- Monterey County Office of EducationSpecial Ed Administrator
Monterey County Office of Education: Allow our son Elijah to be in a special ed classroom where the teacher is proficient in ASL to help him learn
Elijah is a 6 year old boy who has Autism. He was born with Epilepsy which caused severe developmental delays. When the seizures stopped about age 4, Elijah began to learn and started showing interest in just about everything. His intellectual development improved dramatically, but his speech has not improved. Elijah can vocalize sounds, but he is unable to speak any words at this time. My wife and I have taught Elijah almost 300 signs in ASL (American Sign Language) and will continue to teach him many more. Elijah has memorized the signs, the function of the signs and when to apply them. Elijah uses sign language for everything just like we use speech for everything. Sign Language is Elijah's means for communication. My wife and I have taken college sign language courses, my oldest son is already registered to take high school sign language and we as a family go to many deaf community events. We support the deaf community and are eager to learn ASL. The Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE) choose not to support Elijah's necessity for ASL instruction because he is a hearing student and push for him to talk to communicate. Other programs such as the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center in Salinas or the Toro Park School for the Deaf are unable to help Elijah because he is not deaf. My son is a unique boy who is just waiting for the chance to be accepted.
"You don't have to do anything just to be accepted"
- Special Ed Administrator
Monterey County Office of Education
We ask that you allow our Autistic son Elijah to be in a regular special educational classroom where he could be taught according to his Individualized Educational Plan and also be instructed in ASL so he can blossom to his full potential. As you know, he is hearing and does not speak any words. In his current classroom setting, Elijah tends to isolate himself from his peers and teachers because he is unable to communicate with them. As parents, this has always been a concern, so we took ASL college courses a few years ago hoping Elijah would benefit from it and learn to express himself. Last year, Elijah only knew about 40 ASL words which was good enough to get him through his daily routine because his basic needs were being met. Currently, Elijah has learned about 300 signs and continues to show interest in American Sign Language (ASL) commonly used by the deaf community. If Elijah was to be put in such a classroom and with such a teacher, the teacher and students would all be able to communicate and express themselves with Elijah and vice versa. Elijah would be happy because he would be in an environment he can relate to and maybe not be so internally isolated. This is the obvious educational environment for Elijah also known as the Least Restrictive Environment or LRE. It is unjust and unfair to him that he remain in a classroom setting where he can never advance in the language he knows and that's ASL. Being a part of an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team usually means that you advocate for the special needs student in question. Although this is a know fact, we just ask that you continue to advocate for our son Elijah. He deserves the opportunity to learn and flourish as much as he possibly could just like any other typical or special ed student. We thank you for your time and understanding.
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