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The right school for Joshua

Photo: Read Joshua's story

Whether your child prefers using speech or sign, or both, finding the right school for your deaf child is important. You need to know they’ll have the best chance to learn and develop. Mum Eda tells us how she chose one for Joshua.

“I used to feel very sorry for Joshua. He is profoundly deaf and I used to wonder, will he find a place in life? Will he learn? Will he have a career? But now I know he will be fine – he’s shown me I don’t need to think negatively about his situation.

"You have to find out what the different options are." 

I originally started Joshua off in a mainstream school, which he attended for a year. I wanted to see how he would cope in a mainstream environment but chose a school with a hearing impaired unit for extra support.

He enjoyed school but I noticed his speech wasn’t developing and his vocabulary wasn’t increasing.

Although he had friends, when I saw Joshua with hearing children I could tell he was in a world of his own because he didn’t understand them. I wondered then whether I’d made the right choice.

I needed to see what was out there so I contacted some different schools. It’s so important to make an informed choice – you have to find out what the different options are.

I visited the schools in our area and asked them how they could support Joshua. I asked about the curriculum and looked at whether the classrooms were suitable for a deaf child. I spoke to parents of deaf children about what school their deaf child attended and their experiences.

I didn’t rule anything out until I’d seen all the options.

After visiting Longwill School for the Deaf, I felt this was the right choice. He wasn’t developing speech and seemed to prefer British Sign Language (BSL) so it made sense for him to be in a BSL environment. I was worried about moving him but I had to put his long-term needs first.

I needn’t have worried. From the first day Joshua was completely comfortable. He is with people who are like him and is part of a group. He absolutely loves it there and has a spring in his step!

His communication is improving dramatically – BSL gives him more possibilities. Yesterday he told me he’d fallen over at school and got grass all over his clothes. He showed me how he’d fallen and then brushed himself down – he wouldn’t be able to tell me this without BSL.

His spoken vocabulary is improving too – I hear him trying to say words and getting the right sounds.

"How can you have a child learning a language that their parents can’t speak?"

The school provides free BSL classes for parents so we can learn the same signs as our children. This is so sensible – how can you have a child learning a language that their parents can’t speak? Although I have been learning BSL for a few years it is very helpful to learn the same as Joshua. The gap in our communication is being bridged.

While this is the right option for Joshua for now, I would consider him going to a mainstream school later on if his speech develops.

Joshua has come so far so quickly and I have realised I should never put limits on what he can achieve.”