IEP but still just agreed with all I was told and totally missed the importance of this process and the impact that it had on my child’s education.
The information I was accessing focused more on my son’s disability and not on the educational process. I was learning about hearing loss and deaf culture. It was in his kindergarten year and through his teacher of the hearing impaired that I began to connect with some of the other families who had children with hearing loss. Deafness is a low instance disability and I learned that there were only a handful of children attending schools in Collier County at that time and none at the school my son attended. It wasn’t until much later that I really understood why and that it would change my life forever.