This time last year SJ had just graduated from her deaf school. Her graduation was one of the greatest moments of my life for sure, but followed by a little anxiety and trepidation about what was next. Her whole life SJ had been in an environment that catered to her needs as a deaf child and she was about to be going to a school that was built for hearing children. This is one of the reasons we chose to have her repeat second grade at her new school.
I have had a lot of people ask how her transition went and what the first year was like, so here is a recap of life since graduation for SJ.
For starters, she got her first cochlear implant upgrade, the Nucleus 7, which has been AWESOME. I really can’t think of a big enough word to describe what these new devices are like for her. To think if they improved her cochlear implant processors this much in 5 years what will they be like when she is in high school?! As much as it is an added burden for her compared to hearing kids and it’s always a little scary to have a bionic anything on your body, it is also such a blessing. I am so grateful for her sound processors and the tracking device on the iPhone has come in handy!
She also had her 6th hearing anniversary!
The little film that she was a part was released on International Women’s Day and she did a great job.
Her first field trip at her new school was a success. She was so excited, she had an extensive checklist leading up to the big day.
Looking back I am moved to tears as I read the words I had typed out last year when I was anxiously awaiting her first year at a mainstream school:
“She will experience recess on a big outdoor playground. She will hold a lunch tray for the first time. She’ll begin reading chapter books and walking the same halls as her brothers and hearing announcements on an intercom. She’ll learn to use an FM system so that she can hear her teacher. She’ll learn to adapt and be an advocate for herself.”
and now she has done all of those things! She is crushing it and my heart could soar. She definitely knows how to navigate her own equipment. She made this little tutorial for pairing the mini mic with her devices.
She won an award for star student one month and got free Chick-fil-a for lunch! She loves reading chapter books now which was never the case before.
Were there days she struggled? Sure. She’s had a great year though and I owe an enormous thank you to her team at her public school. Not only did they support J and I and walk us through the process when we chose for her to repeat 2nd grade, but they went above and beyond to meet all of SJ’s needs as a deaf student. I hear horror stories all of the time about IEP meetings and schools not being able to accommodate the needs of disabled students but my experience has been the opposite!
At each meeting they addressed every little concern that we might have and at first this was hearing at recess and lunch when it’s loud. They recommended we have her audiologist adjust her implants to allow her to change the settings depending on the environment (which we did). They also said the intervention specialist might need her own mic instead of just having her teacher wear one (and they had it for her in no time). They also got a “Pass Mic” because the students at each table work together and discuss things often. This allowed the students to talk into a microphone so that SJ could hear them better with all the background noise. The list goes on. I love our school and I do not take it for granted.
On top of all that, SJ had a best friend at her deaf school who has a twin sister and she was in SJ’s class! This friend was even at SJ’s birthday party the year before so they knew each other and their relationship blossomed from there.
When we go to events at SJ’s old school the twins are there and when there parties and things at her new school the twins are there. It has been a wonderful bridge for SJ during this transition!
3rd grade is going to be a big jump but now I feel like she is totally ready. I have no regrets about any of our decisions. Cochlear implants, private school and therapy, summer school and an extra year of 2nd grade are all tools that have allowed her to speak, understand, and flourish.
This first year at mainstream school was an answer to prayer. To quote SJ’s journal “I had joy everywhere in my heart”. I can’t wait to see what is next for our shining star.