I had to walk away and let the paint dry. If I added charcoal and drawing and more paint and collage I would have ended up with mess. It was a struggle to get in my studio. I needed it so badly. I am an artist first. Lately I feel like an activist first and a housewife. And anxiety ridden. Fiona started to talk about how she didn’t want to go to Jacks school today last night. Then this morning she told me again, multiple times. She said it was too loud. Last night she said because she doesn’t have friends there. That her good friends are at Shannon’s class. I counted on the calendar last night, Fiona only has eight days left in her TC pre-school. She has a bit longer in Jacks school, but that she could do without. Fiona tried to take a stuffy and two very special snugglies she’s had since birth to class today. Technically the children are not allowed to bring stuffies or toys, but I asked the school to make an exception for Fiona. One day Fiona and I worked out a plan that when it gets too loud she can take her stuffy and go sit somewhere that’s quiet. The teachers agreed. I noticed her in the back seat of my car practicing her sign language on the drive to school this morning too. When I left her there I felt bad. I walked my dog in a daze. I feel in a daze now. I didn’t think this would happen again. I thought that I had been convinced by everyone that Fiona will do fine in a mainstream classroom. I had a great IEP, Fiona got really good services. But she doesn’t have a small class size, she doesn’t have any sign language education or support, and she doesn’t have a teacher educated to teach deaf/HH students.
Fiona is only five, she can’t explain to me what she wants or what it’s like to be her. But if she keeps complaining about a school being too loud and that no one plays with her after going there periodically for two years and going consistently at least two days a week for three months it scares me. There aren’t that many kids in the classes there, between 6-10 during snack, some playtime, and story/ activity time. At group and recess there are around twenty give or take. The teacher uses the FM sometimes, but since most of the time is spent in group activity, I don’t think it’s used very often.
What is true? What is not? And what accommodations for Fiona are disposable? What does she really need? I think my public-school district is doing the best they can in the constraints we are in. But will it be good enough? Is there any way to make it good enough?
I want to paint and write my second book. I want to be creative, but when I get this anxiety I can’t focus. All I do is wonder what decision is best? And I wonder, why do I feel like this? And why, before I visited Fremont did I feel like I was willing to try the plan we came up with at the IEP, where lots of things are great? Why did visiting Fremont cause so many doubts in me?
It brought back everything I’ve been fighting for for two years. All the e-mails I sent to the school district about sign language and Fiona’s hearing. All my documentation of what she misses on a daily basis. Then they said no to the sign language but assured me the accommodations she’s getting will suffice. I dropped my fight for the interpreter because there’s no SEE sign interpreters and Fiona doesn’t know ASL yet. But even with an interpreter it’s not going to fix the social part of the picture. But in the end, I gave up fighting for sign language in my public neighborhood school.
Everyone always says listen to your gut. My gut leans a way I never would have expected it to. And it all boils down to this level of Fiona simply going to school and having everything she needs. Fiona spending the day in an environment where things aren’t so heavily dependent on her hearing aids, which are great in only one type of situation. Where she can easily access what her teachers are teaching and what her classmates are saying. Where she doesn’t have to strain all day long, use the FM all day and trust that the teacher wears it correctly and faces Fiona when she is lecturing. Fiona will have to contend with background noise, that when I checked while I was doing my tours was really loud at times. And it may not be like that at the new elementary? It may be fine. That’s what the experts say. It’s supposed to be fine. But Fiona ask’s for clarification every time I say something unless perfect conditions for communication are present. Then I start thinking I’m crazy, like it’s my imagination. I can’t wait until Fiona can tell me from her perspective!
In the meantime, I’m just going nuts. Stressed again, worried, anxious, my backs tight, body stiff. I still have one hour to work in my studio. I will do that now. I need more creative time.