Monday, July 22, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. Article

When my son Liam was diagnosed with apraxia of speech at age 3, his Dad was less than one month into a year long deployment to Afghanistan. The news was crushing. Suddenly, the possibility that our first born child would never speak, was our reality. Co parenting was impossible as our communication was cut off with Dad at war-- it was all up to me.
The first thing I did was quit sleeping. I stayed up reading, researching and networking online with other parents who had walked the same path. I read every book in existence on apraxia.

As I broadened my awareness, I began to understand two different paths parents were choosing to take. The more commonly travelled was using a device like Stephen Hawking to speak. The child would spend hundreds of hours learning how to use the device, and have the machine speak in a robot like voice. The road less travelled was sign language. Interestingly enough, I had been learning sign language since I myself was just seven years old. And, I just so happened to be at the point in my college career when I could not move forward until I selected a second language to study. The choice was obvious to me. Mother's intuition was buzzing. I signed up for ASL 1 and started informing the professionals around my son that we would be traveling the road less travelled, ASL. We ordered every episode of Signing Time on DVD and got to work! My research had helped me to understand that the neural pathways in the brain of the apraxic child were likely damaged. I also understood that the neural pathways where ge`stural language (signed languages) travelled was a different area in the brain altogether. So I had a hypothesis, that if we could teach my son ASL, he would first, have a full language ability to express himself. And secondly, we could use ASL as a bridge to verbal communication. Would it be possible to reroute his verbal communication through gestural language pathways by pairing speech with sign? We had to find out. So, we immersed ourselves in Deaf culture and were accepted fully into the Deaf community through our passion for the language. The most priceless gift my son and I have received to date in this world, is the love and acceptance we received from the Deaf Community in a time of great vulnerability.



We were blessed to live in New York State at this time, the state leads the nation in special education spending. My research had made me pain fully aware of the funding struggles special ed kids face. To succeed, my son needed to have special ed preshool year round, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy everyday and a one on one aide who was also an ASL interpreter. This all meant big bucks for the district, and it took a bit of advocacy and time, but we got it done. Now my son could start the work of learning day by day how to communicate. The one on one aide who was also an ASL interpreter was the key to my sons learning to speak. I developed a good relationship with her and she was present with my son in his therapy sessions so that she could carry over therapy. Together we developed a unique and individualized method of teaching Liam to speak through the power of American Sign Language.


Liam was almost 5 years old now, and still not speaking. Home for spring break, he was given a homework packet that he was very engaged in, about Martin Luther King, Jr. Liam had already expressed in ASL a very special liking to MLK. Knowing this, I chose to write my History term paper on MLK, inspired by Liam. Day by day I shared with him all sorts of interesting facts about the King. This day I had finished my paper and I sat with Liam and read to him what I had written and asked him if he liked it. He did. Happy, Liam showed me his coloring pages in his homework packet. We started looking in particular at one picture of Martin Luther King at Washington monument. I asked Liam questions about his work, and to the greatest joy of my life, Liam responded in speech for the first time. I said, "Liam where is this?" Liam: "Waa Eee Tuh Mo uu Meht" To say... Washington Monument. This was the most enunciated utterance of Liam's life- and the meaning was 100% clear. Then I asked him who is that there at Washington Monument and he replied in his way "King Jr" I was now officially the happiest Mom on Planet Earth. I knew that my son knew the power to communicate. And was working so hard to have his voice heard. And he would succeed. A few short months later, in planning our route of our move from New York to Texas, I insisted to go the long route across the states, through Washington DC. There, I stood in silence with my beautiful son at the Washington Monument, in gratitude for another great gift the King had bestowed upon my life.


Anne Devlin is a mother, writer, photographer, advocate and founder of www.deaflitproject.org. An aspiring adoptive mother and humanitarian- she lives with her two sons in Eugene, Oregon in community.
Liam is now 10 years old and proudly working on his third language after ASL and English, the Japanese!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

inspiri emerald park

Where the wild trees Are


the Wild trees are here
and there
and (readers choice word) everywhere!

sometimes they dance
or shake
or get naked
REJOICE and or BLOOM

I dont know every place where the wild trees are
but I do know

Where the Wild Trees are's
Where you'll find me




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unstoppable

The Little Mute Boy


by Federico García Lorca
translated by W. S. Merwin

The little boy was looking for his voice.
(The king of the crickets had it.)
In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice.

I do not want it for speaking with;
I will make a ring of it
so that he may wear my silence
on his little finger

In a drop of water
the little boy was looking for his voice.

(The captive voice, far away,
put on a cricket's clothes.)


This is the poem that inspired the name of my blog. Beautiful.
It is quite amazing and peaceful to look back at how far we have come.


I am happy to report, that very soon, my nine year old Liam will be starting to learn his 3rd language. Words cannot express how proud I am of you Liam. To be told you would never speak, and to be on your 3rd language by age 9. You. are. fearless.

and determined
and unstoppable
and magical
and and and .....


His language learning has gone like this..
American Sign Language 1st
Spoken English 2nd
Japanese 3rd!
You should hear him say Kunichiwa...! BEAUTIFUL!
Both my sons were blessed enough to get into this absolutely amazing Japanese Immersion Program-a FREE PUBLIC SCHOOL. Thank you, progressive Oregon! They will be in this program from now until 12th grade thankyouverymuch, because unfortunately due to an extremely nasty divorce, ugg, they have bounced around from school to school. It will be nice to put some roots down and I have to say, kudos to me for picking the community I did. Because it is FANTASTIC.



I will be posting soon on our upcoming experience with hippotherapy and an issue we have recently had with discrimination. And hey, maybe I will even throw in some pictures from our wonderful summer. So if anyone is reading this holler at me and remind me to meet my once a week goal! youwroteme@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I learned to live in the moment...

A wonderful life lesson.

We just moved to Oregon.

Pictures... soon to come. Love.

if anyone is reading this.. and wants me to post more, I will.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And we're back!

I have been neglecting this blog. Guess life got in the way. Happy to report, extatic to report: that my baby boy SPEAKS! It's pretty awesome, redefines awesome, actually. Looking over this old blog and especially the video, WOW! I need some time to collect my thoughts on the matter. Life has changed for us quite a lot. I'll update more later, for all of you three people following this blog.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

babies babies babies

We are babysitting our friends' baby Cooper while his parents go out for an anniversary date.

Liam enjoys playing with the baby. He sat down on the floor with Cooper and pointed to his feet and said "feet' then to his knees and said "knees". He went on like this and said "shoulders, belly, ears, eyes, nose, head," If I didn't hear him or couldn't understand him he came over to me and whispered it in my ear. Made me melt.

Liam is hands down, the sweetest little boy in the whole world. He is so gentle, not only with babies, but with everyone, he is so loving, and gives hugs and kisses to almost everyone he meets.

Liam also signed to me.. asking MOM, BABY?
"Oh you want mommy to have a baby?" "YESH!" Liam exclaimed. "Maybe in a few more years, Liam."

Having kids is being introduced to love, a new amazing kind of love, for the first time.

So many of my friends are having babies now, first babies. I have been thinking so much of how much their lives will change, in all the bad ways, and not thinking much of how their lives will change, in all the good ways. Now I am being reminded. All the sleepless nights, not being able to just take a shower, having to get a babysitter to go out with your spouse, suffering through embarassing public fits...(just to name a few of the downsides) it is all worth it, times a million.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Some little things I want to remember..

This week as we were driving over to my friend Rachel's house to visit her new baby, Soren, Liam looked out over the edge of the Black River, through the trees on the street we live. He brought my attention to the setting sun. And signed SUN, GO HOME.
"Yes, Liam, the sun is going home." I said. Goodnight Sun, we said, me in my way, and Liam in his.

We got to Rachel and Soren's house. And oh yeah, Bert's house too. Well, we arrived at the family house and Liam just wanted to hold the baby first thing. And Rachel let him, just being Rachel, that's how she is. She's a good mom already I can see. Liam held the baby, and kissed his forehead. After a bit, Soren wanted Mom but Liam didn't want to give him up. He just wanted to hold that baby forever I think.

A while later we went outside. Liam begged to hold the baby again, so again he did. This time Soren didn't cry so Liam held him a good while. Liam gave Soren two soft kisses on his forehead. And one slobbery kiss on the forehead. Soren liked it though. I asked Liam, "What is this baby's name?" "Soren" he spoke. Rachel and I smiled.

Later on, in the house. Rachel commented to me. She said something like, 'It's amazing how creative he is with language. It is amazing how he uses the words he has to send his message, like how he said the sun is going home, instead of the sun is setting' We don't know the sign for setting, and he has never spoken the word 'setting'.

I agree with her. I want to remember everything he says. He is amazing.