Monday, September 14, 2009

Doing It Ourselves

When Ashley was in 3rd grade, I contracted with Dr. Harvey Mar from Columbia University to do an independent evaluation of Ashley. Dr. Mar is recognized as an expert in the field of educating children with deafblindness. Leading up to Dr. Mar's evaluation was my school district's evaluation which said Ashley was a visual and auditory learner (say what??), and then an independent evaluation by a psychologist of the school district's choosing. And all these evaluations were leading down the path to due process.

Both the school's psychologist and Dr. Mar pointed out how much Ashley loved working on computers, and both recommended that her curriculum be computer-based. Remember - this was in the 3rd grade.

4th and 5th grade passed by without a computer in sight. In middle school in our school district, every student is issued a laptop computer (assuming the parents pay a $50 insurance fee). Ashley's fee has been paid every year, and every year passes without any significant computer time for her.

Now she is in high school, and still she loves the computer - perhaps even more than ever. Still she has a school-issued laptop, and still there is no mention of a computer-based curriculum.

So, I have given up.

I will make sure that she has the computer-based curriculum she needs, a need recognized when she was just 8 years old. But I will do it at home.

Pictured is Ashley's new learning center. She has a computer which can have the fonts enlarged as much as she needs. She has Internet access to go to the web sites that interest her and that we need for 'homework'. And, even though she spends 7 hours a day at school, her real education will be coming after that and on the weekends at home.


Cheryl said...

You can't get them to just pay to send her to a school that would get her?

Ashley's Mom said...

Cheryl, with the economy having a major impact on all budgets, including school districts, its tough to get anything but a bare bones education these days....

My school district has been a leader in getting laptops for every student, but the only students who get real instruction on them are the regular ed students. And, with the budget, I wouldn't be surprised to see those cut also.

But as you said, the bottom line is they just don't 'get her'. Deafblindness is such a low-incidence disability that most educators never have a student like that. The good teachers will do their research and learn to understand. The not-so-good will just wait out the year until Ashley moves on. We've had a few good teachers but more not-so-good.

little.birdy said...

Wouldn't a computer-based curriculum be easier for them? I don't understand why this is difficult. Part of me wants to avoid this school system like the plague and part of me wants to seek them out and advocate until their ears bleed. (I'm about an hour away from Richmond and will be looking for an SLP job in a school system in VA next year.)

Ashley's Mom said...

Little Birdy, there are TONS of SLP jobs in our area, and even some in my school district. Come on down and I will be glad to help you make their ears bleed :)