INTERESTING BLIND AND DEAF COMBO
When Jessica left home to live at school, one of the things she was most excited about was making friends and having a roommate. On move in day, we met ‘Sally’ who was very nice, talkative, and seemed happy to have Jessica as a roommate. She asked a lot of questions, and wanted to take pictures of us with her camera. From time to time, we would visit with Sally when we were there dropping Jess off or picking her up for the weekend. When we would call to talk to Jess, Sally occasionally wanted to speak to us too.
Imagine our surprise when we went back to the cottage after Spring Break and Sally was no longer Jessica’s roommate. We found out that the change had been requested by Sally, who was bothered by Jessica’s constant talking, singing and music playing. Jessica did not understand what had happened and was sad about it. For the time being, Jessica did not have a roommate. We continued to occasionally see Sally during visits and there were no hard feelings.
A short time later, we got the news that Jess was going to get a new roommate (I will call her Cathy.) Cathy was a little bit older than Jess (19 or 20) and her primary disability was a hearing impairment. She was deaf and did not speak.
At first we were skeptical of the new change. Jessica had wanted to make friends and have a roommate, and now they had paired her up with someone with whom Jessica would not be able to communicate. Nor would Cathy be able to talk to Jessica. The only time they could communicate was when a house parent was in the room with them to interpret.
It did not take us long to change our opinion of the new situation. Even we had to admit that it was an ideal solution since Jess never-never ever stopped talking to herself. Jessica grew fond of Cathy, who was able to keep an eye on Jess and get assistance for her if needed. Cathy liked rooming with Jess too. Jess still has a t-shirt that she sleeps in sometimes that was given to her by Cathy.
A year later (spring 2005) we learned from Jessica that Cathy had been absent from school that week. Then, absent again the next week. Then again. Jessica started getting emotional about the situation. Her security and stability had been shaken. Soon, we learned that Cathy had been critically ill and at times they were not sure if she was going to make it.
Jessica began to get homesick. Each week she had a more difficult time going back to school at the end of the weekend. When Jessica heard that Cathy might not come back to school for the rest of the year, Jessica wanted to be finished too. We started discussions about moving her back to our local school system.
Before the school year was finished, it was determined that Cathy would probably be back at school for the following school year. We gave Jess the option to change her mind about returning for Fall 2005 semester. However, by that time it was a done deal. She was severely homesick and ready to move back home. The school year was nearly over, so we had her finish the year there.
Her desire to move far-far away and be independent had been, at least temporarily, fulfilled. She had made some minor progress with self-help skills, she had made a few friends, she had spent a full year with a teacher that she loved, and she had learned to read and type beginner Braille.
On the last day of school, we happily packed Jess up to move her home for good. It was a great feeling. We were so glad to have her back in the nest.
The time was coming to start the next adventure. But, would there be another adventure out there? The family felt as though we had finally explored all options, had tried everything, and had experienced the whole gamut of educators. We had not found a secret key to unlock the brilliance. Jessica would turn 18 during that summer. Academic days would be behind us. Our fight was gone, and we were resigned to letting Jess finish out her school years doing whatever was offered.