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From:  Dawn McReynolds
Date:  Wed Feb 23, 2000  4:22 pm
Subject:  Re: Shall We Introduce Ourselves Again? ;-)

Hello all,
My name is Dawn McReynolds, I have a beautiful 13 year old daughter named Nicole.   Nicole is Deaf and was attending public school here in Michigan. I felt that Nicole was slipping through the cracks of the public school system.  I quit my full time job as a CMT (Consumer Medicaid Trainer) and homeschooled her myself.  As a CMT (training disabled adults in community living skills) I didn't not have formal educational training to teach her at home.  I researched and went to support group meetings to see how others did it, although there were no parents of Deaf children in my area at these homeschooling meetings. I thought it would be nearly the same as the other parents.
When I started to try to teach her. I was stuck, there were parts of the English Language she just couldn't understand.  She was in sixth grade and really didn't know what those words she was reading meant.  I didn't know what to do.  Should I keep trying to teach them to her over and over again until she finally gets it?  I tried many different ways, to teach her.  I was getting frustrated and so was Nicole.  I had to go into prayer about it once I did that my frustration was gone but I still had the problem. Then  it came to me, no doubt because of my prayers, I started holding up pictures (cue cards) with words on them. I was trying to teach her anyway I could think of.  Suddenly there was a connection.
I was stunned to realize after eight years in school; she had no working knowledge of what words really meant.  I introduced to her several pictures of  things with out the words present.  She would know what it was.
Then I would introduce the written word for it without a picture, she did not know what it meant.  I was astounded. 
How did she go through school knowing how to spell words therefore reading words. BUT not truly know what they meant. 
I was also devastated, HOW COULD I HAVE NOT KNOWN THIS.  As I went on with discovering where Nicole really was in school and how much help she really needed I felt overwhelmed and began to question my ability to teach her.  There were days when we were running through the house and I would grab the lunch meat and show her this, this is lunch meat. For a long time we had index cards with drawn pictures (the best I could do; lol) with matching words on our lamps and T.V. on our desks and tables and chairs and walls and oven and sink and bath tub.  people would walk in our house and just and look around with confusion on their face.  I would just laugh and say were learning what words really mean.
One day we sat down and watched television, here in Michigan we have a station that focuses on the Deaf.  At a certain time during the day you can see the news told by Deaf and so on.  While we were watching this station, on came Sign Writing.  I couldn't believe my eyes. That was the answer.
Symbols to make words come alive for the Deaf, they can read their own Sign Language on paper.  That's it.
It was the answer indeed.  When I pulled Nicole from the 6th grade.She was functioning well below 3rd grade level.  I was told by several educators that was expected and not to worry.
Over a year later she has moved up Two grade levels. I attribute that growth of learning mostly from Sign Writing!!
I am so proud of Nicole and the work she has done in the last year.  I wouldn't change a thing about the struggles we encountered along the way to get here.
Sign Writing for Nicole and I became; sort of a lifeline, it gave me a opportunity to bridge a gap that was causing knowledge to be lost.  Sign Writing became the missing link between my Written Language and  Nicole's Signed Language.  We are currently trying to get through the first set of materials so we can move on.  For us this is somewhat a slow process; because I must know Nicole is retaining the information she is learning; before I move on. 
She is... Nicole is almost ready for the next packet.  Hope you all check out some of our recorded experiences on our site.  They will be sent to Val sometime in late March.
This is my personal story;
Nicole's experience is not typical of public schools; 
 Dawn McReynolds

  Replies Author Date
2916 Dawn's Important Message ..... Valerie Sutton Sat  2/26/2000

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