Integration

D. is leaving. Next year, Lilia’s clasmate D. will integrate into a regular public school. So while once there were six, in the spring, there will only be three – and one of them is autistic and doesn’t spend much time with the others.

I am happy for D., and I think it’s the right thing for him. He is bright and uses his cochlear implant well. He hardly uses sign language at all anymore, and speaks very intelligibly. Plus, he can read and he’s good at art. One of his paintings won first prize a couple years back in a national competition of deaf school students. Of late, he has been show-offy and disruptive, writing math problems in kanji, for example. Clearly he needs more of a challenge. Some kids at his new school may wonder about his apparatus, and he may have a hard time keeping up with conversations, but I think he’ll be fine.

I wish Lilia could integrate, too. In the past, I thought that the deaf school – a place where her first language, JSL, is the predominant form of communication – was the best place for her. Also, I would worry about bullies if she was in public school. But with everyone leaving, it just gets lonelier and lonelier. And while I don’t want my daughter to be the sacrificial lamb, I don’t think that Japanese people will learn to be truly accepting of the disabled unless they go to the same schools.

Unfortunately, I don’t even think it’s an option. D. is going to a school with a “deaf track,” but the teacher who helps the deaf kids has no training in special education and doesn’t know sign language. A principal at another school with a “deaf track” said that deaf children could only attend his school if they could communicate verbally.

For awhile, at least, Lilia will stay where she is.

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3 thoughts on “Integration

  1. *sigh* – it’s got to be so frustrating sometimes. I knew a woman in Tottori who was an elementary school teacher, and when I last talked with her she was excited about being transferred to the deaf school out there – but she also had no specialized training and was pretty much flying by the seat of her pants. I know there are some enclaves of Japanese disabled folks who are trying to make a difference, but language and geography can get in the way of hooking up with them.

    M. was also in a school for the handicapped when he was in elementary school, and it drove him nuts. According to him, the teachers (except for one he seems to remember pretty fondly) never expected much from the students and he felt like he really stagnated there. When he did go to an integrated school, it was more by accident – they moved and he just started going, and a couple of years later he was told that he’d been approved to transfer to a regular school.

    Hang in there – the Japanese approach to disability (cover ears, sing loudly, pretend it’s not there) can be really irritating sometimes.

  2. Wow, the ‘deaf track’ teacher doesn’t have any special ed background or know sign language. The mind boggles. (Similar to, but much worse than, the people at immigration and City Hall in charge of alien reg. and the like not knowing any foreign languages. Wouldn’t you think that would be a prerequisite to the job??)

    Regarding integration, are any private school options? I taught a few girls in jr. and sr. high who had switched from handicapped schools to that private school after grade 6. One of the girls was fairly deaf. She was planning to be a sign language interpreter. I wonder whatever happened to her…

    One of the boys in my son’s class is handicapped. I think it’s probably a type of cerebral palsy and he’s also affected mentally to a certain extent. I think he’s quite well looked after by everyone in the class although there may be many things that go on that I don’t know about. He also has a twin who is in the handicapped school. No doubt his mother must face a lot of the same type of issues as you do.

    Good luck to you, Gaijin Mama.

  3. At the school D. will attend, there are also several foreign children who are sometimes taught separately. I’d bet money that their teacher is not trained to teach Japanese as a second language.

    For the record, Lilia’s home room teacher does have a degree in deaf education. She may actually have a master’s degree. Her teacher last year had a master’s degree as well, and she was great.

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