Here in the Land of Blog, my words, opinions, views, likes and dislikes are available to read or not, as one chooses.
In the Land of Real, my words, opinions, views, likes and dislikes are available to hear, and mostly it is I who chooses if one is to here them or not.
I talk almost non-stop at times. Other times, I don't say a word (but, if one were to read my mind, they might faint!).
Oh, and keep in mind that when I am talking, I have a voice and accent much like The Nanny (Fran Drescher's character) or Rosie Perez, another actress. Yep, I sound like Nu Yawk!
All that being said, imagine what happens when me, the mouth that does not rest, is told her newborn baby girl is deaf. Umm...deaf? My very first thought was 'How is she going to hear birdsong in the mornings?' Then! WAIT A MINUTE. EXCUSE ME, EXCUSE ME!!!!!! Excuse me, how am I supposed to talk to her? How is she going to talk to me?
Twenty four years ago, this is exactly what I was thinking, or rather saying, in a fairly loud voice. Imagine my surprise to find out that the only, ONLY, book I could find to help me learn to sign was Sesame Street Signs, with Linda Bove.
There were no signing shows on PBS, there were no little books to teach baby to sign, in fact, I did not even know anyone who was deaf. WHAT IN THE HECKIEDOODLE AM I GOING TO DO?? So, I poured over that little Sesame Street book and learned every sign in it. And, I started to sign to the little girlie who was still in the NICU and would be for many months.
In this time before computers and the world wide web made access to information so readily available, I learned where I could find more signing information. A group of college students at Galluadet University in Washingto DC decided to stage a protest, now known as DEAF PRESIDENT NOW - a call for the newly appointed president of the college to be deaf. The eyes of the world were focused on a group of people who knew exactly what I wanted to know. How to communicate with a deaf person. Galluadet University's book store became my goldmine of information about signing.
One of the doctors that we were so fortunate to get guidance from in Suzanne's first year of life was Dr. Isabelle Rapin. Dr. Rapin told us to give Suzanne language. Language, spoken or signed, was the key to opening up the world for Suzanne and for us. Since her deafness was total and complete and would never be anything otherwise, we started to sign to her in earnest.
Teaching our daughter language via ASL gave me a new perspective on how one acquires the skills of communication and understanding. Have you ever given any thought to how we teach a child to understand the concept of "WHY?" or time, or thoughts, feelings? (About a year of so later my son and his little friends came tearing into the house one morning, all of them shouting "We want to show Suzanne what dead is!" There was a dead mouse in the street near the school bus stop. They thought this would be a perfect visual aid in teaching DEAD.) Oh the memories, just go on and on. In the beginning though, I just wanted to be able to talk to my girl just as I had to my son when he was a baby.
I needed to be able to tell her how very much she meant to me.
This is the first sign I learned -
graphic from -
Excerpted from Baby Sign Language Basics (Hay House, Inc.), by Monta Z. Briant. from American Baby
So, L is for Language and for Love. Spoken or signed, both are vital to our development as human beings.