I had big dreams for my daughter. Before my husband and I found out the sex of our child, I had already decided that she would be taught four languages from birth: English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. I thought that this would help my child to communicate effectively with the people surrounding us. Little did I know that by teaching her sign language, she would be able to communicate with some members of her own family. My baby Danger has two girl cousins that are both deaf from birth. As heartbreaking as it has been to watch the struggles that the girls and their parents have been through, it is equally rewarding in a sense. These little girls have to go through a lot to have the chance to hear, but they do not have to struggle and adapt on their own. Their mother has been such a strong, courageous, and positive person. Her faith on the matter of her daughters' chances for hearing is incredible and contagious. You cannot help but to believe that one day, both those sweet little girls will be healed.
My hope is that my Danger will continue to practice sign language so that she can interact with her cousins and the other deaf children in this country. It is my belief that no one should feel left out because of a disability. It is up to us as parents to encourage our children to treat others as they would like to be treated. That being said, I must also add that I had another reason to teach my daughter sign language, a more selfish purpose for sure - I hate crying.
When I hear a child crying, I can't help but to think, "Use your words!" I may have even been known to say that to my own child a time or two (dozen). Sign language has helped us out a lot with this. My daughter could just show us what she wanted: When she was hungry, she would sign "hungry" or "eat"; when she was in need of milk, she would sign "milk". Once she began speaking, her usage of baby sign language fizzled out. She will occasionally sign things out, but she prefers to yell, "Boobie!" when she wants milk. This is all a part of growth, and I am very glad that she is able to form words with her voice. There are many other children that cannot speak or even hear, and it is with these children in mind that I vow to continue learning and teaching sign language to my daughter.
This week is Deaf Awareness Week, and although this is the first time I am hearing of this special week, it is a cause that hits so close to home for us. Have you been teaching your child sign language? If so, what resources do you use? (We started off with the Baby Einstein dvds, and I have to say that the resources on it were excellent!)