Recently, another family shared their experience transitioning to the the Early Learning Center (ELC) at Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB). Matt, Melissa, and Gunnar are from Kentucky but – like us – they made a huge decision to move their family to Florida for their son. They desired the best for their son’s education so that he would not be isolated and lag behind but that he would excel! Here is their story.
I am also a proud parent of a deaf/heard of hearing child at FSDB. As a matter of fact Michael and my son Gunnar were in the ELC together and are now in kindergarten together. Like Leanna and Brent we moved to this area strictly for the school. We are from Kentucky!
When our family took a tour of the school, I knew that this is where my child belonged. He was in Pre-K at school in Kentucky and he had a great teacher. But we had to face some big up coming choices. We did not feel the services would be good for our son.
When we had told his teacher that we had visited FSDB, her response was overwhelmingly positive. She said “Do whatever you have to do to get him in there. It is, hands down, the best place for him.”
So we did just that. Within one year my husband and I both gave up our jobs, packed everything and moved to Florida!
Melissa Shares Gunnar’s Experience in the ELC
I can tell you from the very first time we stepped into the Early Learning Center (ELC), my son was excited! He finally felt like he belonged. I know that may sound harsh but it is true. My little guy loved going to school! He was excited to have friends – not just any friends – friends who have ‘special ears’ too.
About the staff in the ELC – I can not say enough! From the very first time we met Gail, Ms. Dani and Ms. Tristan (jumping our car) we were at ease. Every teacher and aide in the ELC pours everything they have into our kids. I know that they helped my son to get ready for kindergarten. We were concerned that he would have to wait another year. Nope sure didn’t.
By the time my child finished last year, he was where every hearing 5 year old kids were. For the first time in my baby’s life he was not considered behind or lacking in areas. To hear this, as a parent, is great!
We knew at this point that coming to FSDB was the best decision we ever made. FSDB is not only a school – they are a family.
Melissa Shares Their Experience with Audiologists
Aaawww – I totally understand. Our bad story made me cry just thinking there was no hope in sight. I remember it clearly.
Like you guys, we had the ABR test. This too was when reality set in for us as parents that we were going to have a deaf/hard of hearing child. The audiologist we had first was fantastic. We had seen her up until Gunnar was 13 months old.
At this point he was trying to talk and was at the age where he was trying to mock us. So, our audiologist suggested it was time to start looking in the direction of hearing aids to help Gunnar as much as possible. After meeting with her and Gunnar’s ENT we set up for his fitting and a booth test.
Our Audiologist went on maternity leave and we were set up with someone new. We thought this was going to be easy and we would get fitted and be on our way. Yeah, right! I don’t think this new lady even looked at my son’s chart.
She said we will do your booth test first and go from there. So we did the booth test. The results were worse than the other two times, so we thought for sure we would get his hearing aids ordered. Then the most heart wrenching thing that has ever been said to me broke my heart. She looked at me and said, “Because your child is at home and not in a daycare or school setting I am not going to do hearing aids for him.“
My heart dropped. You could just see my face. I was in shock. Here we spent 2 months testing and meeting with doctors to make sure this was what Gunnar needed and she said no because he is at home with me?
I had a lot of mixed emotions. I felt mad, sad and hurt. My poor husband was looking at me and seeing my crazy face. He said, “Thank you ma’am we will be in touch.” He is level headed when it comes to this stuff. Not me – I am the ‘crazy baby momma’!
When we got home I was just so upset. About that time, my First Steps caseworker, Stacey, called to ask how everything went. She is an audiologist and deaf herself. I told her while sobbing my eyes out. She said, “No, this is unacceptable! He should have hearing aids because he is at home. He needs to be able to hear something there too. We are going to fix this right now.“
So Stacy did a conference call to the doctors and the audiology department at Children’s Hospital. Needless to say, Stacey taught me that day that I am the only one who is going to stand up for Gunnar and I needed to.
We were brought back in two days to get fitted and we were set up with someone new who my son grew to love. I was heartbroken to have to leave her when we moved here. Please know that there are good audiologists out there. You just have to find the right one for you.
We are so grateful to Melissa and Matt for sharing their story with us. As parents, we are responsible for looking out for our children. As parents of Deaf/Hard of Hearing children, we must also advocate for our children to make sure they receive what they need.