Saturday, May 26, 2012

Learning to Communicate

Finding out you have a child that can't hear is a little bit of a shock, but as with most situations in parenting you have only a moment to let it sink in before you have to respond. The day SJ's was diagnosed we were sent home with quite a bit of reading material about being the parent of a child that is deaf or hard or hearing. That alone is a little surreal. I feel like parenthood has thrown me a few curve balls already, but nothing that required a team of experts and a stack parenting handbooks. 

The most important thing for me at this point is to give my daughter a way to communicate. SJ is still at a good age to pick up speech quickly, but the ideal window for acquiring a first language is half closed already. The doctors and therapist can only work so quickly. No matter how concerned they are and how much they encourage a sense of urgency it seems like the standard protocol in this field is "hurry up and wait". I can sit around and wait for the Doctors, but the thing is, I am pretty stubborn.  I am ready to communicate with my daughter now and I know that sign language is realistic way to do that. So I have been devouring every bit of information I can in this area. In less than 2 months I have acquired a 250 word vocabulary in ASL. SJ has gone from knowing 5 words to 9 which might not seem like a big deal, but those are just the words that she is producing on her own. She repeats and understand a lot more than that. It's a big step forward in minimizing frustration and educating her about the world around her. 

For example, we went to the zoo and beforehand I learned every zoo animal sign I could think of because  she wasn't going to hear me say elephant or rhinoceros, but she could see me sign and start identifying that these amazing creatures have names! Here is a little video of her signing shoe, which is basically thumping your fist together at the thumbs.

I have so much to say about sign language, which I will be sure to post more on in the near future. When SJ gains oral communication she may decide to drop signing all together or our whole family could end up bilingual. Either way I'm hooked. I know I am just a beginner when it comes to this beautiful language, but I am grateful for what it has already done for me by enabling me to communicate with my daughter. It's funny, I've been vocal my whole life (just ask my family), but for this season that I am in it's like ASL is what has given me a voice.


Donna said...

So moved by your story and your determination to give your daughter whatever she needs. Stay strong.

{amy} said...

I'm glad you've been able to learn so much so quick! And SJ seems happy to learn how to communicate as well! :)

lewiston said...

I just love how you're responding to ALL of this! I know you're not superwoman (no one really is!) but you are such an example of stepping up and being the parent your child needs. I imagine you have your moments when you're just overwhelmed, but what I see is God's strength shining brightly through your human weakness. You encourage me greatly!