Tuesday, October 2, 2012

ASL and Down Syndrome

(day one meeting Lil G for the first time- Psychologist "this is your mama and papa")

When we arrived in Ecuador we were surprised to learn
 that our new daughter had  no spoken language.  
Throughout the adoption
 we received quarterly reports that were mailed out from the orphanage.
 Basically our orphanage allows people to sponsor the children
 and some children have many sponsors depending on their needs. 
Before the international Hague convention laws were changed, 
thus the delay in our adoption,  
we were allowed to be on the list of sponsors.

(this is a photo of Lil G being given the photo album over a year before we traveled!)

 I'm not sure if that made this harder or easier. 

Now where was I?? 
Oh, yes.
 When we arrived in Ecuador 
and met lil G we were shocked to learn she was not speaking.
 Earlier in the process there was mention of her saying 
mama and papa
 so we thought her language was progressing. 
 She understood commands and was such a sweet loving child
. We were so thankful that we had brought the first set of signing time DVDs with us. (they have a spanish option)
Once she came to stay with us on the third day in country
 we started putting them in our laptop for her to watch. 

(here she is watching a video of herself at school)

It was amazing. 
She started using the signs in appropriate context within days
 and by the time we had arrived in the states 8 weeks later
 she had mastered at least 20 signs! 

(this is Lil G signing  Papa on the album week 5. Papa had come home already.)

I can remember sitting in the big offices 
waiting for new birth certificates and visa with our adoption facilitator, she was amazed~
her showing the people that we were dealing with
 how well G was doing. 
She would say a word in Spanish and Lil G would sign it, 
cheers and clapping only reinforced her learning process.

(this is Lil G on day one playing outside with her new family)

Once home we slowly cut Spanish out
 and started communicating exclusively in English and sign language. 

(this is Lil G signing bird while playing with a set of handknit birds- a gift)

We call it ASL but I think if we were involved in the deaf community
 we are actually using signed English or SEE. 
The reason is the order of words. 
If I were saying , I'm going to the store tomorrow in ASL 
I would say , "tomorrow, store I go." 
so we are keeping the words in English spoken order to encourage Lil G to just use the signs as she would actually speak in conversation.
 I did research before we went to Ecuador
 and knew that many families did this with their children no matter what their abilities were and some individuals
 that had never had the ability to speak
were able to communicate 
once they were introduced to sign language.

 I have only met one family that had a child with Down Syndrome that actually discouraged their child from using ASL. The parents felt like their child used it as a crutch and knew now to speak yet was choosing not to.
 I believe that everyone has their own opinions
 and will say that in our family
 if we ever feel like Lil G is using ASL
 when she is perfectly capable of speaking,
 it's a form of communication. 
I have bigger concerns than trying to
Micro manage my daughter.

     I will say that once we had her home
 we had her hearing evaluated 
to make sure there wasn't anything hindering her ability to hear
 and develop spoken language, 
but that's a topic for another day. 
Since we are only at day 2 Ive gotta spread this out some!

If you are interested feel free to ask questions.
 As I mentioned earlier, 
we had the first three DVDs from  "signing time" 
when we went to Ecuador with both an English and Spanish track. 
A few months after returning home I was able to purchase the full collection of signing time DVDs used off EBay.
You can find videos and lots of parent helps
 on the signing time website
 and lil G s oldest sister has been able to keep her busy watching the music on YouTube.
 I took a course in ASL about 20 years ago and have my book to refer to when learning new signs.
 There are many dictionaries available
 and a great program on the Internet if you would like to learn this beautiful language.

 Before I close I will warn you to be careful when signing,
 these are words ,
 and there are actually words you wouldn't want to sign unknowingly in the deaf community.
 My oldest daughter took all the courses to be an interpreter
 and giggled a few times before sharing how Lil G needed to be corrected! 
Oops! If in doubt look it up !

Of course I know you'd like to see a few photos of our Lil G while here today.
I hope you enjoyed your visit and come back!
(Lil G signing cake with papa)

(she signed crab, sand, cake, water, birds, scared .... to name a few)

one of her obsessions is going to ball games or watching on tv.
Tampa Bay Rays 
she will sign Ball game, bat," fall down" for sliding- love it!!!
"pink candy" "popcorn" and "blue"- we think she is talking about the mascot

She has mastered how to say Nemo. cute cute cute!
I caught her in her room signing and saying "sweeeeeet" with the surfer turtles.
she says/signs  "orange fish" "shark" "whale" "water"
and does a great impression of Dory talking whale

(caught red handed!)

While in Ecuador my daughter sent a care package with our missions team.
In it was a box of cheese its
she learned rather quickly how to sign
"more cracker"
Now we find her raiding the box on her own if you find it within reach!

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