Caroline can hear, but she cannot speak, and at the age of 11, she had virtually no ability to communicate. She was limited to pointing, nodding, and shaking her head. She would often cry suddenly, and her teachers didn't know why.
When Caroline was little, her grandmother wanted her to learn American Sign Language (ASL), and taught her a few words from a book, but the school district refused to support Caroline learning ASL. According to the school system, Caroline was severely cognitively impaired, but because she wasn’t deaf, they denied her entry to an existing program that taught ASL. It turns out Caroline’s IQ was higher than the school district thought – her teachers just couldn't measure it accurately because she couldn't communicate. So for nine years, Caroline was left sitting in a classroom where she could not communicate with other students or ask questions of her teachers.
Her grandmother came to LAF for help. We got a private sign language tutor for Caroline, and she began learning ASL to communicate. But the school district still left Caroline in a classroom where almost nobody else could sign, so she was as alone as ever. LAF then filed a second claim against the school district, seeking to place Caroline in an out-of-district school that provides sign language instruction and support to students who are both hearing and hearing-impaired. Our efforts finally prevailed – the district agreed to the placement, and Caroline now has peers and teachers who can understand what she’s saying. She is thriving.