Friday, September 21, 2007

What's The Point?

Ashley is attending school today without a qualified one-to-one aide by her side. Although her IEP calls for the services of an aide who is “sufficiently proficient in sign and speech so as to provide a language role model”, today she is doing without that person. As my school district tells me, there are three other adults in the classroom – the teacher, who has no formal training in sign language, the classroom assistant, who has attended a two hour sign language training, and the instructional assistant assigned to another child in the room. That other instructional assistant does know some sign language, and might be able to meet the standard set forth in Ashley’s IEP. But how can she provide services to the child to whom she is assigned as well as to Ashley? Both Ashley and the other child have IEPs which call for a full school day of instructional assistant services.

When I asked this morning if a substitute was coming in to provide sign language services for Ashley today, I was told no. Ashley’s aide normally works with her from the start of the school day until 1.5 hours until school ends. Already that 1.5 hours concerned me. But today, Ashley will go the entire school day – 6.75 hours – without the support she needs and which is required by her IEP.

Ummm, so Ashley will be in the classroom, will not be able to hear anything that is being said, will not have anyone who can sign to her the lessons that are being taught, and will not have anyone who can understand what she is trying to say. I wonder what will happen if Ashley signs that she is sick or hurt? Who will understand that and offer assistance? How will Ashley benefit educationally from the day when no one is helping teach her? Will Ashley understand the point of even being in the classroom today? I’m not sure I do.

You can bet these issues will be discussed next week in the meeting which has finally been scheduled, the meeting I started asking for last August.