Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To ASL or Not To ASL



Here is a picture of Ethan signing "Dad", his favorite word.

As many of you know, I'm a member of a few different online support groups that consist of parents of deaf children. They have been a tremendous help for me by providing me with up to date information on everything implant related as well as emotional suport. One of the parents on Ci Circle recommended this site for ASL and I love it. It's really fun because you can see signing in various categories and you can also quiz your knowledge. Click Here to see it!

We continue to use ASL and even learn new signs with Ethan. Many people who are raising young children with Ci's stop using sign in favor of a strong auditory approach, so this has been a controversial issue on my various lists. Those in favor of the auditory only approach even go so far as to site various studies showing stronger test scores and other success benchmarks. I struggle with this sometimes because we obviously want the best for Ethan, but I'm not convinced that they are right. The teacher in me wonders if test scores are really the best indicator of aptitude anyway, I'm more convinced when I see critical thinking skills and problem solving rather than a good test score. How can having a manual language foundation be anything but a huge help for learning spoken language? Studies have shown that children that are raised in a bilingual environment are slower to learn each language (they're doing twice the work) but that they eventually catch up and can then surpass the skill level of their peers.

I think we'll follow Ethan's lead. We're definitely planning for him to get by entirely on spoken English rather than ASL, but if he continues to use sign with us we aren't going to shut him down. What if he grows older and wants to become part of the deaf community? He might want to meet other deaf people his age or look at a deaf college someday, who knows? There is a local boy who was raised orally here in Athens and now he is attending a college for the deaf in Rochester, N.Y. His parents have said that he no longer wishes to speak and only wants to be around his deaf friends. This is a boy who was raised speaking and attended a mainstream public school! I find that pretty interesting.

This won't be easy, but I think we're in for a great ride with E-Boy.

3 comments:

Mom to Toes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mom to Toes said...

Heather, we have also struggled with this.

We continue to use very basic ASL with Erin, but have not begun the process of integrating a more aggressive ASL approach.

I can't help but worry that we are missing the boat.

We are tentatively planning to start a stronger ASL path once Erin starts verbalizing language. Of course, as I am sure you are experiencing as well, our deaf child is constantly redefining our plans based on her own opinions on the matter.

So, for the most part, we intend to follow her lead as well.

I LOVE your blog! I am so glad I found it.

(ps: we are also in OH)

deb said...

I don't know if you'll get this comment but I hope so. We have a 15 year old daughter who uses sign. Our daughter is developmentally delayed and can't speak but her hearing is fine. We were discouraged from using sign because it would "limit" her. Fortunately we didn't listen to the experts. Katie never shuts up with her signing and it's given her a voice.

I think sign and english go well together and your primary concern is to give him a language, not just for expression but also for him to think with and to dream in.