A community that excludes even one member is no community at all. Dan Wilkins
Tonight I started discussions with the local school district on where Peyton best belongs when she has the option to attend preschool this summer. The transition from the infant program to preschool in the school district is complex enough that they publish a small manual on all the steps. Peyton is more complicated then most in that she not only has medical considerations but physical ones as well. Peyton is hard of hearing but "aided" she could easily be mainstreamed. Peyton has a trach and g tube but with a nurse she could easily be mainstreamed. Peyton has a few physical limitations due to her upper extremities and being smaller than most children her age but with some modifications to the classroom she could easily be mainstreamed. The sticking point continues to be her communication style - or should I say styles? Receptive communication (what she is taking in) she was actually above age level when tested in the fall. It's the expressive communication (how she communicates back) that is in transition for her. Up until about six months ago, her expressive communication was entirely ASL. Then she started talking and we were thrilled! Unfortunately, being so late to talking and compounded with craniofacial differences she is very difficult to understand. So where does this little girl belong? In a deaf/hard of hearing classroom where everyone is "speaking" her native language (ASL) or in a mainstreamed classroom with an interpreter to help her communicate with her teacher, nurse and the other students in the language most compatible with the rest of society? There are pros and cons to each and as she gets older it may be she spends time in both during the course of her day. This will be an interesting journey for her and for us.
I am grateful for all the children that came before Peyton who did not have the luxury of IEP's and infant programs and deaf/hard of hearing classes - they have paved the way to Peyton getting the best public education possible.