Ok, the subject line of this post completely freaks me out. Where has time gone? Didn't I JUST have this kid?
Yesterday, we visited a very special preschool that we are considering for Christian. We visited almost all the classrooms, met with many of the educators, and had a unique opportunity to observe kiddos JUST LIKE Christian in a very special learning environment.
In a nutshell, this school is a not-for-profit day school that offers developmentally appropriate programs for infants, toddlers, preschool and elementary aged children WITH and WITHOUT hearing loss. 85% of the children at this school are typical hearing kids, while 15% have some degree of hearing loss. What is so special about this school, is that it offers and INCLUSION environment for kids with hearing loss. For the kids with hearing loss, they have an amazing opportunity to be with their peers, who serve as language models. They have a unique partnership with our CI Center.
Chuck and I were SO impressed with the level of attention that the children with hearing loss received from the teachers. Each class has two teachers, one educator and one SLP. The classes are small, and the D/HOH kids get direct one-on-one support from the SLPs, all the while being fully integrated into the classroom. We observed several instances where the D/HOH kid needed a bit more instruction during an activity, and the SLP was RIGHT THERE assisting them. WOW.
The classrooms were literally bursting with language opportunities. And the school was designed for D/HOH kids--there are acoustic panels all over the place, sound fields in all the classrooms, and even the preschool rooms were carpeted. This place was MADE for my kid.
The school also has a FULL audiology suite, complete with a sound booth and a full-time audiologist on staff. The audiologist on staff was previously employed at Hopkins, and they are equipped to handle any and ever audiological need that we would have. Again, this place was MADE for my kid.
We are trying to keep an open mind with all of this. Our public school system here in our county has a good program, however it is a completely different approach, and we can't even compare the two. The county program segregates the D/HOH kids from the typical hearing kids. This does work for some kids. However, as Christian grows, and as his personality blossoms, we are learning that he is a very social little guy, and he absolutely benefits from the social situations around typical hearing kids. He so desperately wants to talk. I am having a hard time seeing him in a classroom without strong language models that are his peers.
So, what's the downside? Well, it all goes back to money. How are we going to come up with the money to do this for Christian? We are applying for financial aid. And, should we chose to go with this program, WE WILL MAKE IT WORK.