Autumn Carpenter (9) who lives in Huddersfield and is profoundly deaf, is a pupil at Doncaster School for the Deaf. In our latest parent voice blog, Ben, Autumn’s dad, explains how her confidence has soared since joining the school.
Autumn is profoundly deaf, and she communicates using BSL (British Sign Language). She started off in mainstream schools with a deaf provision. But I just felt it was an ongoing battle to be fully inclusive. There was the constant struggle of an expectation to meet mainstream levels.
When you are a profoundly deaf person, it must be a very strange experience. She was trying her best to cope with the mainstream academic programme and at the same time trying to understand who she is and where she fits in.
I always knew of Doncaster School for the Deaf, but I wanted her to try mainstream school first. But it hasn’t worked for her.
She started at Doncaster School for the Deaf in February. When we moved school, I was expecting to have a battle on my hands but there really wasn’t. She absolutely loves it and it’s been amazing.
I don’t know where to start with how much she’s changed. She’s just got this real confidence. She’s a lot happier, she’s made meaningful relationships with other students and that in turn has given her a massive confidence boost.
At her old school she would switch off and wouldn’t tell me what she’d done each day. It was almost like going to school was a chore. Whereas now she’s fighting to get up to go to school.
What I wanted for her, and what Doncaster School for the Deaf offers, is for her to be fully immersed within the deaf community and culture. Everyone has a high level of BSL and it’s given her a sense of identity that she isn’t just a 9-year-old girl, she’s a 9-year-old girl who’s part of the deaf community. Its promoting deaf identity and the encouragement and enrichment at the school is second to none.
Because they are a deaf community there is no fear of being misinterpreted. It’s allowed Autumn to settle in a calm environment and really let her personality blossom and shine. The difference in her is just outstanding.
I’ve adopted six children, all with additional and complex needs. All my children started at mainstream schools and it became apparent the mainstream could not cope with anything that is too complex. Making a move to a specialist provision is sometimes in the child’s best interest to allow them to grow and flourish.
Doncaster School for the Deaf is a specialist school and Autumn receives a tailored learning package she wouldn’t get in a mainstream school. Already in two months I can see she’s not just a number, she’s part of a community and a family there.
From the bottom of my heart, I feel that I 100 per cent made the right choice in sending her to Doncaster School for the Deaf.