Tuesday, June 5, 2007

American Sign Language

I am in love with this language! Over a year ago I started learning American Sign Language (ASL) for my son. He couldn't communicate through speech and so his speech therapist started teaching him some simple signs. He picked it up very quickly and so I eagerly signed up for a local ASL class. Now he is doing amazingly well with sign. He signs close to 1000 signs by my best guess, and the sign language is actually helping him with his speech and other issues like his fine motor dyspraxia. He starts with a sign language interpreter at school next month ! Sign Language is amazing, and has been so AMAZING for my son and our family.
I should say that I had prior experience with ASL. When I was in elementary school I had a friend whose sister was Deaf. I saw her and her mother signing one day in the car, they seemed really angry, but I just was in awe, it looked so amazing. I had to learn. So I bought a book with my allowance, it was a signed english book which I know now is a bit different from ASL but the alphabet is the same. I learned the alphabet from that book and some other signs like family, friends, love, dog which are all the same in ASL as in signed English. The main difference between ASL and signed English is grammar. In ASL if you are trying to say "What is your name?" you would sign YOUR NAME WHAT (and raise your eyebrows to indicate a question).. in signed English you would sign WHAT IS YOUR NAME. Many people don't realize that ASL is not based on English- it was actually brought over in the 1800s from France, so my guess is that it's grammar more closely resembles French- but I am not sure. ASL doesn't have words like IS, AM, BE etc. So anyway, after I learned some words on my own, I joined an ASL club after school in middle school. I kept an interest in ASL all the way through until I had my son and actually needed it, I just never actually seriously pursued fluency until I found out I needed to- for Liam. So I do feel that maybe there was a reason I have had this interest, this spark that has kept on throughout my life. Because my little sister was friends with the same neighbor girl whose sister was Deaf, we all played together, but my little sister doesn't even remember that her sister was Deaf and she never took an interest in ASL like me. And we both went to the same summer camp, my brother went too. When Deaf kids went there they never took any interest, when we learned a camp song in sign language, they never took interest. But I did. My little sister didn't care about the sign language club at our school either..I just kept being repeatedly exposed to sign language as a child.. and when I found out I needed it for Liam.. I sort of felt like, Ok, this is why. I was meant to be his mom.
So here I am now. I just got home from my first ASL 3 summer class. I LOVE IT! I am so excited about this class ! My teacher is awesome, she is Deaf herself and just from the first class has already given me so much new stuff to go check out, new vocabulary to work on, new inspiration ! My teacher is the same teacher I had for ASL 2. She rocks the house ! I am a student, and at about 70 credit hours I have to decide on my degree.. I want to study Deaf Ed, Linguistics of ASL and Sociology, I am really excited about this. It will take about 3-4 more years to graduate with my masters.. but that is fine. I am just really happy to have picked my major.. this feels right. So that is all for now, I am off to go check out new stuff for class, buy some books, check out some ASL vlogs on youtube and blogger.... !!


nomotherearth said...

It's funny how things sometimes seem fated to be, huh?

Colette said...

Dropping a note to say Hi, my three children have all got speech difficulties amongst other things - long list.
My 2 girls have got verbal and oral dyspraxia.
I just know that my son has it as well but here in the UK, if you live in an area that primary care trust - hospitals doctors etc are heavily in debt then they will do anything to save money.
Hence my so called son's speech therapist is saying my son doesn't have any features of verbal dyspraxia. (Not a happy bunny when i recieved the report yesterday).

Annie D said...


oh no ! i am so sorry. the system here in america is pretty good.. some people hit some problems but the care is relatively good, compared to other parts of the world.

i am sorry they are doing that to your son ! are you going to try a second opinion ?
good luck !

britmummybites said...

Thankfully after persistent nagging on my part for over a year. His paed has referred him to a specialist hospital. It was this hospital that diagnosised both the girls and they have been wanting to see him as much as i wanted to get him referred.
Just hope this speech report hasn't damage his case to be seen.
In the mean time, i'm out with my camera which take's video clips and getting him talking. Will upload and will e-mail the principal speech therapist at the hospital the link.

Lynelle Mcbee said...

I can't blame you for falling in love with this language. :-) It's really beneficial and a great way to hear the hearts of people who have hearing impairment. The experience is simply remarkable. I hope you make it a career. Wish you all the luck. ;-)