Just when I thought we might be able to get through this IEP process, with finally having some dates to look forward to firmly scheduled on the calendar, the process takes a turn for the worse. Again.
Our MFE Meeting was on Wednesday, where we discussed the results of Drew's evaluation, performed by the school district. These evaluations were to determine Drew's eligibility for an IEP, and thus special education services. Let me say that the law clearly states that a child with a "50db pure tone hearing loss over [4 different frequencies]" qualifies under the category of deafness. Since Drew's pure tone loss is 100db, across all frequencies, it's clear as day, correct?
The first forty-five minutes of the meeting were spent giving the school district personnel an education on hearing loss and how to read Drew's audiogram. Seriously, the representatives from the district could not read an audiogram, and had no idea what a normal hearing range for a child even was. I had out pictures of audiograms showing what sounds Drew can hear, what he can not; pictures of what items make sounds at what decibel levels so that they could have some understanding of normal hearing. It was really quite shocking how little they understood about hearing loss. And they certainly knew nothing how how a cochlear implant works, and even less on how Drew actually hears with his cochlear implants. This is very alarming, especially considering that these individuals are involved in making decisions about my child's education.
Clearly Drew is doing well with his cochlear implants, and scored within one standard deviation of average on the PLS-4, a speech and language evaluation given by an SLP from the school district. Because of this score, the district sees Drew as an average child for his age, and is saying that his disability has no adverse effect on his education. (Which, again, it outside of the actual law.)
Are you kidding me? I think I've spent enough time and energy researching Drew's disability to know that profound hearing loss has had an adverse effect on his education to date, and will continue to have an adverse effect on his education. Since Drew has been in early intervention since he was six-weeks old, and has had a minimum of two hours of formal aural or speech therapy a week since implantation, in addition to the therapy provided by us at home, how has his disability not impacted his education? If a typically hearing child was given as much therapy as Drew, s/he would test so far above average on the PLS-4 that s/he could go ahead and start Kindergarten at age three. I mean, seriously, this is just a bunch of crap. Drew's hearing loss has an impact on him each and every day of his life. As his parents, we do as much as we can to minimize those effects; we minimize background noise, speak so that Drew can see our lips, phrase questions in ways we know he will understand, speak louder and clearer, get his attention before speaking to him, just to name a few.
So, after three and a half hours, we left the meeting with no determination on Drew's eligibility for an IEP. And, to top it off, the meeting ended with the Special Education Department Representative storming out of the meeting after I questioned why the law was being interpreted differently by our school district than what it is in every other district we know in Ohio. Apparently my question, while valid, was seen as "disrespectful" and warranted juvenile behavior that you would see from a 13 year old child. Not surprising; pretty much every encounter we've had with the school district has included juvenile behavior.
This is what we are dealing with, day in and day out. And we have been dealing with since the day we had our transition conference back in March. One delay after another, in an attempt to deny our son special education services that he so clearly needs and qualifies for. So, we left the meeting without eligibility, and will reconvene on Monday to make a final determination.
**Updated: We received an email from the district on Sunday morning indicating that they would like to complete further testing of Drew and reschedule his eligibility meeting for later in the week or early in the following week. The stall attempts continue, because with each passing day, they give us one less day to do the things we need to do in order to get our son the services he needs. Seriously, I don't think I could even begin to share all we have been through because it is just so ridiculous that it is almost unbelievable.