Saturday, August 27, 2011

Travis at Six Weeks

Travis is nothing short of amazing.  Really, he's just proving that a 3-year window of no language doesn't have to be a life sentence nor does it mean he will always be behind.  The more he's with us, the more we can tell he hears nothing.

He's already communicating in phrases.  These phrases started the other day when he went up to his dad, tapped him, then signed "DADDY!  TURTLE!" then pointed to turtle.

Why is this such a big deal?  After 6 weeks of exposure to ASL (a natural language to him since his eyes are his superhighway), he knows he can
1. tap people to get their attention.  When we got him, he would just hold his hands up and cry.  Now, he approaches us and taps us on the leg or arm.  He taps his dad, me, his siblings, and even tapped our dentist to tell him he saw a train.  (I should add that he does still whine at times when he wants something, but he watches us with great interest so he can learn how to communicate his wants and needs.)
2. call his dad by name when addressing him
3. identify what he wants by name
4. show his dad where it is.
This is his first sentence.  "Daddy! Look at the turtle!"

Just yesterday, he had a piece of chocolate cake.  (His first taste of it for all we know.)  He was an instant fan and asked for more.  I gave him one more bite and he asked for even more.  I told him we were "all done" with the cake.  "FINISH!"  He looked up on the counter, spying the cake, pointed, and signed "CAKE."
He studied me intently while I told him this twice.
While he was watching me, he was forming the sign "NOW".  This was a new one for him.  He didn't have his hands exactly right, so he worked until his hands were in the perfect "Y" position and signed NOW.  He looked at me with a grimace and shook his head "no" while signing NOW (meaning "not now"), then signed "GRAPES. YES. CAKE LATER."  "Later" was also new to him.  At first, he signed it with the "ILY" handshape instead of the "L."  He thrust his hand forward toward me so I would "fix" his hand to make it correct.  We love seeing him do this and he does it often.  He's not satisfied until he gets it right.  We think we have a perfectionist on our hands.  Oh, it reminds me...I put up a poster of the alphabet in English and ASL.  He copied every single handshape, practicing until he had it right.  He'll be signing his ABCs in no time!

He mimics language conversations and it is SO cute!  In the mornings, Travis lies between Ken and me.  Ken and I visit and he watches.  He has started adding to the conversation, stringing some unrelated signs he knows with some nonsense hand movements.  The other morning it was like this:
hands moving FAN TRUCK HANNAH hands moving DADDY MOMMY LOVE hands moving TIAN TRAVIS FAN YES pointing out the window YES.

Travis understands that Ken and I use ASL to communicate.  He's copying how our conversation looks.  He's "babbling" just like any toddler would.  And at 6 weeks, we are impressed, but not surprised.  We just wish more people could witness what constant exposure to visual language can DO for a deaf child!  Yes, even (I would say especially) a profoundly deaf child who has had zero language exposure for his first three years.

A few things Travis can tell us:
He loves us.  We love him.  He needs to potty. He needs to poop.  He wants food.  He wants: milk, crackers, bread, cake, grapes, water, watermelon, meat, eggs, etc.  He wants to put on his shoes.  He wants us to look at something.  He wants to ride his bike. His brother is crying. Daddy is sleeping. I could go on and on.  Most of these statements are two-sign phrases or one sign with a pointing reference.

Personality-wise, Travis is just a doll.  Certainly, he has his toddler moments and can push his little brother or fight over a toy or cry because he's not getting what he wants, but overall, his temperament is very easy-going and sweet.  He loves to help us with chores: sweeping, handing me clean dishes from the dishwasher, and putting away groceries.

Even though he's still not Tian's biggest fan, he shows compassion to him.  Today, Tian was wailing because I had the audacity to not allow him to stand on the windowsill.  I was holding Tian when Travis came up behind him, kissing the back of his head and patting him.

He loves to kiss and hug, especially first thing in the morning or at bed time, but really, any time.  In the mornings, he smiles from ear to ear, lying between Ken and me, hugging both of our necks and having us kiss his cheeks at the same time...over and over again.  He takes turns kissing us on the mouth, then on the forehead, then on the head.  Then he pulls us together so we all three kiss at the same time.  He will sign DADDY LOVE TRAVIS. MOMMY LOVE ME.

Yes, we certainly do!


  1. Sarah -- just catching up on your blogposts. Loved reading of the progress Travis is making! It's awesome just how quickly he's learning things and that his personality is just pouring out in the process :)

    I know we need to setup a Skype appointment in the near future -- things are a bit busy now, but there should be sometime soon enough that we can do that.

  2. Where is the "love" button? I love reading about Travis' language explosion ~ so cool how language acquisition follows similar phases regardless of how you are gaining language.


  3. This is all SO exciting! I can't help but think what a great learning experience this would be for all the students in ASL/Deaf studies classes. It would be so cool to have a lot of this on video. Makes me think of James Womack and how excited he would be to watch these boys learning! Love to you all!

  4. Oh Sarah ... it's amazing. I just love reading about this and seeing what is happening in his life in such a short time. He must feel like he entered a fairy tale. It's so awesome that he just loves you like this - full of affection and happiness. God is so good.