Saturday, November 21, 2009

the continued role of sign in our home

Lucas signing airplane on Halloween

It's a hot topic. All parents of deaf children must make the decision. To sign or not to sign, that is the question. I posted back in June about our use of keyword signing. I am truly thankful for the way that sign language has helped to bridge the communication gap for Lucas. And even though Lucas is doing soooooo well with his receptive and expressive spoken language right now, sign language still plays a small role in our daily lives. Here's how:

1. Lucas still signs some words expressively along with his spoken word or approximation. We then know exactly what he's talking about. "Milk", for example, still comes out like "muh" which also sounds like his "more." "Cat", for example, sounds like "at", which also sounds like his "hat." When he signs too, he makes himself clearer, and cuts down on his frustrations.

2. When Lucas takes his ear off and leaves it somewhere (gasp!) or it falls off because the wig tape has lost its stickiness for the day, it comes in handy to be able to sign "where's your CI?" and for him to go and get it. Yes, this one is truly a blessing. It think it's time to invest in some critter clips.

3. Bathtime and I have a love-hate relationship. I love it, because Lucas loves it so much. He would be happy to spend the whole day in the bathtub, in fact. And I hate it, because he can't hear me when I talk to him while bathing. So, when he doesn't have his back to me, I sign to him. These signed expressions can range anywhere from "sit your &@! down" to "you are a fish" to "I love you, my little monkey" to "All done! It's time for bed!" Maybe someday Lucas will get the Nucleus 5 processor, and bathtime can become a richer language experience. But for now, I just get splashed a lot.

4. When it's bedtime, and he hands me his ear, our last parting sentiments are "I love you!" when our signing hands meet in excitement. It's my favorite.

Sign language is not our primary means of communication by any means, but I'm really glad that we've continued with it minimally. However, I am also really thankful that he doesn't have to rely upon it. At this time last year, I'm not quite sure I could have predicted that. M.I.R.A.C.L.E.


Anonymous said...

What's wrong with relying on sign? Why is it so awful that you need to be "thankful" that you don't HAVE to use it.

leah said...

You sound a lot like us- we certainly don't rely on sign language, but use it on occasion. Like at the playground when Nolan is too far away to hear me (aids only amplify within a certain distance- so after about 30 feet or so, he's out of range). Or in the tub, though he can still hear us if we get close enough. And in noisy situations.

He really likes the Signing Time series, which is cool. I wish he would sign back sometimes, because he was saying, "dinDIDna!" the other day and we couldn't figure it out for the longest time! He was saying "pajamas." Go figure.

Julia said...

First of all, that new picture of Lucas at the top of the blog is ADORABLE. What a beautiful face, and so much personality!

Second, that's exactly what we're doing with sign these days -- it's fun, and occasionally it's helpful, and it certainly doesn't seem to hurt. In fact, I started a weekly Signing Time playgroup awhile back, and a pretty good crowd of Ben's friends come over for play, sign language fun, and a Signing Time DVD. It's definitely helped renew Ben's interest in sign.

susannah said...

it's funny- we were signing a lot, then dropped off a bit, and then lately i have felt like we need to sign more. and monrovia has been making up signs or using signs when she cant say a word...i feel it most when her implants tweak out (which has been happening A TON) and die or in the bath- she too loves it, and i hate it because i can only sign a little. where have you found a good place for you to learn sign? we have signing time, but she doesnt really seem into them...(maybe her age) and i need more signs to teach her because she is a sponge...but she goes to an auditory/oral school so no help there. any thoughts??

tammy said...

Love, love, love number four! How sweet is that! We have been using some too, just about the same as you. Aiden gets frustrated when he "asks" for more and I'm not fast enough to get it, he signs it as high up in my face as he can show me like "see mom, I want MORE". We also use STOP a lot. I need to learn "Where are your CIs" too! Like you said, hearing them speak is just amazing, but this little bit of sign sure is helpful too!

Lucas'Mommy said...

Susannah - I've mostly learned my sign from Signing Time and the wonderful teachers of the deaf we've worked with. I've also found our local library to have lots of great resources. I sometimes look up words on Have fun with it!

Lucas'Mommy said...


Thanks for your comment, but next time please leave your name. There's nothing inherently wrong with relying on sign, but Lucas now has the choice to do so or not. And just to be clear, I'm thankful for HIM, not for me. Gaining fluency in a 4th language is no sweat off my back.