My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
My only child became profoundly deaf in both ears at age 14 months after contracting bacterial meningitis. Taylor, who is now 8, attended DePaul School for Hearing and Speech in Pittsburgh, PA, between the ages of 18 months and 5 years. Taylor received simultaneous bi-lateral cochlear implants at 16 months and attended DePaul to learn how to listen and speak with her implants. She "mainstreamed" into our local school district in Kindergarten and is now in third grade. Taylor is doing fantastic and participates right alongside her typically hearing peers in school and extracurricular activities.
DePaul's program teaches deaf children the skills they need to succeed in the hearing and speaking world, without sign language. Through the grace of God, advanced technology, dedicated health care professionals, and the gifted teachers at DePaul, Taylor has learned to communicate using spoken language. Many people don't even realize she's deaf. You can hear Taylor speak at (http://speakmiracles.org/ihaveavoice2012/portfolio/taylor/).
There are fewer than 60 schools like DePaul -- known as Option Schools -- throughout the entire world. Families have moved to Pittsburgh from other states and other continents just to attend DePaul. The curriculum at DePaul is rigorous and the results are nothing short of miraculous. The school involves the entire family in the student's education, and offers programs, seminars, workshops, and support groups for parents, siblings, grandparents, and caregivers. DePaul's support continues after a student mainstreams as well, through assistance with IEPs, troubleshooting, evaluations, and recommendations, should any issues arise.
DePaul's goal is to prepare students for a life outside its walls. It encourages students to become active in their communities and teaches them self-advocacy skills should they require a little extra help. Most all students who attend DePaul's infant and toddler program and preschool mainstream into their neighborhood school districts during their early elementary years -- often by second grade. This means they're able to attend school with their friends, neighbors and siblings, and can participate in sports, scouting, community, and extracurricular activities as they choose. DePaul students are bright, articulate, confident, and independent. They have options and opportunities because of their ability to listen and speak. We are so blessed to have a program like DePaul's right here in Pittsburgh. My husband and I thank God every day for the tremendous gift DePaul has given us: a voice for our child.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Ensure that all parents of deaf children in Pennsylvania and elsewhere know about DePaul. Parents should have access to all educational options for deaf children so that they can make an informed decision about the best program for their child. A child's brain has the greatest capacity to learn through the first six years of life. I would encourage parents to get information as soon as possible and explore their options. Timing is so critical to a child's success in a spoken language program.
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