Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A gift we take for granted..

A new student started a week ago, she attended the Montessori nursery class several years ago and left to go to primary school. Her mother brought her back to us in hope that we could help her. This girl is 8 years old and is deaf, she has very limited hearing with a hearing aid which is progressively getting worse until eventually she will no longer hear. In her previous schools she had no friends and everyone including the teachers were hurtful to her, her mum moved her to another school however she had an even worse experience where she was sent to the back of the class to spend a year not learning as she couldn't even hear the teacher [who refused to wear a device that would ensure the teachers voice would go directly to the girls hearing aid].

Her mum pleaded that we help her and I couldn't say no, I know that God has sent this girl in my path for a reason and I must do all I can to help her. God has taken from her a sense that we all take for granted and she struggles in her life, not only because she can't hear but because other people [adults and children] treat her differently and don't give her the love and respect every child deserves.

I am really happy that we took her on, there is lots of work to do with her academically and emotionally. She is very unsure of herself, she tells stories of being bullied, of teachers criticising her and stories of how she would plead not to go to school.

After spending a few days with us, she wrote me a poem in which she said ' Thank you for being such a nice and caring teacher and thank you for helping me with my work'. Apparently she's being going home everyday telling her mother how I am so nice and so kind to her.

Now that she has been with us for a week, her mother has noticed that she has changed and is much happier, she asks to go to school instead of pleading to stay home. She's so excited to learn and take part in everything that's going on. Although she can't hear everything that's going on in the class, she seems to be excellent at lip reading. I have to wear a radio device so that she hears me when I need to talk to her. I haven't worked with a deaf child before, so it's all new for me, but I am pleased that I have been given this chance to get things right for her. If anyone has any advice or information about teaching a deaf child then please let me know I would be grateful.
Picture: Her leaf rubbing work


Julie said...

Hearing is a gift we take for granted! My mom is deaf in one ear, and while she's not totally deaf, it is frustrating at times. Since college, I've not lived at home ~15 yrs. So, when I go home for the holidays, I always have to "adjust" to her style of communicating - i.e., letting her read my lips, not mumbling, and remembering not to talk to her when I'm in another room. It can be frustrating for us both. The child in your classroom is fortunate to have you as an understanding teacher.

jojoebi said...

good luck with your new student, it sounds like she is settling in. How about setting up a sign language project (I assume she signs). If the other children could learn some signs then maybe she could make some new friends or maybe add signing to the morning greeting and build up from there.
I did baby signing with Ebi-kun and i am surprised that he still remembers some.

Annicles said...

We have an autistic child in our class who has also had a less than happy experience of school. the only advice I have is to keep learning everything about how she experiences the world and what she finds helpful. There's a huge wealth of information out there, it's finding what is relevant that's hard!

Our most sucessful way of helping her has been having a visual timetable so she knows that singing or art is coming up in the afternoon and isn't taken by surprise. This may help your child as I know from when my daughter suffered from glue ear that changes in what was going on without warning is very distressing. Maybe you have a very caring child who you could ask to warn her when it's time for things to change..... or maybe you'll find as we have that the whole class has taken it upon themselves to look after her. One thing our child finds hard is circle time (for social reasons) but she is often found sitting on some childs lap. Both are happy so we let it happen!

The only other advice I could possibly offer is to keep talking to her parents, on a daily, informal basis and more formally for her SEN conferences so that they keep their confidence in you and feel they can make suggestions and will get positive but truthful feedback.

The power of children to be a source of healing is as amazing as their ability to be destructive of some-ones happiness. It depends on their adult example so much. I'm sure you'll have interesting times ahead, but I'm also sure you'll got through and this will be good for everyone in your school.