Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fall on the Farm

I've met a handful of parents through Ethan's school and this morning one his classmates and his mother invited us to visit a heritage farm. The weather was gorgeous and the kids painted pumpkins, pet several animals, and watched a group of cloggers do their thing to some bluegrass tunes. It was so nice to get out and enjoy the day with a new friend! 

Ethan loved watching the chickens, I hated smelling them.

Ethan signing chicken...

A line forming for a hay ride around the farm. We didn't opt to try this since Ethan would have been diving head first off the back of the wagon. 

Looking at the billy goats.

The sight of this cow prompted a sign as well as a spirited "Moo" sound from Ethan, minus the "M" phoneme. He's still working on that letter...

IEP Update 
We're moving things forward, slowly but certainly strategically. I dropped in and observed the preschool classroom at the public school where Ethan would be placed if he were not at the deaf school visiting. This is a classroom that we were told would be total communication. It was far from a TC environment. I saw very little sign language while I was there and even saw some being done incorrectly. So....

Next we are going to have an IEE (independent education evaluation) performed by a psychologist that will focus on Ethan's social emotional development with regards to his communication modality. Ideally, this person will visit both classrooms (public and deaf school) and assess Ethan as well, then write a report that will confirm what we have been saying all along. How is he supposed to develop socially or emotionally (or even academically) in an environment that at its most basic doesn't have any fluent signers?

Needless to say, I didn't see that interpreter/aide that they promised and even if I had, it wouldn't change the whole environment to a TC classroom. It would mean that one person in it was fluent in sign. Big deal. 

We're also giving up on our advocate and are shopping for a new one. The one we've been dealing with has been harder to work with than the school. She's an abusive bully who yells at me when I ask any type of question. Yesterday after a quick question she responded, "Aren't you listening? Haven't you heard a thing I've said?"! She also never lets me finish a sentence. And she's very unorganized and is unable to focus her attention. People put up with her because she does it for free and she knows the law and understands apraxia and hearing loss. I'm not a glutton for punishment, nor am I incapable of reading and understanding my rights without being berated in the process. I think she's a liability in the long run. 

This isn't easy and I'm sure I'll look back on this time in my life as a period of intense stress and worry. But the big picture remains unchanged, Ethan is going to be fine. 


Kyla said...

What a fun day on the farm!

Good luck with the IEP thing. I hope it all works out perfectly.

Cheryl said...

That advocate did not sound like a good fit, right from the start. You had that gut feeling about her and the last thing you need is more stress, from the advocate no less. So glad you are doing that.

I love how you are being very strategic about changing the IEP. You are doing it in such a Professional, yet firm manner. Bottom line, they don't know Ethan and will have to listen to you. The classroom visit confirmed what you knew all along. I am so proud of you, although not surprised. Now from one mother to another, "Kick their asses!"

Glad you got to go to the farm with a new friend. Looks like fun was had by all.

Keep us updated.


leahlefler said...

The farm visit looks like fun! My goodness, you have had a run for your money with the whole IEP process. He really thrives in a true TC environment, and the only place that truly offers that is St. Rita's. I certainly hope you guys prevail on that one!

Julie said...


Those are great pics - Ethan is adorable :0)

I'm amazed at all your doing for the IEP "battle". You can SEE Ethan blossoming like a flower at St. Rita's - whenever I check your blog I'll be praying for the outcome.

You're fighting the good fight,


tammy said...

The pictures are great! Looks like Ethan had a fun time! Wow ... I can't believe anyone would talk to another human being that way. I'm a strong person, but there's no way I'd take that "abuse". Good for you!

Kellan said...

I can not believe how mean your advocate has been - that is just awful. Is there not anyone you can tell about her behavior - that is just the most awful thing!

I'm glad you and Ethan had such a good day - it looked like fun and I can't believe how big Ethan is getting. I haven't been by in a while (sorry about that) and he is really growing and is so cute!!

Nice to see you Hetha! I wish you ALWAYS the best for you and Ethan!

Take care - Kellan

Lucky Day said...

Our battle with the school is just like yours. We've applied to the deaf school 90 miles away and hope to go 1 day a week. Eventually we hope to move a larger city where there are more options.
Isn't it great when they start initiating signing conversations?! I love watching my son grown in this way. I'm glad you shared your experiences. It strengthened me in my journey.

Shiloh said...

Ethan always looks like such a happy little boy. He has such a beautiful soul and I am sure he gets it from his mommy. You are a true inspiration. You are the best advocate for Ethan and he is such a lucky little boy to have such a persistent mommy. It is so exhausting to constantly fight for everything you know your child needs, but God will give you the strength. I have had a few battles for Isaac and I can relate to how consumed you become with the cause. Just make sure you are taking some time for you. I am sending you big cyber hugs. You are an amazing woman.

Aliki2006 said...

I can't believe that advocate! I'm glad you're on the lookout for another one--good luck.

And I agree with you--chickens smell--ugh.

Beck said...

That looks like such a perfect day at the farm, smelly chickens or no.

I always wonder what is WRONG with people like that advocate - how does one get to adulthood acting like that?

Nicky said...

What beautiful pictures of Ethan, he looks like he's having fun. I'm sorry you're having such a battle with the IEP and now a seriously bizzare sounding advocate. Everything I read on your blog about the school Ethan is at sounds wonderful and he sounds like he is really thriving there. Why can't the decision makers see that? it must be so frustrating for you. Thinking of you lots and sending positive thoughts over the ocean.
Nicky (Tom's mummy) xxx

Melissa said...

It sounds like you made the right decision in regards to firing the current advocate. You don't need that "frantic energy" in your life, nor the emotional abuse! You've been through enough! A n advocate can still be effective without being aggressive. Good for you for taking the leap of faith. I bet your gut hasn't steered you wrong in the past, so it is good you honored it!

Wow, Heather. So much has gone on with you over the years. You and Rich are an outstanding team! I admire your bravery and perseverence. I have a good friend who is married to a man who is deaf. They live in DC and both are interpreters for the gov't. Let me see if they have any recommendations for advocates!

Take care and say hello to RIch from me and give Ethan a big hug from me!!!