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Parents Talk about School Choices

Read this page to hear what other parents say about choosing a school for their child.

Click on the links to read the stories below. After you read the stories, tell us your story. And come back soon. We'll be adding more quotes from parents!

Some of the names have been changed to protect the family's privacy:
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  • Davidís mom talks about changing schools as her 4-year-old's needs become clearer. He started out in a total communication school.
  • Christofer deHahn talks about his concerns as he works towards mainstreaming his two children who are deaf and have cochlear implants.
  • Willís mom talks about changing from a mainstream school to a Bi/Bi program when Will starts middle school.
  • Chrisís mom talks about how hard it is to decide whether or not to send Chris to a residential school.
  • Stephanie's mom talks about deciding where Stephanie should go to vocational school.
  • Josh's mom talks about deciding what college Josh should go to, and letting go.

Davidís mom talks about changing schools as her childís needs become clearer. He started out in a total communication school:
ďI noticed, or it started to become more apparent that in the Total Communication environment that David was in, in my opinion, he stood out. I wanted him to be able to model himself toward other children as well. Not that he couldnít; these children were equally as bright, but they did not speak like he could. And in the long run, I really started to feel pretty intensely that, my God, this will hold him back.

ďI needed to kind of shift gears a little bit and say we really need to pay attention to auditory training, which I did not think he was getting... I felt instinctively there is a piece missing. There is just something where we are not expecting him to listen as carefully because he can only sign or he can always somehow get his point across... As he got older, as the other children became more adept at signing, that communication method was much more prevalent than was speaking. So, that really was my concern."

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Christofer deHahn talks about his concerns as he works towards mainstreaming his two children who are deaf and have cochlear implants:
ďMy concerns with my school-aged kids are academic and social. The academic side isnít a major concern right now. However, when working towards mainstreaming, social issues come to play. What if you are the new kid at school, deaf, and donít get the jokes, donít understand the street language, and always have to have these things explained to you? Itís going to be hard to make friends that way. Isnít being deaf in the mainstream hard enough? These are the things I am concerned about as we work towards mainstreaming out kids.Ē

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Willís mom talks about changing from a mainstream school to a Bi/Bi program:
ďUp til now, Will was mainstreamed with an interpreter. He was only one of three deaf kids in the whole school, and the only one who was mainstreamed, so he was rather isolated. Some of the hearing children did learn to sign (especially the girls), but Will never formed any deep relationships with the kids there, even though he did make a lot of hearing friends. The teachers were eager to teach him, since most of them had never taught a deaf student before. The main problem was the interpreter. She was an adequate signer, but not as good a voicer. And if she was absent, Will often was sent to the library, or the teachers let other kids 'interpret' for Will. Or heíd have subs who were less-than-adequate...

"This year itís amazing how effortless communication is. All our issues in the mainstream were communication access; now that is not an issue at all. Every kid in the school can sign anything to him and all his teachers can sign fluently with him. All the kids are required to sign, even the hearing ones. The people who work in the lunch room, the bus drives, the office staff, the principal and the board are all fluent signers and most of them are deaf. Willís math teacher is male and deaf (I think itís so important for him to see deaf role models).Ē

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Chrisís mom talks about how hard it is to decide whether or not to send Chris to a residential school:
"As I sit and watch how much Chris is isolated from a group of yelling boys simply because he cannot communicate with them I wonder why I haven't noticed before. The fact that he has Down Syndrome probably doesn't matter at all. The kids want him to play with them and often invite him only to move on when he does not/cannot respond. sigh

I am once again questioning my choices for him in the past. He had enough hearing to learn to speak when I made the choice to aid him at only 3 mo. old and enroll him in an oral program. Now, at 8 yrs old, he barely has a language at all and sign language would have come so easily to him. Yes, he is picking is up now and rather quickly. I only wish that I could remember to use it all of the time. It is so hard because I am not fluent enough to use it in every conversation. I am still learning myself. He needs to be immersed in this language to really use it and I can't provide that for him. .... imagine that.. I have done everything I can to be a good mother to him and now it seems that I need to make a choice I said I would never make in order to immerse him in sign language so that he can be happy.

Of course, I know the residential school is the only place he can really get that. There are only 5 students in the local hoh program and I just don't like the school in general. The school for the deaf is only a 1 1/2 hr drive away. However, I just can't imagine making that choice. Not just because I need my oldest son, but because I don't know how he could get the same kind of care that a mother gives to her son.

I want to be the one to bathe him every night. He needs medicine and monitoring for allergies, sleep apnea, frequent ear and sinus infections. He needs love and kisses and hugs and games and someone to make sure he gets involved. He needs his teeth flossed and his hiney washed and he really cannot do those things for himself yet. How can I let someone care for him every night during the week and only see my son on Sat and Sun?? With his mental challenges, how can I know that he will not wander off or get up at night and not know where to go. Oh my God. I am terrified!

Yes, I can move my whole family to Baton Rouge. My husband and I can quit our jobs and my son start a new school. We can move away from family support..grandmas and grandpas and aunts and cousins. Will that be the best situation for my other 2 boys?

I am just plain scared... I can't stop thinking about it. Chris is in a great little class now (for past 3 wks) where the assistant can sign and she is working hard with him, but no one else knows any sign. He is picking up more language but hardly every uses it. The class seems fine for now, but I know that he would be happier with other kids that know sign language also."

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Stephanieís mom talks about deciding where Stephanie should go to vocational school:
"In high school, each time we reviewed Stephanie's IEP and found we had all the basics in place, we would add a few electives from different career areas.

Gradually, Stephanie's successful experience in drafting and sewing, her desire to work with people, and her love of dressing well and visiting high-fashion stores began to inspire her to pursue a career in fashion design. I had conferences with her teachers and was encouraged...They never gave any false hopes about Stephanie's new dream, but they never said she couldn't.

Stephanie and I realized that success in college would be an uphill battle that would require high self-esteem. I did not panic. She and I had gotten used to tackling obstacles as a team.

Stephanie enrolled in fashion design classes at the University of the District of Columbia. The school's director of special services assured us that Stephanie would have interpreters for all her classes. When Stephanie came home the first day, she was quite excited. She said the students were all friendly, professional, and serious about their majors... I'm convinced that Stephanie will find her place in the world of fashion design."

For more information about Stephanie and her mom, read Deaf Students and the School-to-Work Transition.

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Joshís mom talks about deciding where Josh should go to college:
"When Josh was 15, we began talking to him about getting a job after school. Josh was scared. He was frightened that, as a deaf person, he would not be able to function with other people...that not all hearing people would understand him.

Choosing a college became an identity issue - whether to go to an all deaf college, a college with an all deaf population on a hearing campus, a mainstreamed program within a large state university, or a major respected university with no, or few, deaf students.

Letting go. Now Josh lives 3,000 miles away from home. He goes to a state university with 200 deaf students and 28,000 hearing students. He loves the classes, the environment, the deaf center where his friends gather. He makes his own decisions about classes, about meals, about his girlfriend, about earning and spending money. He decides when and if to study, what to eat, and when and if to come back to the dorm at night. He is becoming his own person.

Just as now Josh must venture out into his life as his own person, a young adult who is also deaf, so must I now let go of my identity as the mother of a deaf child and venture out on my own... The reality of having a deaf adult in the family is a different feeling from having a deaf child in the family."

For more information about Josh and his mom, read Deaf Students and the School-to-Work Transition.

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