One of the blogs I visit on a fairly regular basis is Ka’lalau’s Korner, written by Carl Schroeder. The tag line on the blog says “Ka’lalau’s Korner invites you to embark on your journey into Carl Schroeder’s philosophy.” Mr. Schroeder is deaf and believes that ASL and ASL only is the language of the deaf. Mr. Schroeder’s world is black and white. Anything non-ASL is gray. However, with that said, I do pop over to his blog every so often, even though I usually leave not smiling. One of his recent blog entries left me more perturbed than usual. The title of that entry is “Deaf School Bus Versus Special Ed Schoolbus.”
In his blog entry, Mr. Schroeder says “While I don't claim to have experienced as a Spec Ed student, I can only speculate from what I've read about children with cochlear implants (CI) riding on the Spec Ed schoolbus. I was also a Deaf Education teacher in a public school system that received the pupils from Spec Ed buses.” He then goes on to “compare and contrast Deaf and Spec Ed schoolbuses”.
I take issue with many of the things on his list, but the first item in the list especially irked me. At the top of his compare and contrast list is:
1.Deaf schoolbuses are full of children who communicate with each other. Spec Ed schoolbuses are full of children who are so diversely handicapped they do not communicate with each other.
I would like to invite Mr. Schroeder to ride to and from school with Ashley one day and see if his opinion changes.
- The boy that smiles when Ashley is boarding her school bus is communicating with her.
- The child that slides over in his seat to make room for Ashley is communicating with her.
- The little girl who reaches over to touch Ashley’s arm is communicating with her.
- When Ashley takes off her winter hat and throws it at the bus driver, she is communicating.
- When the aide on the bus cradles Ashley’s head during one of her seizures, communication is taking place.
- When the child sitting next to Ashley touches her chin after she burps (to indicate she should say Excuse Me), that child is communicating.
- When Ashley picks up the hand of another little girl on the bus who is crying as the bus pulls away from her mother, Ashley is communicating.
- When the children wave to each other at their home drop off points, they are communicating with each other.
- When Ashley kisses the bus driver’s cheek at the end of her bus ride, the communication is quite clear.
So, Mr. Schroeder, there is gray in the world and in that gray is a beautiful form of communication. Ashley is working very hard to learn and use ASL, but even without the fluency she will one day reach, she communicates quite clearly all day long – as do the other children on the ‘special ed bus’ about which you wrote, though "diversely handicapped" they may be.