Tuesday, June 16

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I feel that as a hearing parent with a Deaf child we have so many choices to make that we have no idea how to make! We are constantly told do this or don't do that. Each choice that we have made has had pros and cons and people judging me for the choices that I ended up making. I try not to take it personal, but it's hard...most of the time I end up still second guessing myself and never feeling satisfied with the decision that I made.

I have seen other families go through this also. It is very disheartening and I don't feel like it is going to stop soon. I don't know if it is easier for Deaf parents of Deaf children, I guess since they have been down a path they knows what worked for them and what did not. I do not have any deafness in my family and did not know anyone who had experienced this journey.

Some of the decisions that we and/or other hearing parents have had to make...

1) CI or no CI
2) Mainstream or no mainstream
3) public school or Deaf school
4) Sign or no sign
5) SEE or ASL

Each of these decisions have serious counterparts and I often feel that hearing parents of Deaf children are not given credit for how many decisions we have to make concerning our child. I know since I have friends of other "special needs" children that their choices are more cut and dry. They make choices that are life and death a lot of times. None of the choices above are life and death for our children. Some will make life easier, but then you have to ask yourself - easier for who and why are you really making that decision?

The vision decisions that we have made with Rebecca have been much easier and much more accepted: white cane training, testing, vision training, etc. There is nothing controversial about these items - no one questions what is right for you child when they are going blind. This is what sets Deafness apart from other disabilities and why I have found the correct path for my daughter to be so difficult! When she gets out her white cane everyone knows that she can't see, when she puts on her hearing aids everyone knows that she can't hear, but when she puts on her CI it is different. All of a sudden, hearing people think that she's not Deaf anymore and some Deaf people think that she's not Deaf enough anymore! My daughter is fine with or without her CI and either way, she is still Deaf!! She is at camp for the next 2 weeks and did not take her CI with her - guess what, she's not less Deaf or more Deaf because she does or does not have it. What will happen is that people will be more accepting of her without it there. That saddens me to say, but it's true.

I have talked about how I feel about the CI several times on my blog and I am proud to say that my daughter is fine either way. She is not dependant on her CI. Some situations she prefers to hear the sounds, but is fine without it also. Her voice does not change when she has it on or off, her signing does not change - nothing about her changes!!

I wish the world was more accepting and understanding of the choices that we make for our Deaf children. It's not easy and sometimes I wish it was as easy to make those decisions as it is for my other child or for her vision impairment. I am trying to embrace the decisions that we make and accept them as the best for her, but I don't know how I will truly know what is right until she grows up and tells me for herself. Until then I pray that God will lead my every decision and that we are doing what is best for her and not for ourselves only.

Saturday, June 13

When Do We Start TSD?

Okay, so I am sitting my the dorms at TSD (Texas School for the Deaf) and wondering if this school may be a good fit for Rebecca. The choices that you make as a parent of a Deaf child are so HARD! Every decision we have had to make has had positives and negatives to it. This is no different. Austin is a long way from home!! This is a 5 hour drive from our house in our small town. Rebecca is like a different person when she is around other Deaf children and she just blossoms. I know that she would enjoy the school here. There is not a doubt in my mind that this school would not be a good fit for her, but is it a good fit for our family??

Rebecca has been a school which uses SEE for 2 years, TSD uses ASL. We have always exposed her to both, but used SEE primarily since her school uses SEE. I am trying to get my SEE certification. It would also alter the life of our other daughter who will be entering 5th grade. She has never had consistancy in her life before and our home and her school have been her rock. Moving would set her back again! I bring up moving because when Rebecca comes to school here, we will move here! I do not feel comfortable not knowing her friends or just leaving her days without seeing her or knowing who she is with (I know, I am a control freak!).

We are leaning towards waiting another year, then moving the girls when they both start middle school since they would be changing schools anyway. Maybe that would be an easier transistion. I believe that regional dayschools and mainstreamed school are great for exposure to the hearing world and has taught Rebecca a lot, but a Deaf school would give her such self-esteem and she could participate in so many activities. At her school, there are no Deaf teachers, no Deaf adults working there at all! Here, Deafness is all around you. She would have wonderful role models and feel confident that she could grow up and do whatever she wants! The Texas School for the Blind also works closely with TSD and she would receive great care from them as well as her vision declines.

So, my dilema is not whether or not to send Rebecca to TSD, it has become WHEN do I send Rebecca to TSD?? She has already stated that she wants to start here next year. I am not sure that is the best solution for the whole family. I think one more year will not harm Rebecca and we can gather our finances and prepare for the move to Austin next year. Anyone else gone through this??

Friday, June 5

Summer Has Arrived!!

Well, summer is finally here and the plans are coming alive with summer activities for our family. We will be in Austin most of June, then it is off to Oklahoma to grandmas. We are also going to Arkansas to look for diamonds and to San Antonio to get wet at Sea World. We also have camps intertwined with all of that!!

This is our 4th summer with kids in our home. One thing that I have learned is to keep the kiddos busy and looking forward to something. We have everything spaced out so that something happens every 2 to 3 weeks! We will also do things around here like Six Flags, nature museums, zoo, movies, etc.

Next Wednesday is our appointment at the Retina Foundation and Tuesday we have a representive coming from DARS to help us teach Rebecca how to do her chores more effectively. She will be visiting periodically thoughout the summer.

Both girls will be in 5th grade next year! It is almost impossible to believe, only one more year until Jr. High! Scary!!

Rebecca almost passed her TAKS test (standardized testing in Texas) and is only short a little bit in her reading. So, in our spare time (yeah, right), we will be working on reading with her to help her be able to ace it next year.

Jasmine had no meltdowns at the end of the year which was a great thing! She handled her end of year anxieties much better this year.