Our son was adopted internationally as a preschooler. He is hard of hearing and had no intervention until age four, so his receptive language development was significantly delayed. His expressive language is further complicated by a cleft palate. Immediately upon meeting him, we began using sign language, a communication tool that carried its challenges for him due to another disability, radial dysplasia, or a clubbed arm.

A few months after coming home, he had a hearing aid, a surgery to repair his cleft, and began attending a preschool for deaf and hard-of-hearing children. At the end of the school year, it was clear he was not ready for kindergarten, but the state could not keep him in the preschool program. His preschool teachers believed he would not thrive in the deaf/hoh elementary program because speech, although impaired, was his preferred way of communication because of his frustration by the inability to properly sign with only one typical arm and hand.

With his ESA, we have been able to hire an occupational therapist to tutor him in his core subjects.

Our local public school held an IEP meeting and determined to place him in a self-contained special education classroom — a classroom where no other student was verbal and the vast majority of students exhibited behaviors we had worked so hard to diminish after his years in the orphanage. It was clear that homeschooling would be our best option. With his ESA, we have been able to hire an occupational therapist to tutor him in his core subjects. Although he is delayed far behind his peers, he is making great progress. He can participate in therapeutic extracurriculars that help his sensory disorder, anxiety, and impulsivity.

Every child is unique, and although the expertise of educational professionals gives great insights, parents usually know best the type of environment in which their child will thrive. School choice gives parents freedom to explore options outside the boundary of the housing they can afford, providing more equal opportunities and breaking cycles of poverty. The social and emotional needs of the child can be considered in the family’s chosen setting, positively impacting their academic performance and increasing the likelihood of positive outcomes in their decisions into adulthood.

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