When we first met Amy and her little brothers, they were playing, laughing and jumping all around. It was hard to tell at first that Amy was deaf. Then, Amy stepped forward and began to motion to her mother, and to us. Her mother explained that neither Amy, nor she knew sign language. The family is new to California, and Amy had been placed in a regular first grade classroom. Amy played alone, and didn’t have any friends at school because she couldn’t communicate.
Amy is 7 years old, and deaf. She was born with hearing, but lost it after a series of ear infections when she was only 3 years old. Her mother told us that she wanted to learn sign language; she had even checked out a book from the library. However, with no support, she hadn’t be able to learn much yet. So, our Family Preservation Program (FPP) Social Worker began doing some research.
Our Social Worker discovered the California School for the Deaf. This is a school in Fremont that boasts of an all-deaf environment, sports, art, and most importantly, peers for Amy to learn to communicate with.
The Social Worker started the process by calling the school, and gathering information on how to apply, and if Amy would qualify to attend. Next came the school tour. The Social Worker picked up Amy and her mother and drove them from Oakland to Fremont. Amy was very excited, bouncing in the seat. She saw the teachers singing, and although she didn’t know what they meant, she knew this school was full of people like her.
It took Amy’s mother, with the help of our Social Worker, weeks of paperwork, meetings and advocacy to get Amy into the California School for the Deaf, but it happened! Then came the challenge of transportation. Amy’s mother is a single mother with two other children. She does not own a car. The issue at hand was how to pay for a school bus to transport Amy to and from school every day, all the way from Oakland to Fremont. Armed with advice from the attorneys at the California School for the Deaf, Amy’s mother and the Social Worker requested a meeting with the Oakland Unified School District. It took two weeks to convince the Oakland School District to pay for the school bus to take Amy to Fremont, to the California School for the Deaf.
Amy’s school bus picked her up the first Monday in April. She reported that night that she wanted to go “every day” for the “rest of her life” to this new school.
The Social Worker has also helped Amy’s Mom apply for a scholarship to a Sign Language Class in Berkeley. We are thrilled to report that she has received the scholarship, and will soon be beginning her Sign Language Classes.
Some details have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.