Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chance starts school...

Tomorrow Chance will begin school. It is the first time that he will be integrated into a regular classroom. I have noticed many emotions coming to the surface. We had our meeting with the teacher a few days ago. She has never worked with deaf children before but seems willing to learn. My one main concern is Chance catching and understanding what happens in class surrounded by 25 other kids. For instance, what if the teacher tells everyone that it is time to sit on the floor and all the kids start closing their books, shuffling in their chairs and making other noises and through all of this, the teacher keeps giving instructions? Chance will not hear what is going on. My biggest fear is that Chance will end up following the crowd, watching while the other kids get in line while he wonders where they are going. Or Chance will miss the one word in the sentence as the teacher writes on the board and doesn't understand what he is supposed to be doing as the other kids get out their pencils.

I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but the fact is, these things are likely to happen. I just hope such situations are the exception and not the rule. As a mom, it is so hard to watch your child struggle. When we went in to meet Chance's teacher, she took Chance over to a table in the opposite corner of where I was. She told Chance that they would play with a truck (which was sitting right there), but first they would talk. Chance missed the last part of that sentence so he joyfully bent down and started playing with the truck. Then the teacher told Chance that first they were going to the table. Chance looked confused. When Chance still did not go to the table, the teacher sternly told Chance that they were going to the table first. I saw the look of confusion pass over Chance's face as he wondered why the teacher looked like she expected him to do something, or why she had said he could play with the truck and now he was chastised for doing just that. Chance had heard play with the truck.

Later, the teacher told Chance to pick something. Chance is not familiar with the term 'pick'. He knows 'choose', but not 'pick'. I thought to myself, as I watched this interaction, "I need to work on vocabulary with Chance." But what vocabulary? I don't know what terms the teacher uses on a regular basis. And will the teacher catch on that maybe she needs try to again with Chance if he does not get it? Repeat the sentence, use different words, etc? Will it occur to her that maybe Chance does not understand one of the words she has said? I told the teacher that if Chance looked like he did not understand her, or if he did not respond to her, that he probably did not hear her. Will the teacher have patience with my little boy who really wants to please, but sometimes just does not hear things the first time? Or will she just think that he is being belligerent, or purposefully ignoring her?
I forgot to tell the teacher that Chance needed to be seated on the left side of the room so that his right implanted ear will be facing the chalkboard. Will the teacher think about this? I'll call and tell her tomorrow. I don't expect the class to revolve around Chance. But I earnestly pray that his teacher has patience, common sense, and most of all, an affection for my son so that she can tune in if Chance is not hearing things and gets lost. Yes, Chance is capable of this. The question is, will be be given the opportunity to do it in a way he understands.

Chance will have to work harder to hear than the other kids in his class and he will be following the cues of the other kids, especially at first. So I also pray that the other kids will accept Chance as a peer and that Chance will feel included. I am turning over my sweet little son to other people that I hope will care enough to work with him and see what a wonderful, bright little boy he is.

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