Difference in School

(Guest post by Geri Kochis – Geri blogs at EmilyAnn)

I recently attended an IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting for Emily who is in 3rd grade.  These meeting are held annually to go over her progress the past year, and develop goals for the next year.  The people who attend these meetings makeup the IEP team.  This team is tasked with making sure Emily receives a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) in the LEA (Least Restrictive Environment).

Emily is currently educated in a general education classroom and goes to a resource room for specially designed Math & Reading instruction.  The IEP team (minus me) think that Emily would be best served educationally in a segregated classroom at a different school.  Emily is not a behavior problem, she just needs additional instruction and is slower getting her work done.

Segregated classrooms are not the answer to kids that learn different.  Segregated classrooms are not going to teach the other 3rd grades that it is okay to be different.  Emily will also wonder what is wrong with her and why it is not okay to be different.

I know some schools do a good job of realizing that Different Iz Good, and I hope one day all schools will do the same.

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About Geri

My name is Geri; I am married and have 4 wonderful children. My family and I live in Boise, Idaho, and yes our football turf is really blue. My youngest daughter Emily is my inspiration for this blog. Emily was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome 18p- which effects 1:50,000 live-born infants. My blog at http://emilyanned.blogspot.com details how I feel about raising a child with special needs and how I navigate various systems to better my daughter’s future.

One thought on “Difference in School

  1. Geri,
    Your issues with trying to get Emily a FAPE sound very familiar…..It really does sound like you’re going through the exact same stuff my parents (and MANY parents of mainstreamed deaf and hard of hearing kids) went through 14 years ago. A really big insurmountable part of the problem with low incidence disabilties, is that generally a general education teacher is not well versed in teaching kids like us. Heck, even special ed teachers have no idea how to teach students like us. Have you looked into a Deaf education placement for Emily? You actually might be extremely surprised at the quality of Deaf Ed classrooms. I know countless number of parents of dhh kids who were in inclusive settings, and then transferred their kid to a dhh ed setting..They say they wish they’d started out their kids in deaf ed with ASL etc….the kids are learning content easily and don’t have to struggle to learn( think about it this way. Deaf ed treats visual processing as a strengh, and focuses on that as a strengh in dhh kids….imagine how you would feel if you had been educated solely by concentrating on a defiect rather then amleirating the defiect and working on a strengh) ….You don’t want Emily asking you as an adult ” Why didn’t I get to attend deaf classes? Why didn’t I get to know other deaf and hard of hearing kids? Why didn’t I get to learn Sign?” You say emily learns slower…..instruction in ASL could acclerate her learning, so her defiects aren’t that bad. She actually might prove to be smarter then everyone thinks with the right tools. (and just as an aside, Deaf ed/sign isn’t just for audilogically deaf kids…it can be an awesome tool/option for hard of hearing kids too!!!! Yes, emily would be in a seperate program….. but it would be a specialized program, that is designed specificly for her (and other dhh kids) to learn to the best of their abilties. we have English As A Second Language, we have gifted programs we have all sorts of programs….. please check out deaf ed and Sign for Emily……You do not want to look back 10 or 15 years from now and say ” I should have put her in a deaf ed program….look how enthralled she is with ASL and her dhh peers…….Look how WELL she is doing with ASL…..she’s learning actual content, and has a community, instead of always saying “What?” “What?” and being on the edges of the hearing world. Plus deaf ed is very experianced with kids with multiple mild issues as well…..keep an open mind.