Monday, May 27, 2013

A graduate?! Already?

Yes, folks - it's true. On Friday, Sophie GRADUATED from the Moog Center for Deaf Education. Quite an accomplishment for a profoundly deaf child who just recently turned three years old. While we are over-the-moon excited, happy, and proud, it was also a sad day to close this chapter of our journey.

I'll never forget my first conversation with the director of the Moog Center. She contacted me just two days after we learned that Sophie is deaf. I was still grieving - in a mixed state of panic, confusion, and shock. What I remember most about our conversation is that she was so incredibly confident that Sophie would be okay.  She gave me the straight-forward facts about hearing loss and the potential causes, summarized the cochlear implant process and timeline, and told me about their intensive oral program. At one point, I remember her matter-of-factly saying, "Oh yeah, there is a great chance Sophie can be mainstreamed by kindergarten." That statement gave me instant hope and was the very faint glimmer of light that I needed to snap out of my sad, gloomy haze and take action. Up until that point, when I envisioned Sophie's future, I could only think of a world of special education, interpreters, and limitations. I had already researched a bit about cochlear implants, but I was still naive and ignorant to what a diagnosis of profound hearing loss meant for Sophie.

The next day was our first visit to the Moog Center. It was surreal. As we pushed our tiny baby girl through the halls and classrooms in her stroller, I remember thinking, "Wow, they really weren't kidding. These kids can talk!" But that wasn't even the best part of the visit. After being scared, helpless, and overwhelmed, I just felt normal while we were there. It was as though the hurricane had stopped pounding and the debris was starting to settle all around me. Like I could envision a new path and future that I so recently was unsure of.

After our visit, I was pretty much sold. We visited another oral school in the St. Louis area as well, but there was no comparison to the feelings of hope and support that the Moog Center gave us. In the past three years, this amazing school has been by our side constantly - providing encouragement and support every step along the way. The staff, audiologists, and teachers are more to us than the professionals that have guided Sophie's success, they are forever a part of her journey and our family.

So here we are now, saying goodbye. Obviously, this transition is happening much sooner than we anticipated and I still cannot believe Sophie is being mainstreamed two years earlier than our original goal. While I'm nervous and anxious, I'm confident that Sophie's time at Moog has equipped her for a regular classroom on a full time basis. She is such a bright girl and has amazed us each and every step of the way so far. At this point, I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us. ;)

How fast her time at Moog has gone by:

First day of Moog - 17 months old

Last day of Moog - 3 years old

Here are a few more pictures of Sophie's big day:

Singing with her class

All alone on stage - brave girl!

Sophie and the other graduates

We love Moog!

Such a bittersweet day

The first of many amazing achievements for this girl

My dad also filmed Sophie being "interviewed" during graduation. All of the children leaving the Moog Center take the stage to tell their story and this is always a very emotional part of the program, as many families have moved across the country and completely started new lives to attend school here. Obviously, Sophie is a little young to be able to share her story, but she took the stage and it was pretty cute. I could tell she was nervous and I was quite surprised she spoke at all in front of that many people!

Let's hope that habit of pulling up her dress when nervous doesn't continue for too long! ;)

Anyway, we are on to a new chapter soon. We are so proud and can't wait to see what preschool holds for Sophie. Although we are sad to be leaving Moog, everyone there assures us that she is ready and will do great. Here's to new adventures!

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