Part 10 of the ongoing series, "So You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child?"
This blogpost is shared by Elizabeth Albers.
We were told our son was profoundly deaf but that he wore hearing aids and could hear and talk. Hoping that he could hear with hearing aids we learned little sign language before we brought him home. Other than that we had no experience with ASL or deafness. We brought our little boy (5 years old) home July 2014. After spending just a few hours with him we knew that his hearing aids weren't helping him at all. We immediately started taking on-line ASL courses (while we were still in China) and looking up any and every word we could on-line. Since bringing him home we've continued to learn ASL. He did get new hearing aids and they do bring him into a moderate to severe range which brings him some hearing and speech.
We have chosen to homeschool our son for many reasons. One being that we homeschool our 4 other children. Homeschooling a deaf child has been challenging, but we know that God prepared us for this little boy. While we haven't had much experience with deafness we have had many years of experience with homeschooling. We take it one day at a time and we introduce things as we feel he is ready. He's been home 6 months and he is thriving at the level of a K-1st grader. One of the hardest things about educating a deaf child at home is that it is somewhat new territory. There isn't a lot of curriculum or resources for homeschooling deaf children. We have to sort of figure out things as we go. We are part of an on-line community of homeschool deaf/HOH families. They have been invaluable to us. Always offering support, ideas and suggestions. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming being the only one in our community who is homeschooling a deaf child, and these on-line families help us to know we are not the only ones trying to do this.
We also utilize our public school for some extra services. After months and months of meetings and insisting that our son work with a Deaf Teacher, the school board has allowed my son and I to join in on a class a couple hours a week with a Deaf Teacher and one other little deaf boy. This has been an amazing opportunity for our son and it's so great to see him interacting with the other little boy. We also utilize speech therapy through the school system and have just started on-line AVT (Auditory Verbal Therapy) through CASTLE, UNC. It took a long 6 months to get services in place, but the fight was worth it.
We've also tried to help others in our community learn more about deafness and ASL by starting an ASL club. Note: Not to be confused with the original Deaf Clubs created within the Deaf Community. This has not been an easy task. It's hard trying to get people involved, but we are determined. We've also visited a deaf church (about 1.25 hours away) to get to know more people and learn more about how deaf people interact. We hope to attend more deaf events, but again this is difficult because there is no real deaf community. But we keep going and trying and doing our best with what we have. We have a desire to give our son the best of both worlds.
Overall we have had a great experience educating our son. Some days it felt like we were the only ones homeschooling a deaf child, wondering if we were doing the right thing, but now that we are six months into this journey we feel so much more confident in our choices and our ability to teach our son.