As Back to School is just around the corner for most, some even started already!, the topic of IEP may be creeping into your mind or conversations. To start, what is an IEP?
An IEP is an individualized education plan for YOUR child-each child first has to be tested and qualify for a disability according to state standards. Then the child has to also qualify by state standards for needing special education . If they do, a team of parents and school staff will create a plan for the child. Many people think that there is a negative stigma attached to an IEP and often turn it down out of pride. Others fight hard for one, when their child does not have a need for one.
What is important is that as a parent, you voice your opinion, your concerns and why you think your child does or does not need one. School staff will help you navigate the ins and outs of the law and requirements to see if your child does need one. After the team (including parent ) decides if a student has a need for special ed, the IEP will be written.
The team will look at your child's strengths, areas of need and create goals to help your child succeed in school. Sometimes, it will be a goal related to hearing related equipment. Sometimes, it will be a goal related to language . Sometimes, it is a math or reading vocab goal. After the goals are created, then the service provider will be discussed. Some districts have Special Ed Teachers who teach academic skills to kids who have hearing loss and the Deaf/HH Teacher just works on hearing related topics and skills. Other districts, the Deaf/HH teacher does it all. Be sure that your child has a Deaf/HH teacher on the case if your child has any testing or an IEP. It is illegal for a district to say that they don't have one and your child does not need one. Deaf/HH Teachers have special training to work with your child and educate other staff who work with your child.
Do not speak/sign ill of an IEP around your child; they will catch the negative vibe and then be embarrassed. There is nothing to be embarrassed by. Think of an IEP as a tool to help get your child accommodations and modifications they need. If your child needed crutches or a wheelchair, you would not say," Nah, that is too extra, they should just try harder to walk." Use the tools provided in order to help your child see that they can be successful. Deaf and hard of hearing children can do anything that hearing children can do. If you have any questions about IEPs or your child's IEP in specific, please feel free to email email@example.com. Cheers to a personalized and positive IEP for your kid!!
Summer has been rolling along for a good month now. Kids have had time to decompress from school, shake off the cold and get into the sun. Some kids have camp, others have swim lessons, others have horseback riding lessons and others are just at home. Regardless of what they are doing, kids with hearing loss may encounter more barriers than kids who are hearing. Each situation is different, as each child communicates differently , has a different hearing loss and uses or does not use hearing assistive devices.
Please remember that when children take off their hearing assistive devices (cochlear implants, hearing aids, BAHA,etc), their hearing is diminished. They may not have the ability to hear all of what you are saying, understand all you say, hear and understand well in noise , or even localize sound . Here are some gentle reminders of how to accommodate and include your kids in conversation and language this summer.
1. If you and your family use ASL as your primary or secondary language, that is very helpful, as kids can see your signs from far away, vs understand spoken language from far away.
2. Use some sort of visual /gesture predetermined signals , especially at a pool or in a busy and noisy environment. I have had parents tell me their kids do not come in from the park/pool etc when they are called, despite the parents having a visual cue. However, in reality, the kids are not clear on the cue and may not know it means "5 min warning," or "Time to come in."
3. Do not say, "Never mind" or "It is not important" if your child asks what you or someone around them said. If it was important enough for someone to say, then it is important enough for your child to understand. Repeat it, rephrase it, act it out, sign it-whatever it takes .
4. Be sure to explain rules and plans for the day while the child is near you and is able to understand you fully. It is setting up a situation for disaster if you explain rules on the pool deck or in the middle of a noisy zoo.
5. ASK your child what fun activities they like to do , where they feel most included and are most comfortable with their hearing loss. Summer is a time for some kids to relax and not have to focus so hard on their listening skills 24/7, so they may prefer swimming or an art activity, where there is not a lot of language and listening needed.
I hope you continue to have a wonderful summer. As always, reach out if you have questions or concerns.
Whelp... that's a wrap! I am an officially RETIRED Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher.. I honestly have not been able to wrap my head around this yet, as I am used to having summers off. I am used to not getting up on a Monday in the middle of June... I think it will hit me more when fall comes around and the school supplies start showing up in Target-ok,let's be real..they will start showing up mid July!
I wanted to take a moment and say THANK YOU to all the parents, teachers, administrators, paras, secretaries, custodial staff, nurses, food staff , special ed staff and students who have crossed my path in the last 30 years. To say this has been an easy ride would be lying..but to say it has been anything but beautiful would also be lying. I have LOVED working with kids who have hearing loss. I love showing them that they CAN do anything they want in life. I love teaching staff that these kids CAN do things, but rather that the staff needs to adjust how they teach. I am obsessed with American Sign Language and hope to find many ways to continue to use it in my life moving forward. I am literally moving to AZ in the next few months, so I will be searching out a new Deaf community to join-as outgoing as I may seem, I am VERY shy at first. So, if you are in AZ , please reach out and welcome me so I can get past the shyness!!
There have been the ever lasting debates around Deaf community, deaf as in a medical view, Hearing Impaired vs hearing loss vs hard of hearing ... Speaking vs signing... ASL vs PSE... I am NOT someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing ,so I can not fully speak on the topic-but what I will say, is in all my years, I know that if your child is surrounded by good hearted, open minded people, your child will get the support s/he needs to be successful. As a parent, go into school and communication with open minds, knowing that there is not one right or wrong answer and that you CAN change your child's school placement or mode of communication or language. I have regretted a lot of things when it has come to my own kids and they have actually taught me that we can't look back-just look forward and make changes when we learn more.
I am going to continue this blog hopefully more regularly and definitely keep up the 2 Forever Friends site on Facebook. My books are here-I am looking forward to doing virtual and in person book talks and book signings and am here to be an advocate for you and your child at school IEPS. I am just an email away.
Take time this summer to RELAX, PlAY and ENJOY your kids!I know I did !! Thanks for sharing your kids with me. -Mrs. Schley, MEd
Retired Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher
Allison Schley is a teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children. She took her passion for kids with hearing loss and became an author. She wants all children with hearing loss to know they are amazing and that hearing loss will not keep them from following their dreams.