Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest post: Meet Shea & see her family's approach to successful early communication... ASL!

Today we have another guest blog post from Beth, Shea's mommy, from the new blog Signing with Shea. Read about young Shea's journey of learning sign language and why her parents decided to use ASL as her mode of communication. Watch their daily videos of Shea's new sign language development!

My husband and I are hearing.  Our daughter, Shea, was born deaf.  We've taken many steps to ensure communication between the three of us as a family, including learning ASL and teaching our daughter.  We are by no means fluent....we are learning as we go.  Every day is a challenge; and every day is a blessing.

Shea at the farm signing TRAIN to daddy during the ride.
One day while Shea & I were doing our weekly grocery shopping, I realized how interested everyone was in "talking" to Shea.  As soon as people find out that she's Deaf (usually because they are watching us sign), they want to know how to tell her this or how to sign that.  Shea is very outgoing and just naturally draws people to her.  I thought that this would be a great way to teach not just ourselves, but everyone at least a little sign language!  So, Signing with Shea was born.

We started out on Facebook posting a new sign daily, along with a description, for people to learn.  Basically we thought this would be helpful to our family and friends in learning to sign.  Little did we realize the wonderful response we would have from complete strangers, both hearing and Deaf.  What started out as a handful of "fans" has now grown to over 250!  Along the way, many people have shared their own stories with us, and many more have asked how we do it.  How do we keep our sanity through having a toddler who screams at the top of her lungs occasionally because she does not know what it means to be loud.  How do we make time to learn all the new signs that we need to learn?  How do we get information and how do we know if we're making the right decisions for Shea?  So, I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog, and a website.  

On our blog, we write openly and honestly about issues we've faced, emotions we've dealt with and decisions we've made.  My thinking was that even if this helps one family to know that they are not alone in raising a Deaf child to grow up and be a healthy, happy, well-adjusted member of society, then we've done a good thing.  We've learned that deafness is approached as something that "must" be fixed.....and we, personally don't feel that our daughter needs "fixing"....and we want other parents to know, too, that their child is not broken just because he/she is deaf.  So, in many ways it is also cathartic for me to be able to write about all the things we've faced and overcome in the past and all the trials and tribulations yet to come.

We created the website as a way to try to put resources together in one spot where people can go to find information, because I know that when we were first informed that Shea was Deaf, we had no idea what to do or where to go for help.  This is still in the very beginning phases - the website hasn't even been live for 2 weeks yet - but we plan on putting a video ASL dictionary on the site at some point in the not-too-distant future.  The site will serve as a "jumping off" point - as place to start - for people who wish to learn more about ASL, Deafness, Deaf Culture and more.  From the site, visitors will be able to contact us directly, link to informational websites, view ASL videos and more.  It's very important to know that, no matter what you are facing in life, someone else has walked before you, and yet more will walk sure to follow carefully and where you can tread safest for your family, and lead as best you can for those that come after you.

Many thanks to Kristy for asking me to do a guest blog.  Thanks for all your support, as well.

Thank you Beth. I look forward to reading more about Shea and your family's journey through her communication development and language growth! Go check out her blog at and her Facebook page!

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