Each year since Nichole was in pre-school, I have given a presentation to her teachers describing her hearing loss and her need for them to use the FM transmitter. This includes a demonstration of them listening through her hearing aid as I move around a classroom, with and without the FM activated. When Nichole hit high school, the administrators requested that I come in at the end of the school year to "pre-brief" her teachers for the following year. I have it down to a well orchestrated PowerPoint presentation which walks the teachers through a hearing overview, where Nichole's hearing resides with respect to environmental sounds, and the importance of the FM.
Two weeks before this year's meeting, I told Nichole that she would have to give the presentation. She is going to be a high school senior this fall, so this is her chance to get comfortable with talking to her teachers as a self advocate. For those who don't know her, Nichole is quite shy in these type of situations. The night before the meeting, she gave us a dry run. It was horrendous! She was mumbling, avoiding eye contact, leaving out any background information. We were considering not having her give the talk out of fear she would prejudice her teachers against her! But we forced ourselves to "let go" of the reins (tough thing to do as involved parents).
Nichole, my wife and I got to the meeting room a bit early and got the laptop set up with the school projector. As the "new" teachers arrived, Nichole gave them each a hard copy of the presentation. Once they were all seated, she started her presentation. Oh My God. She was awesome!!! She spoke with volume, authority and confidence. She made eye contact with all the teachers. She introduced herself, explained why she was talking to them, then walked them through the presentation flawlessly. She answered questions from her teachers in a comfortable manner throughout the talk. We were so proud of her. This was the Nichole we only dreamed she might become when we put that shy little girl on the bus to first grade 11 year ago. I wish I had hidden a video camera in the room in order to capture her presentation!
When Nichole finished her talk, she asked for any additional questions. Her chemistry teacher for next year said that he had an observation. He said that he was quite impressed that she was brave enough to stand before a group of new (to her) teachers and give such a good presentation. He said that it was obvious that she was comfortable talking with new people (yahoo!), and that he was impressed with her; that she seemed to be a fine young lady and he looked forward to having her in his class.
While I know I will miss her in a year and a half when Nichole goes away to college, the fact that she rose to the occasion and advocated for herself so eloquently helps allay one of our concerns for her secondary education. Go Nichole!!!