My son was doing well as he entered into the third grade. He was an accepted part of hisclass, school and community. Yes he was the only student with hearing loss but he could read lips and with his residual hearing amplified could hear some on the lower spectrum of sound frequency. The other children accepted him and he had friends. I can remember a story told to me by his first grade teacher regarding an incident where some fifth graders thought it would be funny to come up behind him and flip his hearing aids out of his ears. She said when they did he began to cry, but before she could intervene his entire class rallied around him and began yelling at the fifth graders driving them away and comforting my son. That is what full inclusion is about and what I wanted for my child.(http://www.floridainclusionnetwork.com/page265.aspx).
This new world of disability was different and did require my involvement to make sure my son participated in everything and wasn’t excluded because of his disability. At this point I had accepted the fact that my son would have a disability for the rest of his life. I listened to professionals tell me what to expect, such as my son would never learning to read beyond a third grade level.
I was asked if we wanted him to sign or to continue to focus speech as his primary mode of communication. His class instruction was reinforced with sign in a multi-modality approach, but looking ahead at real life beyond school I knew that speech would be needed.
I was aware of deaf culture and actually sent him to summer camp at the Florida School for the deaf and blind.( http://www.fsdb.k12.fl.us/) He was around children that only signed for two weeks and when he returned home expressed his preference for life in the hearing world using speech. Things seemed to be under control and I was coping with all my new roles as a father, primary caregiver, and dealing with the world of disability.
Entering into the third grade the focus becomes more on reading to learn and so many other language based skills that hearing loss impacts. When we received notice of the annual IEP meeting . (http://nichcy.org/schoolage/iep/meetings/scheduling) I was prepared to show up and listen to what I was told was in the best interest of my son. I’d shake my head in agreement and go home. Why would this meeting be any different than any of the others?
Little did I know what was in store for me and how this meeting would change my life more drastically than I could possibly imagine.