SASL Newsletter - Spring 2019 Issue Issue 13 - Spring 2019

The Power of ASL A Society Supporting Language, Literacy, and Performing Arts in the Signed Modality Spring 2019 A Newsletter of the Society for American Sign Language Issue 13 Why We Chose ASL For Our Child By Mary Ann Shock Our story goes back to November 1992 when our second son, Hayden, was born with a disorder called Goldenhar Syndrome (a rare congenital disability characterized by incomplete development of the ear, nose, soft palate, and lip). Three weeks later, after numerous tests, we discovered he was also Deaf. In the first year of his life, my husband, Ed, and I studied and researched the complexities of raising a Deaf child in a world where hearing is taken for granted; how would we communicate with him? How would he communicate with us? With his brother? With society? We read every conceivable study available and met experts in the field. We left no stone unturned in our quest for knowledge, direction, and advice. Next, we focused on a mode of communication that would facilitate interaction between Hayden, his family, and ultimately the hearing world. We tried hearing aids, FM systems, speech therapy, oral programs, Total Communication, Cued Speech, anything, and everything to find what would be the most efficient way to communicate with this precious little boy. For instance, when Emery, the oldest brother, played with Hayden, we tried to communicate to Hayden about airplanes, fire trucks, bugs, bats and balls – all things little boys like – but the moment passed and the opportunity was missed. We were growing frustrated because we could not effectively communicate. When Hayden was eleven months old, we were told about a parent-infant program that introduced ASL to our family. Our life changed! It started with simple words/signs like car, play, ball, dad, and drink. We were fortunate to have home visits to help us “label” our items in our home with pictures of the signed words. As a young family, we were offered the opportunity to start taking family sign classes at our local elementary school. I remember Hayden’s teachers telling us to be patient with Hayden and that he would eventually pick up signs. We just had to be consistent and have repetition with each word/sign. To our surprise, within two weeks, he was grasping at our signs and mimicking us. Just like our hearing children babbled the English language incorrectly, Hayden would babble his signs incorrectly. Of course, we knew what he meant. It was beautiful and amazing! We knew we had found ASL as the language of communication that our (Continue son needed. He was on page 8) likew The Power of ASL 1 Spring 2019 – Issue 13