No asl for deaf baby?

What language should be taught to deaf/hoh babies?

  • Verbal only

  • ASL only

  • Verbal and ASL at the same time

  • Verbal first, ASL second

  • ASL first, verbal second


Results are only viewable after voting.

Waitbird

Member
My newborn was diagnosed with “mild to moderate” bilateral hearing loss. She is only two months old but according to her ABR she can’t hear high frequency sounds. She gets her first hearing aids next week. Her ENT told us NOT to teach her sign language and only to communicate verbally. Signing will delay her verbal language development, he said. I’m skeptical of the ENT’s opinion and suspect ASL might be a crucial communication tool for our family. I hoped to teach her both languages but obviously don’t want to cause a developmental delay. Her ENT said no signs! What are everyone’s thoughts on this? Thank you.
 

Lysander

Well-Known Member
I agree. That seems audist of your ENT. Your baby will learn both. And well learn both just fine. There may be a delay in verbal usage, but she'll still learn both. Plus you'll be able to communicate with your baby earlier. Babies develop dexterity in their hands before they develop the complexity of speech.

The friend in the other post you replied to has a 1 year old that can tell her if she's hungry. Or if she wanted more milk. Because she's teaching her to sign.
 

Tristen

Member
You will, honestly, only deal with this ENT when it comes to hearing aids or cochlear implants. Your primary "doctor" will be an audilogist, but some audiologists will tell you the same thing. Just do your own research. Coming onto forums like this is great, looking at research based evidence is great, poking around the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center website is great. You have to do what's best for your family, but I'm a firm believer in that no matter what, no matter what tools our kids have or what hearing technology they employ, they are deaf! They will always be deaf and they need a language they can use and that is natural for them. Deaf brains are wired differently, and I don't think its fair to force a deaf baby's brain to be re-wired to speak. Now, my daughter has CIs and she goes to speech therapy and all that, but we sign, first and foremost. Using both languages help the other. Why can a bi-lingual child learn Spanish and English in a household, and its fine, but a deaf baby can't learn sign language and English at the same time. Doesn't make sense. Eventually, your child will choose their own path in life, so why not give them tools now? Just my two cents :)
 

Waitbird

Member
I wish it were as simple as switching. He’s the nearest ENT available and already a 3 hour drive from our home. I also liked him a lot other than the “no ASL” advice.:dunno:
 

Waitbird

Member
Thank you. I like the "Total Communication" approach: Teach everything and let the child gravitate naturally to the methods preferred. The only issue is, I don't know ASL well enough to teach someone else. I am doing a lot of self-study and hiring a virtual tutor. In college I studied three different foreign languages (Hindi, Sanskrit and French) - how I wish I would've chosen ASL instead.
 

DeafDucky

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't worry TOO much about learning ASL while teaching it to someone else (In this case your child)... both of you will and can learn together. I think a lot of hearing parents are in the same boat- learning ASL/sign at the same time as the child.

As noted already- don't pay much mind to the ENT. I don't know old your ENT is but many either still hold very old ideals- as in "ASL is not good for the baby- he must learn to hear and speak and ASL will stunt the speaking" or hold personal bias about that. I think as time goes on there will be less of that though. It's not such a huge divide as it was when I was a tot (I grew up 'oral'... one of those 'success stories' if you will)- no sign, speech therapy from age 2 to 13ish, hearing aids since 2, mainstreamed....B average in one of the best private schools in the state...blah blah blah but I still missed a lot.. not a great social life (didn't help I was an introvert- still am) and always wondered if I could have done better in a deaf school or at least a deaf mainstream program with ASL.

Anyway... ahem...the virtual tutor is an interesting and good first step. I don't know where you live but sounds like a state or area that doesn't have a lot of deaf presence.

I wish you luck.. and your child is lucky to have a momma like you :).
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
Thank you. I like the "Total Communication" approach: Teach everything and let the child gravitate naturally to the methods preferred. The only issue is, I don't know ASL well enough to teach someone else. I am doing a lot of self-study and hiring a virtual tutor. In college I studied three different foreign languages (Hindi, Sanskrit and French) - how I wish I would've chosen ASL instead.
Still YAY! You get it.....Definatly do ASL with her. You don't have to worry too much about speech with HOH kids....so why not add ASL? It can only help her. As long as she gets good quality spoken language therapy, she'll develop speech. Then you can put the energy that you would have into pursuing an intense speech approach , into learning ASL! That way she'll be able to function fully without her hearing aids, she'll have an edge with being bilingal, it will be FUN and not a tedious "eternal speech therapy approach. Where are you located? Maybe we can help you with resources!
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
Oh and don't forget......Contact your state's School for the Deaf. They'll be able to hook you up with ALL sorts of resources....Join American Society for Deaf Children. http://deafchildren.org/ Look into every and anything. There are many different pieces to the puzzle!
 

Waitbird

Member
I don't know old your ENT is but many either still hold very old ideals- as in "ASL is not good for the baby- he must learn to hear and speak and ASL will stunt the speaking" or hold personal bias about that.

Actually, that's exactly what he said! "Sign language stunts verbal language development." Okay, many children raised in bilingual households are "late talkers," but ultimately they learn to use both languages proficiently. Since my daughter literally relies on technology in order to successfully communicate in English, wouldn't it be prudent to offer her a "back-up" method of expression- just in case her hearing technology fails her?

Your experience being "mainstreamed" is what I fear will happen to my daughter. Because you were bright, you were still successful in an all-verbal learning environment - but imagine how much easier it could have been on you if taught in a deaf-friendly learning style. Perhaps you wouldn't have felt the same isolation.

I don't know where you live but sounds like a state or area that doesn't have a lot of deaf presence.
Unfortunately not. The nearest audiologist is an hour away and her ENT is over three hours. None of the nearby universities or community colleges offer ASL so I'm feeling very "other."

And thank you for your sweet words. :redface::)
 

zeefour

Active Member
Thank you. I like the "Total Communication" approach: Teach everything and let the child gravitate naturally to the methods preferred. The only issue is, I don't know ASL well enough to teach someone else. I am doing a lot of self-study and hiring a virtual tutor. In college I studied three different foreign languages (Hindi, Sanskrit and French) - how I wish I would've chosen ASL instead.

Just wanted to point out, I would look more into the bi bi (bilingual bicultural) method than TC. I went Deaf in kindergarten in the early 90s. I grew up in a TC classroom. TC was the predecessor to bi bi. I used hearing aids and later a BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid) and used an FM system in class. I went to speech therapy. However I also used a form of sign however it was signed English, which is actually NOT a natural fluent language system, and does not work in the brain. the same way as ASL English, French, Swahili, whatever it is. That has put me at a huge disadvantage later down the line because I think only in English and don't have complete fluency in ASL so I can't always completely communicate with the Deaf community but because I'm also severely Deaf, I can't always completely communicate with the hearing community (have to be with someone in person, looking right at them, a foot or two away from them, etc.) My written English is my best language but I can't always write. I'm also a unique situation because I did learn English like a hearing child. If I had been born Deaf however my English skills would not be as good and if I was only in the same kind of TC classroom the ASL I'm properly learning now would be harder for me. I feel like I've been put at a disadvantage because of this. It's not that my teachers and parents didn't have the best intentions for me, this was the best method to use in the 90s. However now bi bi has been developed, the idea is you expose a Deaf child to ASL as their primary language because it's the natural language they will easily be able to pick up just like a hearing child picks up spoken English. Then once they have this complete language you teach English to them as a second language. You start early like this but you teach it in the context of their native language ASL. It's like teaching Spanish speaking young children English and by late elementary school at the latest they are completely fluent at both languages because language acquisition is really best in children before age 7 due to brain development.

I hope this all makes sense! If you don't teach your baby sign, your child will always be at a disadvantage because they will not have been exposed to a complete language system which will stunt both their signing and written and possible spoken English. Your ENT advice is just straigtht wrong. I'm from a rural area so I totally get you needing to stay with them. Do they seem open to learning new information? Someone above suggested information from the Laurent Clark center. Even "hearing" universities and places like Johns Hopkins have studies that show a child needs to be exposed to a complete language system by they are 7. Maybe you could tell the ENT you really appreciate their concern and that they seem to have your child's best interests at heart, however everything you have seen shows that a Deaf child needs to be exposed to both sign and English. Again your baby might not speak as quickly but they will have a much better grasp of advanced English later in life which is more important than rushing spoken English and knowing it will be stunted.

Please feel free to ask me any questions! Welcome to AllDeaf, and the Deaf community as a whole. We take care of our own!
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
Actually, that's exactly what he said! "Sign language stunts verbal language development." Okay, many children raised in bilingual households are "late talkers," but ultimately they learn to use both languages proficiently. Since my daughter literally relies on technology in order to successfully communicate in English, wouldn't it be prudent to offer her a "back-up" method of expression- just in case her hearing technology fails her?

Your experience being "mainstreamed" is what I fear will happen to my daughter. Because you were bright, you were still successful in an all-verbal learning environment - but imagine how much easier it could have been on you if taught in a deaf-friendly learning style. Perhaps you wouldn't have felt the same isolation.


Unfortunately not. The nearest audiologist is an hour away and her ENT is over three hours. None of the nearby universities or community colleges offer ASL so I'm feeling very "other."

And thank you for your sweet words. :redface::)
Contact your state's School for the Deaf. You might end up moving closer to the Deaf School or even to a State that has an excellent Deaf School
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
Just wanted to point out, I would look more into the bi bi (bilingual bicultural) method than TC. I went Deaf in kindergarten in the early 90s. I grew up in a TC classroom. TC was the predecessor to bi bi. I used hearing aids and later a BAHA (bone anchored hearing aid) and used an FM system in class. I went to speech therapy. However I also used a form of sign however it was signed English, which is actually NOT a natural fluent language system, and does not work in the brain. the same way as ASL English, French, Swahili, whatever it is. That has put me at a huge disadvantage later down the line because I think only in English and don't have complete fluency in ASL so I can't always completely communicate with the Deaf community but because I'm also severely Deaf, I can't always completely communicate with the hearing community (have to be with someone in person, looking right at them, a foot or two away from them, etc.) My written English is my best language but I can't always write. I'm also a unique situation because I did learn English like a hearing child. If I had been born Deaf however my English skills would not be as good and if I was only in the same kind of TC classroom the ASL I'm properly learning now would be harder for me. I feel like I've been put at a disadvantage because of this. It's not that my teachers and parents didn't have the best intentions for me, this was the best method to use in the 90s. However now bi bi has been developed, the idea is you expose a Deaf child to ASL as their primary language because it's the natural language they will easily be able to pick up just like a hearing child picks up spoken English. Then once they have this complete language you teach English to them as a second language. You start early like this but you teach it in the context of their native language ASL. It's like teaching Spanish speaking young children English and by late elementary school at the latest they are completely fluent at both languages because language acquisition is really best in children before age 7 due to brain development.

I hope this all makes sense! If you don't teach your baby sign, your child will always be at a disadvantage because they will not have been exposed to a complete language system which will stunt both their signing and written and possible spoken English. Your ENT advice is just straigtht wrong. I'm from a rural area so I totally get you needing to stay with them. Do they seem open to learning new information? Someone above suggested information from the Laurent Clark center. Even "hearing" universities and places like Johns Hopkins have studies that show a child needs to be exposed to a complete language system by they are 7. Maybe you could tell the ENT you really appreciate their concern and that they seem to have your child's best interests at heart, however everything you have seen shows that a Deaf child needs to be exposed to both sign and English. Again your baby might not speak as quickly but they will have a much better grasp of advanced English later in life which is more important than rushing spoken English and knowing it will be stunted.

Please feel free to ask me any questions! Welcome to AllDeaf, and the Deaf community as a whole. We take care of our own!
I don't think she meant literal TC, meaning speech and Sign together. I think she means the philosophy of TC, where everything is given from the get go, so the CHILD can chose.....I think she wants her kid bilingal and bimodal
 

zeefour

Active Member
I don't think she meant literal TC, meaning speech and Sign together. I think she means the philosophy of TC, where everything is given from the get go, so the CHILD can chose.....I think she wants her kid bilingal and bimodal

Ohhhhh that makes more sense!!! Sorry!! I have the education types on my brain. I'm with an awesome ASL class and teacher who have been working on me to get my cued speech and signed English to turn into ASL. It's been a lot of hard work (even though the hearing kids in class think I have it easier lol, we are working on two very different things). Anyway I have been writing a lot of our journals we turn in about my experience and being stuck between Deaf and hearing for so long and then also analyzing the evolution of Deaf ed and doing critiques on my own educational experience.

But yeah again sorry, anything that pushes bilingualism is awesome!!! :)
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
Ohhhhh that makes more sense!!! Sorry!! I have the education types on my brain. I'm with an awesome ASL class and teacher who have been working on me to get my cued speech and signed English to turn into ASL. It's been a lot of hard work (even though the hearing kids in class think I have it easier lol, we are working on two very different things). Anyway I have been writing a lot of our journals we turn in about my experience and being stuck between Deaf and hearing for so long and then also analyzing the evolution of Deaf ed and doing critiques on my own educational experience.

But yeah again sorry, anything that pushes bilingualism is awesome!!! :)
Oh that sounds neat! Would you recomend Cued Speech as a "piece of the puzzle?" I know her baby is young, and most CS is present in a purely educational context ...meaning she won't have to worry about it for a few years yet, but when it comes time for reading, would CS be helpful?
 

deafdyke

Well-Known Member
Oh that sounds neat! Would you recomend Cued Speech as a "piece of the puzzle?" I know her baby is young, and most CS is present in a purely educational context ...meaning she won't have to worry about it for a few years yet, but when it comes time for reading, would CS be helpful?
And for lurkers....I'm NOT pushing oralism. I'm simply wondering if CS could be used like Hooked on Phonics for some deaf kids.
 
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