Tuesday, February 22, 2005

ian's speech delay

i've hinted a little about how ian is, shall we say, slow at speaking.

last friday, sue took him to the local school district for a speech evaluation. i didn't go, having to work, but i'll go for the official results on friday march 2.

apparently he didn't say anything. at. all. not a single syllable.

our little chatterbox, who babbles incessantly and imitates the television (and mommy and daddy and everything else), remains something like a year behind in terms of speech development. at home we see him picking up new words periodically, and while he doesn't string them into coherent ideas very often yet, he can clearly label some objects and follow single-step instructions. he can also sort objects by color (placing all the red pegs together, all the yellow pegs, together, etc.), and sue told me yesterday that he's getting into multi-word phrases.

sue expressed a fear that i agree with: we think it's likely that the school district will recommend placing him in a special ed class. they may suggest that he be put in class as much as five days a week (taking him out of his current preschool, something we are unwilling to do for a variety of reasons). if he lands in a special ed class, chances are very good he'll wind up with some learning disability label in the public school system.

i think that over the long term, ian won't have any lasting problems. i also believe that we need to help him now to make up the deficit he has, but there may be a variety of ways to do that. and given what i think of our public school system, i'm not sure they're the ones to help him.

one of my fears is that ian will be "held back" a year, and will wind up in the same grade as the twins. ian is 14 months older than they are; as they get older, the age difference will become more pronounced and more of a social problem.

we can't take him out of his current preschool. first, he loves it. second, we love it. third, even if we did, we'd still have to pay for the rest of the year, and at $200/mo, 'tain't cheap.

our fears about the special-ed class are several, and they are quite real.

first, we worry about the label thing. those labels have a tendency to stick, and they can hurt. what he needs is activity and therapy, and we're trying to give him that within the limits of our logistics and budget.

second, we worry about the other students. we think that he needs to be placed with other kids who speak, so that he has kids against whom he can compete, and whom he can imitate. if he's placed in a class full of kids with speech disabilities, we're afraid that he'll learn to imitate speech impediments. that isn't what we want.

third, i'm concerned about the quality of the education in general. i honestly don't believe that, given current public priorities on testing and "achievement" and "progress," my children will be well-served in terms of their education. i believe very firmly that, as testing becomes a more and more important measure by which funding is doled out, day-to-day cirriculum will more and more come to reflect the test ("teaching to the test"), rather than reflect important things my children should learn.

private education is an option, but it's much more expensive. but assuming we could work out the money, it's a superior option. because private schools aren't driven nearly so much by test-mania, they do not have the same trouble with teaching to the exam, and can spend more time on real learning.

i find home-schooling to be the best option. with it, we control; we test; we run the show; and aren't answerable to anyone for our children's education (at least in texas). we can arrange to have our children tested using standardized tests if we wish, but it isn't required. (i would anticipate that we would choose to do so, as a protection against charges of truancy as much as for diagnosis.)

and even using a prepared cirriculum (like calvert) it's much cheaper than private school. the pre-k stuff runs less than $300/child, and the k stuff runs less than $400/child. even the 8th grade level, with all the bells and whistles, runs just $1000 per child. that includes the ability to call them and have them grade your kid's work.

in addition, the texas cirriculua are public materials. we can use the texas learning objectives as a guide, and supplement where we think supplementation is warranted (and that will be plenty of places).

sue has, in the past, expressed the feeling that public school is "the way to go." given ian's current circumstance, i believe even more firmly that she's wrong.

[and yes, i'm willing to bet money i can get into mensa.]

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