Where does time go? Didn't we just bring AJ home from Guatemala?! I guess not....
AJ will be 3 in June. He will no longer receive Birth to Three services and will transition into the school system.
Today we toured a preschool classroom at a school we are considering for AJ. Thanks to another CI Mom for posting an awesome Preschool Placement Checklist for Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. It came in handy today!
A few months ago we heard the name "Lowell" and had no idea what it was. Lowell Elementary School offers programs for children with and without hearing loss. The school houses the Wisconsin Statewide Demonstration Project Auditory-Oral Program. We've been discussing Lowell with AJ's EET, SLP, and CI Audi for quite a while. His EET set up a tour and met us there today.
First we observed the 3K (preschool) AO program class. There were HEARING peers among the children in the class. The other children all had CIs. We were able to meet and talk with the teacher, who is also the AO program coordinator. There was also a teacher's aide and an SLP in the classroom. They rotated activities while each child received speech in the sound booth...that is IN THE ROOM! (For all you parents of D/HOH kids, I much prefer the ones with windows, don't you!)
The teacher then took us on a tour of the rest of the school. They have a ratio of 1:3 or 4 kids has an IEP. By 3rd grade, most ( I use this term lightly) kids are mainstreamed into a regular classroom, with maybe a one-on-one with a TOD or the SLP as part of their school day. What we liked is that it is very individualized. They will look at what AJ's specific needs are. AJ will not be segregated from his hearing peers-we like that A LOT. There were also sound booths in the 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. We also observed a Total Communcation class and a 2nd grader during his one-on-one time with a TOD. Amazing!
There are multiple SLPs on staff, as well as an OT and PT. AJ could receive all of his services at school. (Note: we still anticipate the need for PT outside for school for at least the first year) There is an audiologist on staff as well. The Auditory Oral Program staff works closely with our pediatric cochlear implant program at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
Overall, we were very impressed. We were impressed with the level of attention each child in the class received. The facilities were amazing. The classes are small. The structure of the classroom appealed to us. The staff was incredible, with a program director who is really on top of her game. This would be a great place for AJ to learn!
One downside. The school isn't very close to us. AJ's dad and I have some serious thinking to do.
AJ's EET will be here Friday for her usual home visit and I am anxious to discuss, in detail, our visit today. We also thought of more questions on the ride home. I will be contacting the program director soon to address them.