Saturday, July 26, 2008

One way or another. Or somewhere between the two.

There is great debate. To sign or not to sign. And then, which method? ASL? SEE? Emmi's first doctor and audiology team pretty much threatened my life if I taught Emmi to sign. They insisted it would inhibit her language development if she relied on sign. It was ridiculous to assume I would not teach her any sign. There was six months between the time we found out she was profoundly deaf and her first surgery. I was supposed to not talk to my almost two year old for six months? Besides it went against everything I knew. Statistic after statistic linked early language development with children who were taught to sign. They brushed it off, claiming that was for children with normal hearing. I, being me, ignored them, taught Emmi some basics signs, and prayed she would not give me away during any of our appointments. After moving to Houston, the experience was different.

Her new team seemed indifferent to my decision. Emmi attended more private speech therapy and school therapy than most of the children they saw. I was pushing the oral skills. I was doing my job. They gave little thought to whether or not I signed with Emmi. After Emmi's verbal skills picked up, the signing dropped off a bit. I let it be her decision. The basics stuck around. I assumed there would be a time when Emmi remembered very little sign. I assumed wrong.

Emmi has always remained drawn to sign. When I thought at first that it would eventually loose its hold on her as she gained oral language, I soon realized there were large gaps when the implants where ineffective. Bathing. Swimming. Periods of ear infections and equipment malfunctions. Playing in the rain. While Emmi has started talking in full sentences, she has also had a peak in interest in sign again. I can only conclude that she has figured out the joy and benefit of communication, and she is anxious to explore all the different means.


Anonymous said...

I get so ticked off about this debate. I don't think professionals have any business telling us not to sign with our deaf children. If other parents choose not to, that is fine with me. Just don't tell me what to do with my kid.

What we've seen is pretty clear evidence that sign has lead to speech. I'm so glad you didn't listen to those fools.

I am Trish Marie said...

The first words she spoke were the words she knew the signs of. As in the first twenty or so words. If that isn't proof, I don't know what is. Even now, she will miss articles or transpose sentence order, unless she signs it as well. Signing has definitely helped. Over the past few days, we have really picked back up on the lessons. We have some dvds that have been great.

Sheri said...

I find it so interesting that baby signs are being pushed for hearing children with all this emphasis that it will not inhibit oral communication. I can't imagine it being any different for a child with implants. The drive to communicate by any means they can is so strong.

I think it is great that she has different options to choice how to most effectively get her point across. A prime example would be her recital. And really, we use signs when necessary to most effectively get our point across, too. It's called flipping the bird. LOL

I am glad you trusted your gut and ignored the "experts". You are giving Emmi the chance to succeed in communication in all kinds of different situations.

Karen said...

The communicate debate is always a tough one to navigate as a parent. The bottom line is always this--how can one get 100% communication access going with our kids? Then find ways to get that communication set up. What good is anything if there's limited language behind it.