I cannot believe I haven't updated since March! There have been so many times I thought "This would make a great blog post..." since then. Yet, here I am... August. And no blog posts.
A quick update:
Erin turned 4 last month. Like so may CI Kiddos, she is doing amazingly well. She had an independent speech eval in March and tested at age level. We noted some issues on her receptive language, which was a surprise, since that was her strength in the beginning. Conversely, she tested at a 5 year old level in vocabulary. It was a bit of a lesson for us. We realized we had been spending far too much time focusing on expressive language and needed to pay more attention to her overall needs. We focused on the areas of concern and she quickly corrected the issues.
Erin starts her new school year in two weeks. She will be staying at the daycare center/school she has been at since she was 4 months old. The Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf that she worked with last year will be back and she is really looking forward to it, as am I.
Very early on, Dad to Toes and I made the decision to mainstream Erin. In fact, she was already in a mainstream daycare setting when she was diagnosed. Although we researched other options, we never saw a compelling reason to move her from where she was. And since she was doing so well, we planned (and plan) to continue on that path. We thought the decision to mainstream would be the biggest decision we would make outside of our communication methodology decision.
Well, the timing of her birthday has given us pause. Erin's birthday is in mid July... the cutoff for Kindergarten in our district is August 1. So, if we start Erin in Kindergarten at 5, she will be one of (if not *the*) youngest person in her class.
If not for her hearing impairment, I would likely be doing a "Phew!" move and would be thrilled that she made the cutoff. The concept of redshirting is a controversial one and I have done enough research to agree that it is not necessarily the best way to go. For "normal" kids.
But, as normal as Erin is, she will go into each academic year with larger challenges than her peers. As miraculous as CIs are, the reality is that she doesn't hear as clearly as her peers. The successful speech evals don't address the hearing deficit she will experience in the classrom. Mixing that with being on the young end of the class hits her with a double whammy. So, Dad to Toes and I are watching closely and evaluating how to proceed.
I am biased toward holding her back a year. I also have a mid July birthday. I never struggled academically, but I was definitely behind my peers socially. I can't help but think Erin will experience that same thing - but two-fold. The thought of her feeling socially out of place and adding in the complication of not being able to keep up with lunchroom chatter is heartbreaking.
Dad to Toes is biased toward starting her on time. He has a fall birthday. And he always felt awkwardly older than his peers from a social standpoint. He doesn't think we should sell her short and hold her back when we don't know yet how she will do.
We're both right.
We consulted Erin's TOD on the issue this past spring. She feels that it is far too early to make a decision. She said she often sees a huge leap in her students during the Pre-K year. So, we made the decision to send her into the preschool room with the kids who are scheduled to start Kindergarten in 2010. We realized that should we find she isn't keeping up with her peers and intervention doesn't correct the issue, it will be easier to hold her back a year than to convince the school to advance her a year.
So, here we are. Heading into Erin's final preschool year. We're currently in a transition period. Erin has caught up to her peers. She is a normal 4 year old. Yet, the challenges of the classroom and school setting looms. We're enjoying this period and feel so blessed to have the chance to deal with all the typical trials of caring for a 4 year old child.
Well, maybe "blessed" is too strong of a word... Because, Man! So far 4 has been a lot tougher than 3. There is nothing quite like dealing with bed-time pop outs with a child who can't hear you say "GET BACK TO BED!" ;-)
Postnote: To those who have emailed asking what our "ASL or Not to ASL" decision was... We are continuing with Erin's ASL education. She enjoys learning new signs as much as she enjoys learning new spoken words. We aren't making learning ASL the primary focus right now, but we are slowly incorporating it into our lives.