Monday, March 1, 2010

Memories-Sign Language-Responsibility

My oldest two children were born profoundly Deaf. I found myself learning a beautiful new Language and at the same time teaching the same Language to my two small was an adventure and oh so rewarding. I will post some stories of these sweet memories, hopefully for your enjoyment.

Back when my oldest daughter Mrs. S (now almost 30) was about 18 months old I decided she needed to learn not only the Sign but the meaning of the word "Responsibility".

Sounds easy enough but to me the concept of the word "responsibility" is an abstract, best shown by example and reused at every pertinent opportunity.

Now mind you, I was a stay at home Mom, so my world was a small world, literally my home. I signed and acted out the meaning of "responsibility" every opportunity it presented itself. You know, like "It is Mommy's responsibility to cook dinner, clean the house or wash clothes". I also would sign relative to Mrs. S's world, "It is your responsibility to pick up your toys, sit not jump on the couch, sign not scream" and so on.

We went through a couple of days where Mrs. S looked at me with a puzzled look but she would mimic my signs and actions. Then one day, while I was in the laundry room, busy gathering up laundry, sorting clothes...I felt her little hand pulling on my jeans...

I looked around to her little face. She was holding one of her doll blankets. She handed me the blanket and signed "Your responsibility - wash - my blanket." She smiled up at me, turned on her heels and toddled away.

Victory! We had added what I call an abstract word to her Sign Language vocabulary!

And I must interject...she has taken this word and it's meaning very seriously all of her life!

If you care to learn American Sign Language (ASL) or you're curious about a particular Sign go to ASL Browser. I have used the Michigan State University Communication Technology Laboratory site for years as an ASL reference and it was my saving grace during years as a Interpreter for the Deaf or hearing impaired at a local college.


There is an alphabetic listing at the bottom of the ASL BROWSER WEB SITE page, select the first letter of the word you want to look up.

Next, a listing of words beginning with that letter are shown on the right hand side of the page. Scroll to your word and select. Then a video and a written explanation of the word/sign will appear on the screen!

Well, I'm off the take care of some of my other "Responsibilities" so have a wonderful day!


  1. Your story is very near to my own heart. My nephew was born very premature, 1 lb. 9 oz. at birth, and devloped a mild form of autism and so was later than normal to begin speaking. His therapist taught him some simple signs, such as "love you" and "hungry" and consequently he taught us. He's about to turn 14 and sometimes you can't shut him up, but he's still quick to flash you the "love you" sign. Yea ASL!

  2. Sandy, I can't tell you how much I ADMIRE and RESPECT you for taking your job of being a mother of deaf children so seriously.
    Did the Doctors have any idea why they were both born deaf ?

    Being a mother of 3 children UNDER the age of 4 was very overwhelming for me at times...but we all get thru it..because we love our children more than we love life itself.

    So love having you stop by my blog.

    BTW...found this about the word ADMIRE..
    ad·mire (d-mr)

    1. To regard with pleasure, wonder, and approval.
    2. To have a high opinion of; esteem or respect.

    4.To marvel or wonder at.


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  4. Dear Susan,

    (I had to re-post this comment...I posted it and when I re-read it ... I had mispelled so many words...ah the excitement ...

    It is amazing to think that all children can be taught to communicate at a VERY early age with a basic vocabulary that conveys so much and alleviates tons of frustration on all sides.

    My oldest daughter was Signing at 3's hard to believe but documented and my youngest daughter was Signing at 6 months...ah the power of language!

    Sign an ILY to your nephew from my entire family!


  5. Dear Rose,

    Thank you so much you are a dear, dear friend!

    There is no history of Deafness in either their father's family or my family. However, I have been told that there are 4 genes responsible for Deafness and if the both parents each have the same recessive gene within those 4 genes there is a 1 in 10,000 chance of having a Deaf child. Now, I had 2 out of 2 with the same hearing loss and no other disabilities...

    My oldest daughter is married to a wonderful young man and he is the only Deaf person in his family history (to my knowledge) they have 3 children, my darling Grandbabies...the oldest is Deaf, the middle child has a mild hearing loss and the baby is hearing.

    It's a mystery to me but as with all mysteries God believed He could entrust their care to me...and I know...He knew that I would look upon all 3 of my children as the ultimate GIFT!

    Thank you for are so dear to me!


  6. Thank you for sharing your story!!

    I work in a middle school and it is amazing how many kids DO NOT know the meaning of the word responsibility! They don't think they have to take responsibility for anything....

    So, thank you for teaching your child the true meaning of this word so that she could grow up to be a responsible adult...
    You certainly didn't shirk your responsibility as a parent, despite the added communication challenges.

  7. Sandy - I love that story!!! Thank You for sharing!!! I'm going to go look up some words - thank you for sending me that way!!!

    Have a wonderful Monday evening! I feel that is your responsibility too!!!

    ;-) robelyn

  8. Sandy,
    What a beautiful story...It is so overwhelming what our children are capable of doing, and I hate to miss any of it with mine.
    I recall my mother telling my how hard it was just to get my sister to understand and say the word, "meat". It was BA for a long time!! I wonder if my mom ever just wanted to throw in the towel and learn sign language! I will have to ask her sometime soon.
    lots of love,

  9. Thank you everyone for visiting and for your heartfelt comments!

    I love reading comments and questions from my dear blog friends and new visitors to my is through the sharing of information that doubts are erased and blessings are bestowed.

    Dear Sheila, I believe teachers are the greatest of heros and heroines! You touch lives from the moment a student enters the classroom and that influence will follow said student throughout their lives.

    Dear Robelyn, You are so dear...your humor bolsters my sense of enjoyment and I'm following your are one very smart woman!

    Dear Lynn, you are so dear! In the future I will share stories of the first time I heard my children's voices and yes there were times I felt overwhelmed and unworthy but God always sent just the right person into my life to encourage me during those times...those stories will be included.

    Take care, come back to visit and in the future I will share more memories of the wonderful adventures I was allowed to share with my three beautiful children!

    Thank you one and all,



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