Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sign Language Success! Guest Post from one of our Winner of Giving Thanks Week

Sign Language To the Rescue!

Read this great story how sign language helped this grateful family (she was also one of the winners to our Giving Thanks Week during Thanksgiving).

            Sign Language has played a substantially important role in my family's life. Our daughter Iliana, who is now 7 years old, was born with several disabilities. I remember when she was 3, she was still not picking up speech; her four words were "Dada, Momma, night, & bye bye". We tried everything from speech-language pathology at the hospital to OT and Speech classes several days a week at home, but to no avail. We attributed this learning/speech delay to her extensive brain damages previous to birth. At that age of 3, she also received her tracheostomy tube and it was the last time I ever heard any of those four words from her again. You can imagine the devastation we felt even if it was only four words. 

             However, one day my sister mentioned teaching her some simple signs and that she may even learn to communicate back with us. This opened up new opportunities for our family. 

             Iliana is now signing single words - a word to describe what she wants to do or what she would like (for example, her toy phone).  She knows many basic signs! I know the frustration that parents and children who can't speak feel, when communication between each other is just not there. Your child wants something but doesn't know how to communicate it, leaving us to guess. Daily life can be dramatically improved starting with just basic signing. The signs for milk or eat, play, happy, sad, hurt, and etc. has helped us greatly!

            Now that Iliana is a little older she is able to ask me for things. She has to sign things in the room that she sees, instead of crying and pointing. This really makes me so happy, and I know she is eager to learn more! One thing I’ve learned about using sign language is that you don't have to be an expert at using it. I am no expert and am still continuously learning all the time. However it is also not impossible to remember the new signs, while learning. So, do not be discouraged if you are thinking about learning as you go, and teaching your child.

            Our favorite ways to learn together has been by using Flash cards, iPad apps, Rachel Coleman's Signing Time DVDs, and recently we were generously gifted the book, Signing Time Play Time Signs, which is a wonderful picture teaching book that she will enjoy over and over! (Thank You, HearMyHands). ASL is not just for deaf and hard of hearing, but an awesome tool for special needs children and adults, or anyone with the desire to learn. I am so grateful we have this amazing language, because communicating with Iliana has been a true joy and we look forward to learning more together, every day!

Tina Shupe

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