A Different View: Mainstreaming and Inclusion

(Guest post by Torrie Bryant – Learn more about Torrie by visiting our Contributors Page)

Ever since the mid 1970’s there’s been a major debate over educational placement for kids with significant special educational needs in the US. Should kids, with disabilities attend specialized schools or should they attend specialized classes housed at a mainstream school, or should they attend grade level classes with various and sundry forms of accommodation? There are no easy answers. No kid is the same. What works well for one kid, may not work well for another kid. Yet, despite that fact, ever since the advent of the mainstreaming law the Ideal Educational Placement has been pushed as solitaire mainstreaming with accommodations from K-12 (with perhaps a few years spent in an Special Needs preschool). There really is little to no discussion about promoting a viable continuim of placement, ranging from a specialized school (which may or may not be residential) to a day school to a regional specialized program to a solitaire placement with accommodations. The focus is Inclusion/Mainstreaming As Much As Possible. Other placements are demonized as “segregated’ or the equalivant of sending a kid to Willowbrook State School. The unspoken attitude is that, with mainstreaming/inclusion the kid with a disability will not “suffer” from being “segregated” at a special needs school/program, and that they will be able to experience ALL the typical white picket fence experiences of childhood, if they attend an inclusion/mainstream educational setting. It sounds good, and there are some kids who actually thrive (meaning they may not even have social-emotional issues,common to many if not most special ed kids) in such a setting.

But overall the kids who thrive tend to be the type of kid who simply need some relatively mild accommodations, to access the curriculum. They tend to be the type of kid who probably would have succeeded in the mainstream even before mainstreaming became popular. That’s awesome for them, and it’s good that public schools cannot legally deny those students a place, as they could before the mainstreaming law.

Before mainstreaming it wasn’t that unusual for public schools (especially in rural or areas with not a lot of resources) to basically tell students with low incidence disabilities “ We can’t serve you. Go to the state Deaf or Blind (or other specialized) School”.

One thing that pro mainstream advocates (who hypothesize that mainstreaming/inclusion will mean a much better education) seem to completely miss is that there still is special ed in public schools. Simply sending a deaf or hard of hearing, or blind/low vision or kid with whatever low incidence disability to The Local Neighborhood School, doesn’t automatically mean that they will be able to access the curriculum. Most of the time all a neighborhood school can offer is a Resource Room type of education, with teachers who while they may be expert at educating kids with learning disabilties, ADD and other relatively high incidence conditions don’t have a whole lot of training in how to teach kids with lower incidence disabilities. In other words, public special ed tends to take a “one room schoolhouse” approach to educating kids with disabilities. So low incidence kids get lumped in with kids who are in the resource room/sped because it is a dumping ground. They may just get minimal accommodations. If they do not succeed with minimal accommodations, they’ll suffer and fall through the cracks majorly. I know of many horror stories. I know of a hard of hearing student who thinks she got a better education by being mainstreamed. Yet she cannot even write a coherent sentence, and constantly misunderstands what she reads. She never even got traditional resource room support, and as a matter of fact, did not even get support from a teacher of the deaf, until she was a junior in high school. Then I know of mainstreamed students with severe expressive language disorders who cannot even write something as simple as ‘The dog can run.”, without using proper syntax or grammar. If they had attended a school that had a specialized program for students with severe expressive language disorders, they might have done much better. I know of countless falling through the cracks b/c of inclusion horror stories. The unspoken attitude (in the mainstream) is that “Oh, just pass this kid along and they’ll just end up on disability.” Unfortunately, there are still severe low expectations in the mainstream. Even the kids who are smart but receive sped support or take a mix of sped/regular classes can deal with this attitude. I was the type of student who took not one but TWO foreign languages. Yet the unspoken attitude because I did not succeed with a minimal accommodations approach, was that I wasn’t even going to go to college. I can also remember being in a Honors Latin class. Let me repeat that. A Honors Latin class, and being asked if I was going to a special school after graduation?!?!?! Students with low incidence conditions,(ie hearing loss, sight loss and others) also do not have real access to well trained teachers, and often may be the only kid with their type of disability in their school, or even their entire school district.

As a matter of fact, a school district can legally give kids with disabilities a minimal accommodations eduction and still be said to be legally in the “safe zone” of giving a kid a FAPE. For example, a mainstream school could legally give a hard of hearing kid, the traditional minimal dhh (deaf and hard of hearing) triad of, speech therapy , FM device usage, and a note taker. (and if the district is REALLY generous a teacher of the Deaf, who usually just sees the student briefly. ). The kid would just have to be barely passing their classes (and in some cases might just be socially promoted) They would also be pulled out for things like speech therapy or Teacher of the Deaf time, or other specialized things (which in turn means that they would miss in-class time).

Whereas at a School or a program for the Deaf, the kid could take advantage of an all inclusive specially designed curriculum, built in specialized things (like speech therapy/auditory training/ additional tutoring in ASL) access to well trained teachers of the Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing peers, which would translate into a better social life, and thus better social-emotional development. (social issues are a MAJOR problem, among mainstreamed oral and signing kids alike. It is a perenial topic at the Clarke School for the Deaf’s Annual Mainstreaming conference). They could finally be the smart kids, instead of victims of educational neglect. Their parents would no longer have to fight clueless special ed administrators/teachers who scream and fight any out of the box suggestion as “ too expensive” or “ you’re trying to get a private school education out of a public school”. Imagine an IEP where there was little to no fuss about accommodations. Imagine a school where teachers were well trained in Deaf Ed, or Blind Ed, or intellectual disability education or whatever low incidence disability education. Instead of fifteen or twenty minutes of “supplemental pullout time”, kids would be taught the skills they needed, and it would be built into the school day. Like instead of one on one time (amounting to a once a week visit) with a teacher of the blind, where a blind/low vision student would get fifteen minutes of Braille or blindness skills, the student would instead get a set up such as academic classes (and the option of taking selected mainstream classes, through a school that actually is experienced with teaching blind/.low vision students), and classes specifically for things like O&M, and Braille literacy. Some students could even get REAL skilled vocational training (meaning something beyond training to be a bagger at a supermarket or other “vocational” training that would only prepare them for extremely low skilled jobs. Some of the deaf residential schools actually offer skilled vocational training such as automotive repair or what have you.

The latest pro inclusion rhetoric paints mainstreaming as some sort of innovative educational path. It is not, and has not been truly innovative for at least 25 years. It WAS initially an innovative path, but that is because students who’d had the advantage of a few years at deaf school or blind school or other specialized schools were being mainstreamed. Those students had the advantages of specialized skill training, as well as having had a social skill network from their specialized schools. Meaning they’d had exposure to other kids like them, as well as the advantage of an alumni network, that they could use to draw on to network for jobs. The experts thought “If these kids are doing so well, might as well mainstream them ASAP! Imagine the achievement levels THEN!” So the experts pushed a “disabled students have the right to grow up in typical listening/sighted/fill in the blank environments“ mentality.. They can do SO much better and not be “segregated”. They pushed the opinion that specialized classes equated with “segregation.”, without realizing that most mainstream teachers tend not to have the specialized training to teach very specialized skills. The gross majority of kids with disabilities (and that means all kinds, from sensory to cognitive to emotional to what have you) HAVE been mainstreamed, for decades now. According to inclusion/mainstream theory, that should mean that special ed kids should be achieving at a par with their nondisabled peers. Most sped students do not have cognitive challenges. Yet, when standardized test results come out, sped students tend to have low levels of achievement. There’s still huge levels of unemployment, as well as kids getting certificates of attendance, instead of diplomas. To give just one example, back in the old days before mainstreaming became the norm, deaf white males were employed at a higher rate then the white male population in general. Now unemployment in the deaf community is sky high. That may be because when mainstreaming became popular, it broke the back of the ability of dhh students, to network and find dhh friendly employers. Now, with prejudicated potential employers it can be extremely hard to even break into the job market. Take a deaf/hard of hearing job seeker, with a “deaf” accent. Not neccasarily a very difficult to understand voice, but simply an obviously “deaf” accent. Think the way Marlee Matlin or Heather Whitestone speak. Unfortunately, a lot of uneducated people (including people who are in charge of hiring decisions for the job market) may hear the deaf accent, and wrongly assume that the job seeker is mentally disabled or otherwise incapable.

It also ignores the fact that in the past few years American mainstream education has become very college prepatory. There really isn’t a lot of educational programming out there for kids (both with and without disabilities) who simply want to enter the skilled job market after graduation. The blue collar job market has shrunk immensely in the past 20 years. Most mainstream educational programming, focuses on advanced academics.(ie this school has 7 AP classes!) There’s no real training in teaching kids actual job skills. And this isn’t just a problem with kids with disabilities. The job market is glutted with people who are “well educated” but are struggling desperately to find a job. Barbra Ehrienrich wrote a whole book, Bait & Switch about that. It does seem like kids with disabilities can do decently being mainstreamed in the early years of elementary, but then start having major issues as things get harder or more academic. As a matter of fact, as recently as 10 years ago, it was very common for oral deaf kids to do well initially but then transfer to the oral deaf dorm schools (like Clarke, Central Institute for the Deaf and others) for middle school.

Inclusion/mainstreaming also seems to brush under the rug, the fact that kids with disabilities tend to have major social-emotional issues. They struggle so much with trying to survive academically with a minimal accommodations approach, that they don’t really have a lot of energy to expend on the ins and outs of social emotional interaction. Not to mention, that they do not have the energy to pick up on incidental learning. Most learning in school, isn’t of the “sitting in the classroom listening to the teacher.” type. Most school learning is incidental, and most kids with disabilities do not have access to the ins and outs of incidental learning. That is the same with social/friendship issues. Early on, it doesn’t seem all that bad, as friendships in early elementary tend to be of the “ You like that thing? I like this thing! We’ll be best friends!” Parents are agog that their deaf/blind/whatever disability kid is PLAYING and interacting with the “normal” kids, missing that the interaction usually tends to be kind of superficial. However, as time goes on, things get worse. Kids with disabilities don’t get invited to the birthday parties, to hang out after school, to hang out on the playground, they don’t tend to be very popular. They tend to miss out on a more then superficial experience of “friendship” Unless a kid is lucky enough to attend a regional disability program or attend school in a very diverse accepting suburb, friendships in the mainstream seem to dissipate. Especially around middle and high school. It can be really bad. To the point where if a lot of mainstreamed kids had the equitant family life, everyone would be saying that their family life was strongly emotionally dysfunctional, and the authorities would be called in. Heck, recently in the news there’s been a plethora of articles and stories about bullying….sadly it is all too common for kids with disabilities to experience bullying and or severe social isolation. In fact it can be the norm.

School seems to be the base of where kids learn about social emotional interaction. Countless number of disabled kids who have experienced inclusion/mainstreaming, over the years have reported that they don’t have access to “real” friendships. Even the kids who do well academically, very often have significant social issues. (and they are severe and beyond just being “that unpopular kid”) They have no “real” friends. They may have one or two people to interact with superficially, but overall they tend not to be exactly too popular….and forget about having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. They may know how to superficially make a “friend“, (Oh these people are SUPER nice so that means they are automatically my friend) but they do not know about the sophisticated ins and outs of a real healthy relationship. Therefore, they are so lonely that they end up in really horrible relationships (both romantic and social) But they think they are great b/c it’s much better then being alone. I know of countless horror stories….such as a hard of hearing mainstreamed woman who was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a drug abuser. But she stayed in the relationship because she thought that love was blind and he could be SO sweet. Then again, I know another case where, again a woman who had significant social emotional issues due to being mainstreamed has a “boyfriend” who doesn’t even like talking to her when they hang out?!?! Had these two women been able to attend a dhh program or school, their social ability and experiences would be a LOT better.

Compare this with the social experience at a specialized school. There tends to be a sizable group of peers to hang out with and interact. Kids have real friendships and are an active part of a real community, rather then simply existing on the edge of a community. These are friendships that last years if not decades. There is a reason why homecoming at Deaf Schools is such a huge deal…..and there are usually alum from 50 plus years ago at those gatherings. You would never see that sort of thing at a mainstream school (except maybe one that had a strong dhh program). This sort of thing is not just limited to Deaf Schools. Read the alumni newsletter of the NY State School for the Blind, and there are stories of people celebrating their 80th birthdays with their school friends. Again, not something you would ever see at a mainstream school or college. On the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School Alumni site, they comment on the sorry state of social emotional development, that many mainstreamed blind and low vision kids experience. The alums say that at gatherings where products of mainstream schools and blind school alums congregate, they hear the same stories “ Gee that sounds great. I wish I had known about that.” and “ What friends? I didn’t have any real friends. Standing as part of the scenery is not the same as what you have told us about your school.” Poor social emotional development is a very real problem, and is very often brushed under the rug as a problem. It is painted as “ Oh it’s not really a big problem. It’s just a part of mainstreaming. They’ll get better social skills once they graduate.” Unfortunately social skill issues tend to plague a lot of kids throughout adulthood. That is an area of concern, as social skills are extremely important in getting a job. A kid could be a double major in something, and graduate with high honors. But if they don’t even have the ability to interact socially,(especially on a more then superficial level) they will have a very poor chance of being competitively employed. That’s even without the built in prejudice that a lot of job seekers with more obvious disabilities face. Not to mention that poor social skills can and do lead to things like people getting into horrible life relationships or having few or no friends, or even misinterpreting the friendliness of a teacher or just a normally friendly person as “OMG they’re my BEST friend.” and pretty much bombarding them with too much attention, which in turn some might see as almost obsessed/ criminal. In other words having the disadvantage of poor social skills, (due to falling through the cracks) can translate into more global life impacts, then just being not too popular in school.

I am a product of American mainstream/inclusion education (the 80‘s and 90‘s) . I experienced the problems and downsides, and none of the theorized “upsides”. On paper, I probably would have been the perfect candidate for mainstreaming, even before 1974. I attended a special needs preschool, (since I had low muscle tone and a significant spoken language delay due to being hard of hearing) and caught up rapidly. I was first mainstreamed in kindergarten. As a matter of fact, when I was three or four, I somehow taught myself to read. (this was after I had only been in hearing aids for a few months or a year) Kindergarten was pretty easy. But around first or second grade the real problems started to crop up. I was lucky enough to not have any language deficits. About the only special education available was the Resource Room. Meaning one of the set ups where generic special ed teachers taught kids with ADD,LD and other high incidence disabilities. I was in the resource room for handwriting, spelling and math. For support services I got the dhh triad of sitting in front of the room, a body worn auditory trainer (complete with harness) and speech therapy. I am surprised I even got that much. I remember during an IEP meeting, one of the admins telling my parents that “I wasn’t really deaf” so the school didn’t have to provide all that much?!?!. I did OK early on, except for thinking I was the only kid in the universe who had to wear hearing aids, as well as the severe social issues of not really fitting in. I attended a very cookie cutter suburban elementary school, with not a lot of diversity. So I tended to be the target of bullying. I would get tacks on my chair, and very mean phone calls, as well as having to deal with severe social isolation, due to being the “different” kid. Although I do clearly remember sitting in my second grade classroom staring at a worksheet about sylabul and long and short vowel sounds, and being completely puzzled as to how I was supposed to figure something sound related out. I was also completely lost in music class. I could hear the music but had no idea what a quarter note was, or how to read music. That would have been like asking a blind/low vision kid to understand the concept of regular print (without using Braille or large print).

However, academics began to get harder around fourth grade. Although I didn’t hit the oral deaf “fourth grade ceiling”, I STILL began to have issues academically. About the only difference was that I put my foot down and refused to wear the auditory trainer any more. Then came the nightmare of junior high school. Again I was just plunked in the front row, expected to learn like a hearing kid, instead of a deaf kid. Social issues were HORRIBLE. Imagine the typical middle/school junior high. Even kids without disabilities struggle socially then . It’s the era of Mean Girls and Reviving Ophelia, the time of severe cliques. One thing I remember in junior high, is receiving an obscene letter. My parents tried to handle it through the schools, but the attitude was that “boys will be boys. It was just an innocent prank. The feelings of that freaky sped kid doesn’t really matter.” Again, I was the smart kid, but because the sped support services were so bad, and the special ed admins and staff so clueless about how to teach a low incidence disability kid. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed with things like preparing research papers, and translating what I knew to practice. The staff even objected when I wanted to attend an outdoor survival program that happened in 7th grade. ( I was the first kid with a disability to do it.) The only good thing about junior high, was the end of it. High school was a nightmare. I got blamed for underachieving, when in fact, I was drowning in a sea of very poor accommodations. Socially it was horrible. I was stereotyped as mentally handicapped, and made fun of and ostracized. I even had my bike stolen, simply because it was mine!!!!!! One time I was out walking around, and some boys cruising in their car, told me I sucked. Again, the social experience impacted my school work. I spent many days wishing I could do something or that there was another alternative to high school. I had absolutely zero friends. I took mostly academic level classes with a special ed math class and study hall.

I barely graduated, and barely got into college. It was a nightmare that NO kid with a disability should have to go through. Yet there are still many many students (with all sorts of disabilities) who are miserable and not being adequately served/educated in the mainstream. Why do we continue to think that inclusion/mainstreaming is so innovative, and THE ANSWER? Maybe we need to rediscover the fact that what works for one student, may not work for another. Because of that the best educational policy is offering a viable continuim of placement, ranging from residential schools to day programs to self contained classrooms and even solotaire mainstreaming with minimal accommodations.

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21 thoughts on “A Different View: Mainstreaming and Inclusion

  1. Just because you had a bad time in school, doesn’t mean all kids do. Go to http://www.cochlearimplantonline.com and see all the kids who are THANKFUL that they were mainstreamed!

    Also, you claim to know the subjects of many Clarke conferences…how many have you actually attended? Have you spoken to the kids who graduate from Clarke? Followed their progress? Been to reunions and asked how they feel about their education? Of course not.

  2. Oh, also, 80% of deaf children today ARE age appropriate in language skills and are making at least one years progress in one years time…so the idea that mainstreaming is failing most kids is not based in fact. In may not have been the case when you were growing up, but in the generation since CIs and universal newborn hearing screen, the outcomes have changed dramatically.

  3. To the hearing parent who replied: what percentage of children with hearing loss have CIs in USA? Should a percentage of the implanted kids who are having success in mainstreaming completely override the statistics of ALL children with hearing loss in the US? Or are you just focusing on your own child who has a CI and dismissing all other stats unrelated to CI implanted children? Are you informed on the statistics of ALL deaf/hoh kids in mainstreamed education and their performance, socially and academically? And why are you so certain the writer didnt talk to Clarke school graduates? You know her personally? I find your replies to be a typical kneejerk reaction of a hearing parent of a CI child who is very defensive because you don’t like the idea of your own child possibly dealing with the same issues as other kids who do not have CIs or rather you’re fearful s/he might and thus having strong reactions?

  4. I just wanted to reply to “A Parent” in the comment section.

    I’m just floored that you threw out 80% of the Deaf kids are “age appropriate”. I’m so thrilled to hear that. I would require to ask for any proof of that before I can believe you though.

    It is because with 90% of the Deaf kids in mainstream, and the generally accepted stat of the Deaf graduating with “4th grade English” – It would appear to me that mainstreaming is the problem.

    Signing out, and passing the ball into your court, “A Parent”.

  5. 80% of deaf children are age appropriate in language skills? Where exactly did that statistic come from? Making 1 year’s gains in 1 year’s time? Where did you find that information. And, you do realize, don’t you, that simply making gains is not an indication of age appropriateness in language skills. If a child is already 2 years delayed and makes 1 year’s gain, in one year, they are still 2 years delayed. They aren’t even playing catch up effectively.

  6. Dear Parent,

    What sources did the 80% come from? I work with many many deaf childrenchildren in my field of work. I have seen some success stories and some not so successful stories mainstreaming. All of these children have CIs. However, in programs where there are Deaf role models, ASL is valued and respect for Deaf culture values, I havent seen a non-successful story with a child.

    The point is that many children who suffer by being mainstreamed and yes, it happens to this day whether you choose to ignore it or not. Those children’s futures are being sacrificed for the sake of the “hearing” perspective. Who has that right to put the perspective of the hearing on deaf children and then they are the ones who end up with all the problems from mainstreaming? Who?

    It sounds like your success is based on what goes in the ears and out of the mouth not the child as a whole.

    CoNA9705

  7. To the parent…

    http://7thspace.com/headlines/409474/language_acquisition_for_deaf_children_reducing_the_harms_of_zero_tolerance_to_the_use_of_alternative_approaches.html

    Children acquire language without instruction as long as they are regularly and meaningfully engaged with an accessible human language. Today, 80% of children born deaf in the developed world are implanted with cochlear devices that allow some of them access to sound in their early years, which helps them to develop speech.

    However, through early childhood, brain plasticity changes and children who have not acquired a first language in the early years might never be completely fluent in any language. If they miss this critical period for exposure to a natural language, their subsequent development of the cognitive activities that rely on a solid first language might be underdeveloped, such as literacy, memory organization, and number manipulation.

    An alternative to speech-exclusive approaches to language acquisition exists in the use of sign languages such as American Sign Language (ASL), where acquiring a sign language is subject to the same time constraints of spoken language development. Unfortunately, so far, these alternatives are caught up in an “either – or”dilemma, leading to a highly polarized conflict about which system families should choose for their children, with little tolerance for alternatives by either side of the debate and widespread misinformation about the evidence and implications for or against either approach.

    The success rate with cochlear implants is highly variable. This issue is still debated, and as far as we know, there are no reliable predictors for success with implants.

    Yet families are often advised not to expose their child to sign language. Here absolute positions based on ideology create pressures for parents that might jeopardize the real developmental needs of deaf children.

    What we do know is that cochlear implants do not offer accessible language to many deaf children. By the time it is clear that the deaf child is not acquiring spoken language with cochlear devices, it might already be past the critical period, and the child runs the risk of becoming linguistically deprived.

    Linguistic deprivation constitutes multiple personal harms as well as harms to society (in terms of costs to our medical systems and in loss of potential productive societal participation).

    • This post and many others spurred me to invite the writer-and others who feel strong on this issue, to email me.

      My deaf son and I are co-writing a multi-voiced book about language and deaf kids aimed at hearing parents. So far we’ve interviewed about 30 people, including Gallaudet president Alan Hurwitz, brain scientists, and ordinary deaf people with and without CIs.

      We want to help parents understand the cognitive, social, and other risks they take when they make crucial early decisions on behalf of their deaf child.

      If the writer, or others, wish to contact us about our project and possibly provide input in some way, please email me at: christinamgrant@hotmail.com

      Best wishes, everyone. I’m sure we all have the same goals: rich lives and maximum human potential for deaf kids everywhere.

  8. @A Parent:
    Read the PPT and also checked the references. Not impressed with the research that went into this PPT. It was obviously pulled for it’s bias to support the agenda represented in the PPT.

    You would do well to avail yourself of some of the more reliable and valid research out there.

  9. To the Parent. Why is it that you assume that I am automaticly anti-mainstreaming or anti oral or anti Clarke? I know some kids do thrive in the mainstream. I don’t think we need to get rid of mainstreaming at ALL. Just that I do not think that it should be the automatic kneejerk placement for a dhh or blind/low vision or other low incidence kid. Mainstreaming has HUGE downsides and flaws. It is far too easy for kids to fall through the cracks. It SOUNDS good, and in some cases kids have thrived in the mainstream. But many of those kids are the type of kids who would have done well being mainstreamed even in the 40’s and ’50’s. I have friends who are teachers (both regular and sped) and they tell me that they’re seeing the exact same stuff that I experianced with this generation of kids. Which doesn’t surprise me at ALL. CI kids are at best functionally HOH. There have ALWAYS been HOH kids. The popular “auditory rehabilitation” thinking has been that HOH kids aren’t really deaf, and so just need hearing aids/CIs and to be mainstreamed and oralized as much as possible. But if that is the key to sucess, then how come HOH kids of the past are not reaping the rewards of being mainstreamed and oral only?
    It really is too soon to say whether or not newborn screening has made a huge difference. Yes, it’s relatively rare for kids to have severe spoken language issues. Like in the past, it wasn’t that unusual for kids to show up at Clarke or CID at five years old with extreme spoken language delays. But many HOH kids still have spoken language issues. It’s just that those kids can be more easily served in public oral programs. (NOT solotaire mainstream set ups. I mean public oral programs like CASE in Massachusetts or Grand Rapids Oral Program in Michagan) And then there is the fact that when oral kids struggle in the mainstream, they are now sent to their state Deaf School or their local sign using dhh program, instead of Clarke/CID/St. Joseph’s. Did you know that the reason why Clarke/CID/St. Joseph’s had dorms for such a long time, wasn’t b/c a lot of kids were being sent away to the dorms at five years old, but b/c a lot of kids hit the fourth grade oral ceiling, and transferred to those schools for middle school from PUBLIC SCHOOL, when they started to struggle? The problem that I have with the Clarke-style model of ” getting dhh kids up to par” with spoken language and then mainstreaming them ASAP, is that it ignores the fact that while kids can do better in the mainstream early on, there’s still major major academic and social issues for oral only and mainstreamed kids. Believe it or not I DO support Clarke School as a placement, and was saddened to hear that they have ended their dorm program. Yes, it’s good that a lot of kids are doing better….but you’re missing that I had(and have) very good oral and listening skills. Just like you’re claiming that is the key to sucess for this generation. Oral only is NOT new. There have always been orally educated kids. Always! Remember Milan Congress was passed in the 1800’s. As a matter of fact, my verbal IQ is sky high. I am actually an aural learner. Yet still I struggled in the mainstream, just like many of today’s functionally HOH kids will. One of the people responding to you is a psychologist who specializes in working with dhh kids….many of whom are “sucesses” Yet, when their parents leave and the door closes, and her clients tell their stories……many if not most of which are remarkably simlair to my experiance. Technology changes yes….but twenty years ago digital aids were supposed to revolutionize the functioning of HOH kids. *looks around* Gee, what happened? Yes, HOH kids can speak better….but they still have speech delays, and they are still dependent on technology. If their hearing aid or CI breaks they cannot function, at ALL. Whereas a kid with speech training and ASL fluency is bilingal and can function both in the hearing and deaf worlds. Kids are still lagging behind and struggling socially and emotionally. Ask some of the other posters on this thread, at least two of whom were mainstreamed oral dhh students themselves. Ask jill, our resident psychologist. Yes, inclusion and mainstreaming should be an option…..but it should be an option among MANY. Our educational system is TOO one size fits all, and it is FAR too easy for kids to fall through the cracks and not receive needed services. Heck, even sped teachers really are unaware of how to teach dhh and blind/low vision kids and other low incidence kids. Were you aware that gifted kids face a lot of the same issues that sped kids do? Not all mainstream schools are awesome. Would you mainstream a dhh kid in an inner city school or an Montana town ravaged by meth?

  10. Oh, and yes I have many friends who were oral, either solotaire, or went to Clarke or CID. Many of them are glad they can hear and speak. However, despite what you may think There are only a small number of voice off Deaf students….Many of them wish they’d ALSO gotten the advantage of being BILINGAL in Sign AND speech, as well as the advantage of formal sizable dhh program or even Deaf School. At our Deaf messageboard we get a lot of HOH (either functionally or audilogically) kids who say they wish they’d gotten ASL and Deaf School/program, but all they got was speech therapy. I think that says something.(HOH kids are the ones who have been the Most Mainstreamed and Most Oral. Almost all schools for the Deaf do offer a hefty dose of speech therapy you know.

  11. I’m not surprised you didn’t like the research, it is current and it scares you. It shows that your tiny minority community is becoming more obsolete. It shows that kids today are actually doing well, and that scares you. If there are not oral failures to join your ranks, what happens to you and your language in the future.

    The success of childhood implantation is variable, but so is the rest of life. But the truth is, when controlled for things like other disabilities and IQ, early implanted kids are doing great. They are catching up, and staying caught up. The 4th grade reading level is quickly becoming a thing of the past (…except in the case of ASL users, but that is because English is not their native language, so they are being forced to be tested in a language in which many have limited fluency.)

    • Goodness gracious! The research is lacking because it is limited and biased, no matter what the date of publication might be. This was pulled, quite obviously, to serve the agenda for the PowerPoint presentation.

      It shows nothing of the kind. Populations are not large enough to be generalizable. If you were truly interested in having information that would allow you to be better informed regarding all the issues concerning your child, you would be seeking to gain a wider perspective by looking at research that actually shows the negatives, as well. That way you would be prepared for when your child does, and that is not an if, encounter difficulties as that child gets older. But hey, live in that little box of denial if you so choose. If ignorance is bliss, you are living at the doors of Heaven.

      My tiny community becoming obsolete? LOL. You don’t get out much, except for visits to the AVT therapist, do you?

    • To Parent, Jill and all others: I’m pleased to see that Torrie’s article has created such lively debate on this topic. Further comments must remain respectful or they will not be approved. Thank you.

  12. A Parent, you keep missing that HOH kids of yesterday experianced exactly what CI kids experiance today! This isn’t a post about “Oh I could only hear 25% with HA, and was mainstreamed and oral, so I’m against that.”
    The research scares me, but not for the reason you think. We will have ANOTHER generation of kids and PARENTS (the same ones who struggle with clueless mainstream teachers) frustrated as hell with the mainstream system.
    Some kids are doing well, but many others (including the superstars) are still in sped for English and reading and writing. They’re not on par at all. As a matter of fact, I can pretty much guanentee that there are most likely a lot of parents of oral and mainstreamed dhh kids, who keep saying ” Why aren’t there schools for dhh kids?” You’re also assuming that the ONLY kids who use ASL/Sign are severe/profound kids or oral failures. Not quite. There are a lot of HOH kids who use ASL as a second or even first language. There are also many hoh kids who learn ASL as a second language after going to oral preschool. Your hypothesis is that “oh CI equalizes a dhh kid 100% ALL a dhh kid needs is technology. You know, twenty years ago they hypothesized that blind/low vision kids did not need Braille (matter of fact, my friend attended Perkins in the 90’s and never got to learn Braille) ALL they needed was books on tape and other technologies. Guess what? The blind community has a HUGE unemployement rate, but of those who are Braille literate the employment rate is sky high. …sound familiar? I predict that ASL/Sign is going to be the Deaf Community’s Braille, and there will be an upsurge in its use educationally.

  13. To a parent..

    Interesting that you say “our tiny community is going to become obsolete.” Says a lot about how you view many of us. Thanks for the discrimination and audism you have put on many deaf children. I have no interest in continuing my dialogue with you if you hold these discriminating views.

  14. A Parent, today I was reading a thread about bullying and not fitting in at a Deaf forum. A mainstreamed and oral boy had posted saying that he had not been bullied b/c it was known he dealt drugs, and hung out with the drug dealers in his school?!?!. Why is it that parents of oral and mainstreamed kids think that their kids will automaticly reap the rewards of the hearing world and none of the downsides? I remember reading on a hearing loss messageboard, that a parent said that she had decided to let her HOH kids grow up with ASL, AND speech when she talked with some oral adults who said that despite the fact that they are glad they have good speech skills, they still do not feel like they fit into the hearing world entirely.
    I also think that you are most likely relatively new to the community and that your child is still relatively young. I assume you are also unaware that back in the 1980’s (before CIs) many oral researchers were coming out with flawed research proving that oral only and mainstreaming was supeior.
    This generation is still really young. It’s too soon to say whether or not this generation will be THE generation that will thrive on a minimal accomondations approach, and be able to reap the rewards of a hearing world. I do have to say that I do remember twenty years ago when they were saying that digital aids and CIs (after all CIs are NOT new) were going to revolutionize mainstram and oral education. Only time will tell, but I do have this to say. Those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Also those of us who are posting were the superstars of yesterday.

  15. This article has really been food for thought for my DH and I. Our HoH lad went to bilingual preschool. We involve ourselves in the Deaf community for events and such like. We didn’t send him to the local Hearing Support Unit in a mainstream school because they said “No Signing Allowed”. Our only option we felt at the time was our local primary as a “solitude mainstream” and the teacher learnt Auslan. My cheeky monkey then refused to sign with her since her signing was too slow. He has had a very successful first year at school but I think we will rethink our options for next year perhaps. Having HoH and Deaf friends is important to him and us.
    PS He speaks and listens beautifully and reads well, he signs less well but can communicate with anyone.

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