September 1, 2009

School Time!

It's a few days before the start of school and I'm in my annual back-to-school rush: restocking Hadley's backpack with hearing aid supplies; making copies of reports and articles to distribute to new staff; picking up brand new earmolds...if only it could be as easy as buying some new clothes and a few pencils

This is also the time for my annual angst over how much to share in advance with Hadley's teachers and new classmates. I have always maintained that teachers need to get to know Hadley first before I come flying in with audiograms and instructions on teaching HOH children. I don't want anyone to read about her and think about what limitations might exist; I'd much rather educate about how far she has come than have to convince anyone that we shouldn't expect the world from her. I have never started the school year by talking to her classmates about what her hearing aids do or answering their questions. That always felt like shining a spotlight on what makes her different instead of letting her flow in the mainstream. Instead, my focus has always been on making sure Hadley can answer questions on her own and can speak up for herself when necessary. So far, so good.

But, each year, some of my favorite parents in the AV world share what they do with their child's new classmates and I think, "Of course, that makes perfect sense! I should do this!". I know that there are some parents who see Hadley's hearing aids and immediately make assumptions (both positive and negative). I also know that there are loads of parents who only notice Hadley's hearing aids later on in the school year and are surprised that I had never said anything. Now that we are using a soundfield system in the classroom, there's an impact on the rest of the students in the classroom, so a part of me feels an obligation to speak up earlier in the year (I didn't think about this until last year at the school's open house, when I overheard a teacher explaining it to another parent who had asked why speakers were in the classroom).

The good news is that with every year, there are fewer people who are meeting Hadley for the first time (the benefit of living in a town where all the kids go to the same schools together from kindergarten on). But, first impressions linger (the downside of living in a town where all the kids go to the same schools together from kindergarten on!).

I've really been stuck on this...until I finally remembered that I could just ask Hadley what she thought. (It took me long enough!). She began to answer me, stopped for a moment, stood absolutely still for a few moments more, then responded, "Why don't we just wait until I see how many kids I know in my class, then I'll let you know."

So, that's what we're doing: waiting. And she'll let me know. Excellent!

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