What a relief. This has all been very stressful and time consuming but the last of the evaluations are DONE! Yay!
We don’t have the official results but based on what the evaluator told Duhdee I think Beverly is a real possibility for us. She agreed with the speech evaluator that it is essential that he be in a total communication environment. She recommends adding a picture exchange system to his signs (which we are experimenting with) so that down the road he can transition to a device that uses pictures to form sentances and speak for him. She said he’s not ready yet for a device like that but did suggest some software that will get us moving along that path. Our next meeting is April 9th and we’ll discuss what sort of services Monkey will need/receive.
Since you all may be wondering, The Beverly School for the Deaf is a private school in Beverly, MA. Despite what the name implies, it is not a school solely for kids who are deaf or hard of hearing. They have a fantastic integrated program that serves kids with all sorts of communication problems. They have typically developing peer models that are in the classes (these kids have no special needs.) They have kids with hearing issues but no developemental delays. They have kids with a wide range of developmental delays. The common theme is that these kids all need a variety of methods of communicating.
They use “signing exact english” in all parts of the school so everyone learns and understands sign language. They also use spoken english in all parts of the school. They also use any other methods of communication that the kids are successful with (picture exchange system (PECS) for example.) Research has shown that the more methods of communicating that you give a child the more likely they are to learn language/speech. It’s really fascinating really. I know some people believe it holds kids back and keeps them from learning to talk but experience and extensive research has shown just the opposite is true.
So that’s where we are at for now. We’re going with his current strength (ASL) and working toward finding another way for him to communicate (speaking, hopefully, or some sort of technology.) I suspect that at some point he’ll go to a mainstream classroom in Cambridge, that is what we want for him, but we need to make sure he has the tools to communicate, learn and make friends first !