The boys have attached to us unusually well, so I didn't have a lot of "adoption issues" to blog about. The focus of my blog naturally transitioned to the language development happening in our home. Even with our backgrounds in the Deaf World (husband is Deaf, I'm a fluent signer for over 15 years), Ken and I were daily astounded at what we were seeing in front of our face. So we began filming the boys when we could and sharing their progress online.
We had three birth children before adopting the boys. Of course, we signed with all three of them and they could each sign before they could talk, but it was different with them. We made some mistakes along the way, and Ken was gone all day at work, so the kids and I talked without signing the majority of our day. The kids would sign in the evenings when Ken was home, but only if he was in the same room. Because of this, we found ourselves having to work extra hard to play "catch up" around the time they were 8, 6, and 4. Their speech had quickly passed their ASL ability, which is not a good thing when one of your parents is Deaf. They could always sign, but during this time we realized we had all just gotten lazy and Ken and I had let them slide when it came to ASL fluency. The younger two would often depend on the oldest to communicate for them. Well, several arguments and a LOT of hard, strategic work later, the kids caught up. I'm thankful we caught and corrected our mistake back then because they are truly, naturally bilingual. It's a beautiful thing!
With the boys, it's been immensely different. Ken and I learned from our mistakes the first time, so are much more strategic (I use that word often) in the way we communicate and require the boys to communicate back to us. A contributing factor is that Travis is Deaf. Since he's Deaf, the kids and I sign all day. Tian has to sign in order to communicate with his best playmate, closest friend and brother. The older Brownies model language to the boys all day long. Ken and I do, the boys grandparents sign when we see them every week. The consistant exposure to language that is accessible to them is the major reason the boys have progressed so quickly. We homeschool, so both boys are exposed to ASL 24/7. Tian hears us speak, too. He hears the TV, radio, and lots of overheard conversation, so I don't worry about his speech. When he does choose to talk, he's speaking very well. He chooses to sign more often, which makes sense considering his environment.
I can't imagine where they would be if we had wasted these first six months with them taking them to audiologist appointments, speech classes, and trying to figure out language apart from their superhighway eyes! Will we eventually do hearing aids? Possibly for Tian, but it Travis is 100% Deaf, so hearing aids are pointless for him. Will we do speech classes? Yes! We'll most likely try those out some time this year even. It just won't be the center of our hopes, our joy, our world, or the value we place on the boys.
But I digress...
Tian came to us just two days before his second birthday. We quickly realized he could hear well at least on his left side. He would babble, but our Chinese guides told us that other than two "baby-talk" words, he wasn't saying anything understandable. When spoken to in Mandarin, he seemed to understand a lot. He would communicate with us by pointing, whining, crying, smiling, and saying two words we weren't sure about.
Travis, who had just turned three, came to us with ZERO language. His only form of communication was pointing, crying, laughing or facial expressions. He could hear absolutely nothing, so we knew that meant he had lived three years with no language. When he was really upset, he would bang his head on the floor or crib. He would hit himself on the head. He would drool. He would also giggle and laugh and smile when he was happy.
|First evening together. Travis doesn't like Tian to get too close.|
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