Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Could have, Should Have, Next Time I'll Get an Interpreter

My oldest is about to start kindergarten this fall. Since we live in the hills and hollows of the West Virginian Appalachian mountains, people are spread out far and wide. Some of these people are intentionally hiding, on the verge of becoming hermits, and others just dont want you to see their naked selves prancing around in front of the living room window. Back to my point...Because people are spread far and wide, the school systems have a hard time finding all the 5 year olds or soon-to-be 5 year olds to begin school, so they start their hunt early. As in last year early. We answered a letter saying yes, we have a young child that is ready to start school around October. Then in Febuary, we got a notice in the mail to attend a screening for all children who are 5 or soon-to-be 5, and if we knew of any other 5 year olds, to please pass on the info. I have yet to meet the people that live across the street and you're asking me to pass on the info? hmm..

Hubby called and set up the appointment for my soon-to-be 5 year old and it went something like this: We arrive at the front secretary's office where she then leads us down a maze of halls to the school library. There, they grab my child and sit her down at a little table, and me being Deaf, I wanted to be by her side so I knew what they were doing to my child, but no, another lady tells me to go over there, and points at a table with other mothers filling out forms. Feeling torn, I force myself to go over and fill out a simple questionaire about address, medical history, birth certificate and the like. I glance back at my soon-to-be 5 year old and they have moved her over to a table where other children are playing with play-doh. Here comes another lady and she takes my child by the hand to another table and they examine her teeth and I see her mouth moving, but am unable to lip-read from a distance of 20 yards or so. Then she hands over a toothbrush and sends her to yet another lady who then takes her out of sight. I start to follow, but I am stopped and asked to sit down and wait.

The whole procedure was very frustrating to me and I watched parents (mostly moms) come and go and chatter cheerfully with the ladies that are inspecting all the 5 or soon-to-be 5 year olds. I wished Hubby was with me, but he was at work and unable to get the day off. I felt like I was cast aside as if I was not important and left to wait for my child. I watched how after the children returned from wherever they took them, one of the ladies would match child with parent and then sit down in an office and what looked to me, like they reviewed their findings. All of the reviews seemed to take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Finally, after what seems like eternity, here comes mine, and my middle child is elated to see her appear! She runs to her and gives her a hug and it's all I can do not to run myself.

I prepare to sit down with a lady and review the findings and when she spots me as the mother of my child,she waves me over to a small table. She starts talking and I stop her to tell her that I am Deaf and to please slow down, look at me when she talks and point to which section of the paper she is talking about. Turns out, the paper is a progress chart and they ask each child to perform different tasks and a panel of teachers/speech therapists/counselors rate the childs capabilities-- 3-4 year level, 5-6 year level, 7-9 year level, and 10-beyond. This lady that has sat down with me went through each task and said, "good, good, good, needs work, good, good, she only knows her abc's up to 'k', good, very good, she can hop, jump, but she needs to know how to skip, good, good. Thank you and see you in the fall." Whoa whoa... what happened to the average 20 minutes the other ladies spent with the other moms??? I am half pissed and half anxious to get out of there, tired of feeling like I am at a cattle round-up.

Arriving home, my mind was ticking over everything that happened on the way back, and I was bursting at the seams by the time Hubby came home from work. I wished I had thought to ask for an interpreter to be there. I wished Hubby was there. I wondered if she was so quick with me because I was Deaf and she was uncomfortable with me? I wondered if my child did so well, that there was nothing to talk about? Too many unanswered questions. Would it have been different if I was hearing? I'll never know.


GARRETT said...

Yeah, I wonder... Love reading yours.


Krissie said...

Well, my first thought was that your kid was good and there was nothing to talk about.
It's like my mom would go to school to talk to our teachers once a semester (it was required) and be done in 5 minutes. There's not much to say about a child that is doing well.

Karen Mayes said...

Hmmm... if they had computers, meaning they'd likely have an access to internet/email account, ask for it and you could start communicating with them by emails. Better than nothing...

mishkazena said...

You can call and request for a meeting, this time with an interpreter, so they will review this with ou in depth.

Lindystar said...

That would be pretty lame of them if they gave you less attention just because their freaked out that you can't hear.

I used to work with a man that is deaf, and people would avoid him like the plague. We got to be great friends after I got over my OWN fear of him not understanding me or vice versa, and he taught me a lot.

I went to school for a while to become an interpreter (until I realized I'm only smart enough to talk to deaf friends and not for REAL interpret)

So long story short I have a TEENY TINY ITSY BITSY idea of how much it sux for you sometimes, and I'm sorry that people can be so lame.

But hey maybe your kid is just smart as hell like krissie said. :)

jenny said...

I like to think that it was so quick because my child was good at all her tasks. I tend to look at the glass half-full, but I still wonder... The screening took place at a different school-- they sent half of the county to one school for screening and other half to another school. The actual school my kid will go to is a much smaller place, with about 150-200 students.

Thanks to all for reading my posts and for your comments and suggestions. I like the 'communicating by email' idea, and will ask about that once school starts. I have to remember to ask for an interpreter next time, when there is some sort of meeting.

lady macleod said...

Sounds bloody frustrating. My guess is it was a bit of both (you not hearing/regular ole bureaucracy). I recall similar situations where I had just those feelings when my baby was under ten. None of us enjoy feeling not in control when the situation involves our children. I agree with the e-mail suggestion, good one.

Just keep breathing in and out. :-)

Lantana said...

I think all the comments here are very helpful and supportive.

I know for a fact that childcare professionals are often unfeeling and perform like robots, forgetting to acknowledge someone like you who is scared to death and concerned for her child.

In the future, I would make darned sure that the school understands the situation and they should let you know beforehand that there will be someone to assist you and make you feel comfortable. (Deaf tax dollars are just as good as Hearing tax dollars).

When my 2nd child started "0" grade, I was lucky enough to have another deaf mother with a child in the same class!