Erin's Teacher of the Deaf visited her classroom for the first time on Wednesday. We were so eager to hear what she thought of how Erin is doing.
She has set up a notebook to keep in Erin's cubby for us to communicate back and forth. I couldn't wait to read what she wrote on the first day. We were very sure that she would rave about how amazingly well Erin is doing. After all, she is pretty much completely caught up on language. She is able to answer age appropriate questions. She loves to tell us goofy stories. She loves to sing nursery rhymes. She can imitate any word we throw at her - even when she doesn't understand it's meaning.
Well.... We were a little shocked to find that the TOD spotted some areas of concern.
During circle time, Erin bobbed her head and smiled during a familiar song, but she didn't sing along. Check -
When circle time broke up and it was time for lunch, Erin quickly followed familiar commands from the teacher. She got her lunch, found her seat, etc. Check +
When the teacher gave commands that were not familiar to Erin, she looked confused for a moment, and then watched her peers for guidance before following the direction. Big Check -
I know it seems minor, but it really stunned us. Even the teacher and the school director (who has followed her since she was an infant) had never picked up on the fact that Erin wasn't following the teachers' directions - she was following her peers. She's our smart cookie and totally fooled us.
So, we've had a reality check. This isn't going to be as easy as we thought it would!
I am very confident that Erin isn't hearing the teacher clearly. I don't feel it is a comprehension issue. She is able to follow new directions at home with no problem at all. The problem is being in the classroom setting. We've done so much in the AVT area, but now she needs to learn to listen in an entirely new way. Unless we plan to hire a private tutor to get her through the K - 12 years (not gonna happen), she needs to adapt to a classroom setting.
The TOD will make three more visits and then we'll meet to talk about what we need to do to help Erin in this area. I am not 100% sold on an FM system just yet. It is a play based curriculum and I have a concern that Erin's teacher will be in one activity area working with a group of children and Erin will be in another activity area, picking up that conversation on the FM system. Not a good situation.
In her current school, the FM system may not be useful until the Pre-K level.
Another reason we have been wanting to hold off is that we've heard that Cochlear is getting ready to launch new FM Hardware for the Freedom system. I would much rather she get a new system for her specific CI than get an older model she might have to use through high school. It is tough to get upgrades once a system is in place.
But, we're keeping an open mind on the matter and will see what the TOD recommends.
We're thrilled to have such a competent set of eyes on Erin's progress in school. She is growing up so fast! She loves her new classroom and is so proud of herself. I can't wait to see what else this year brings.