Thursday, November 12, 2009

The FM fight

In the time since Julia’s hearing loss was diagnosed I’ve learned much about assistive technology. Here in PA, the county provides her with an FM System that transmits the teacher’s voice directly to her hearing aids. The teacher wears a necklace-type transmitter that they simply power ON to use. It’s handy in noisy classrooms or when they sing songs with background music. It really helps her. Unfortunately, a great deal of my newfound knowledge pertains to the resistance/inability of preschool staff to use the technology.

In our last preschool, I could find no other excuse than the age of the staff. There were three of the most kind, attentive, wonderful women in her classroom every day. They seemed to go the extra mile for the kids. They just couldn’t figure out Julia’s FM system. The thing has one button. I showed them how to use it. A hearing support teacher showed them. They didn’t think she needed it. Finally, I threatened that if they couldn’t figure it out, I would take her to a new school.

Now we’re at a new school in a new county. The teacher, a former second grade teacher, was quite familiar with FM. She’s used it before. Everything should be copacetic, or so I thought.

Last week, I picked up my lovely daughter and she says, “Mommy, what was that sound?” I hadn’t heard anything. “I didn’t hear anything, sweetie. How was your day?” I asked. “It’s my FM,” she says, very matter of fact. I look in her backpack that she had just pitched onto the front seat of the car. There inside is her FM packed inside a freezer bag, still powered on. Way to go new preschool!

Now that she’s older, these inattentive dolts give her an opportunity to practice her self-advocating skills. I told her to remind the teachers to turn off the transmitter at the end of the day. She gave me a whole breakdown, “Mommy, when it has numbers it’s on. When it has no numbers, it’s off.” Just listen to the four-year-old, everything will be okay.

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