SASL Newsletter - Fall 2018 Issue Issue 11 - Fall 2018

The Power of ASL A Society Supporting Language, Literacy, and Performing Arts in the Signed Modality Fall 2018 A Newsletter of the Society for American Sign Language Issue 11 American Sign Language and Cerebral Palsy By Lauren Dodson Ever since I first saw American Sign Language (ASL) introduced to my special education self- contained classroom for students with physical disabilities when I was in the second grade, I was drawn to ASL and had a sincere desire to learn the language. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I had this experience because it seems strange to introduce a language that depends on movement through space to a group of elementary school kids who struggled to move! As a child, I was discouraged from learning and using ASL because of the effects that my Cerebral Palsy (CP) has on the movement of my hands. Despite my disability, my desire to learn ASL only grew stronger as I grew older. As an adult, I sought ways to learn ASL both in classrooms alongside my hearing peers, and when my disability made that environment a struggle, I was blessed to find a Deaf ASL instructor who continued my ASL education through private tutoring. It was not until I found my way to Gallaudet University that I learned that I have Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) as a secondary diagnosis co- occurring with CP. SID means that I can perceive normal sound levels as actually painful and I sometimes have difficulty “selecting” communicative sounds from the world that is filled with sound. Discovering that I have SID has explained the deep desire that I had to learn ASL throughout most of my life. CP may have given me SID, but it also impaired the functionality of my hands. Medical professionals, some ASL teachers, and even my parents once believed that my learning ASL would be a waste of my time and money because my movement difficulties would impede my attempts to express myself using ASL successfully. Fortunately, as an adult, I found other educators who supported and nurtured my efforts to learn ASL. No one ever doubted that CP would affect my ASL, but my ability to use ASL to communicate effectively was widely disputed. I have become comfortable with my identity as a signer with CP as a student at Gallaudet. Despite having mobility challenges, I have had many positive signing experiences at Gallaudet! How was this possible? In asking questions of Deaf native ASL signers and the staff at Gallaudet, I was ____ (Continue on page 8) The Power of ASL 1 Fall 2018 – Issue 11