Bridging the Gap
CSD of SD: Bridging the Gap
Are you a parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child that is struggling socially, academically, or emotionally? You’re not alone. Deaf or hard of hearing children can face a unique set of challenges that often begin with delayed language acquisition because their communication needs are different and oftentimes aren’t being met. It is common for parents to have limited access to resources and information beyond the recommendations of non-deaf individuals such as medical or audiology professionals.
But I don’t know any deaf individuals. What do I do?
Many states have organizations that provide services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals and their families. CSD of South Dakota is one such organization. Staffed primarily by deaf individuals, CSD of South Dakota provides services that aim to fill the communication, social, academic and emotional gaps between parents, schools and children.
“Our services are for all ages, and in the case of younger individuals, we start off with basic sign language support for parents needing to learn. We also work with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to support language acquisition and an understanding of deaf culture,” said Katie Peterson, State Programs Director. “As students start school, we continue to provide mentoring opportunities and support to parents as they create IEPs so they have an awareness of the rights and opportunities for their child.”
The impact these organizations and programs have can be life-changing. They can improve your child’s relationship with you, their peers and even their teachers. This is especially important when it comes to finding the best mode of communication as that will ensure that they have equal access to the same information as their hearing counterparts.
Bridging the Gap Through Collaborative Solutions
CSD of South Dakota’s Community Support program aims to solve these problems by providing parents and students with resources covering:
- Working with deaf and hard of hearing children at home and school
- Deaf culture
- Free American Sign Language classes for families
- Support with schools and parents to ensure their children receive proper education and communication
- Peer support to help students learn how to adjust to living in the hearing and/or deaf world
- Accepting their identity as a deaf or hard of hearing person and building self-esteem
- And so much more.
CSD of South Dakota Social Event
One of their clients, the mother of a young man named Trey, said this of her interaction with the Community Support Program:
“A year ago, my son was in 6th grade with a 3rd-grade reading level (sadly I didn’t know it was that bad). I had met another parent many years ago who was signing with her daughter and thought nope, my son has implants he can hear everything (how misguided I was). Through her, we met Tanya, who is now family! Tanya is an interpreter (for another student at school) and has shown us a whole new world! Without her, none of this would be possible.”
“She introduced us to Mark from CSD. He has shown me how to advocate for my son and helped me understand all of Trey’s needs!”
She introduced us to Mark from CSD. He has shown me how to advocate for my son and helped me understand all of Trey’s needs! He has been my backbone on fighting a school district that was so lost and believed that since Trey was deaf, he was delayed and would never succeed.
We started taking ASL classes that Tanya taught and I saw a new Trey; he was no longer struggling, no longer so exhausted at 5 o clock, he had energy and there was no longer hearing from him, “What did you say?” or “huh?” Mark then put me in contact with Teresa at Parent Connections, and she was amazing at knowing the direction we needed to go! She got us in contact with Paula who knows the ins and outs of what a school needs to provide.
It was HELL fighting for my son. So many meetings, so many times we were told no for simple requests like an ASL interpreter. I don’t know how many times I would call Tanya and cry. She helped me on a personal level stay calm and collected almost like a guardian angel! We are so fortunate that everyone that has advocated for Trey has become the family that we needed!
Trey next to a K’NEX sculpture
We finally got the pieces put together and I’m proud to say that every tear shed, every sleepless night, every battle we went through fighting for Trey’s rights is starting to pay off! His grades are coming up and the teachers are seeing a bright intelligent kid! He now has access to what is being said and is soaring!
Instead of being told he can’t it is now HE CAN! He will succeed! He will go to college and he will never be told he can’t! It has been a hard battle, but with help from some amazing advocates, we have been able to change Trey’s future for the better!
I don’t live in South Dakota, where can I find a program in my state?
The good news is that there are many organizations doing similar work across America. Check out Galluadet University’s list of state-by-state resources here.
If you can’t find an organization or program in your area, you might find some of our other resources beneficial. We offer a wide range of free community resources online in English and ASL. Visit CSD Neighborhood, your one-stop shop for the education, career and advocacy resources for deaf and hard of hearing individuals and their families.