Monday, June 18, 2012

Not Your Typical English Language Learner

I am finally getting to the "unique case" mentioned on my Facebook page... it's been a nutty end of the school year, so sue me (hey '90s flashback catch phrase). On an up note, 4 more days!!

Every spring, elementary buildings in my district are in charge of reevaluating prekindergarten students receiving Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) to see if they qualify for school age services conducted under the Committee on Special Education (CSE) when they enter kindergarten. We haven't had too many to do, but this interesting case made up for that.

O entered our prekindergarten in January, having not received any schooling since June 2011. We knew right away that O would need a lot of support, not only because he missed half a year of instruction, but because he is a hearing child of two parents who are deaf. American Sign Language is O's native language and what is used at home, so he is technically learning English. Curious, right? Because he has had so little exposure to English, his speech is similar to that of a person who is hearing impaired, and is only 30% intelligible. O receives speech/language therapy and special education teacher services as part of his CPSE programming.

We went around and around about programming and an appropriate classification for O when he enters kindergarten. He has a great deal of need, so we knew he would qualify for services, but for what, we were unsure. New speech testing indicated severe language delays in all areas (receptive, expressive, language structure, articulation). He also had a highly variable cognitive profile and limited school readiness skills. Despite a high profile of academic need, I could not classify him as a student with a Learning Disability, due to his lack of exposure to appropriate instruction from June '11 to January '12 (per New York State regulations). We decided to go with a classification of Speech/Language Impairment.

Our district has a few classrooms at the kindergarten level for students with severe language impairments. One is a regular sized class that has a full-time teacher plus a full-time speech/language therapist, and the other is a 15:1 Special Class with a full-time special education teacher and speech/therapist. Both of these classes offer 60 minutes of speech therapy every day, on top of ongoing remediation provided within the room during the way. We recommended O for the 15:1 level of service, so that he can not only receive intensive speech services, but his academic deficits can also be addressed. At the end of kindergarten, the CSE team at his new building will reevaluate his program, examine his progress, and determine the most appropriate services as he gets older.

Have any of you ever worked with a student who has parents who are hearing impaired? What strengths and weaknesses did they have? How did they fair learning/refining their English skills in school?

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  1. Really interesting! I hope you'll provide updates. I haven't had this situation, but it reminded me of a great book -- Train Go Sorry, by Leah Hager Cohen, who grew up hearing within the deaf culture of a school for the deaf in NYC. It's a quick and interesting read.

  2. That sounds like a really cool book, Rebecca! Perhaps some summer reading. :) Unfortunately, O's placement for next year will not be at our building, but I usually keep an eye on the kiddos who leave us through our district-wide special ed. database.


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