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.