Woman in red shirt at a table with two lapotops.By Special Services Coordinator Carrie Jackiewicz

Self-Advocacy skills are vital to a child’s success in the mainstream classroom and beyond.  Our alumni must have the ability to identify communication breakdowns and have a variety of repair strategies they know how to use in order to repair those breakdowns.  While some students may be less outgoing and less likely to ask for help, the majority of our students do ask for help in the mainstream.  Our alumni must have the ability to explain their hearing devices and their hearing loss when their peers ask questions.  Our alumni must also understand the importance of where to sit in a classroom so they can hear the best.  They must also know how to best follow a conversation as it moves around the room.

At Child’s Voice, the students are exposed to and directly taught these important self-advocacy skills in order to prepare them for the mainstream.  These skills are taught in two ways: 1) in a weekly, structured Self-Advocacy class taught to a small group of PII students (ages 4 to 8) and 2) throughout each day as the needs arise.

Each year we ask mainstream teachers to rate our alumni on their use of repair strategies and other self-advocacy skills.  The teachers rate the students in the fall and spring in order to document growth throughout the year.   This year we received fall results from about a third of our students in the mainstream.  The results show that the majority of our alumni (67%) are using these skills spontaneously with their teacher in their mainstream settings.

Some of the results are lower than what we would expect and the changes in school setting due to COVID-19 may have affected those results.  Only 42% of the students were rated as using repair strategies with their peers.  It should be noted that 11 of the 13 students are in remote or hybrid learning.  Students are not interacting with each other as much over videoconferencing.  Students who are in person are also not interacting or doing as much group work as they typically would due to COVID precautions.  The teachers rated 43% of the students as spontaneously reporting issues with their hearing devices.  Again, most of those students are in remote or hybrid learning, so they are most likely reporting issues to their parents rather than the teacher.  Overall these results are an interesting picture of what is happening this year and we look forward to seeing how these scores improve in the spring.

Mainstream Support

This year, the majority of our alumni are in remote or hybrid learning due to COVID-19.  Mainstream Support and mainstream observations have looked a little different than in the past.  This year, 2 observations were held in person and 15 observations have been held over videoconferencing.  Of those held over videoconferencing, 2 of them were where the students were in-person and the observer joined the classroom remotely.