Kat Reading

Kat Reading

Thursday, June 28, 2012


So, I still have lots more to share about our weekend at ASL camp!

Miss Kat had a great time hanging out with the other kids, but....ummm....she wouldn't really sign! She enjoyed the classes and the ASL skits and games, but in her moment to moment communication, she still insisted on speaking. Before we left we had discussed where we were going, and why. She was nervous (as I explained before) but she seemed excited. When we arrived she was a little overwhelmed and would check with me for clarification or explanation when people would sign to her. (I would just sign back what they said to her and she was fine. I just think it was a case of the nerves.) But as she started to get comfortable, you could see her facial expressions and body language sort of "return" to her. (She has always been a super expressive kiddo!)

So, when we first arrived, we went to our dorm room and Miss Kat was chatting at me. I told her that when we were alone, it was fine, but that when were with others, I would be signing and I would expect her to do the same. She said she understood. Yeah, that didn't happen!

Most people were very nice about Miss Kat not signing, or very poorly signing. They were patient and encouraging. That helped her a lot. But, when she felt like it was "down time", like at lunch time or just hanging out, she reverted back to speaking. When we were in classes, or doing an activity (or when we did our presentation of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "The Three Billy Goats Gruff") she signed. Her face and body are so expressive, I just love it! There is one more snafu though...she would often try to sign exactly what she was thinking in English...including "am", "the", "is", etc....yikes!

There was one incident at lunch was was a little crazy. Miss Kat was sitting next to me and she kept talking. There was a Deaf adult at the table. The Deaf woman finally turned to Miss Kat and said "Why won't you sign? Your mom is such a fluent signer. You are so lucky! When I was little, none of my family could sign at all. And now, I'm Deaf, and I can't understand when you talk. We need sign. I see that you say "What?" a lot (which actually wasn't true, she asked me to voice other people's ASL WAY more than she struggles with understanding people speak, but that is neither here nor there), you need to sign because you are deaf." At which point Miss Kat said, "No, I'm hearing.".....oh crap!!! That is the first and only time she has EVER said that! She knows she's deaf, she is around d/Deaf adults and children and has never once expressed that she wishes that she wasn't deaf or that she wants to be hearing, and then all of a sudden she decides (at Deaf camp none the less!) that she IS hearing?! I wanted to hide under a rock!

So, we had a great time. I feel like Miss Kat gained some confidence in her ASL, we were able meet some families, and hopefully encourage them. Our next great adventure begins tonight...AG Bell here we come! (Oh, and you KNOW that Miss Kat is going to decide to do nothing but sign this weekend!)


Anonymous said...

very good - not surprised that she would say "hearing" as it is a state of mind from oral school practices. Keep her proficient in ASL! She will be a fine person.

Candy said...

It has nothing to do with 'state of mind from oral school practices', I can assure you, Anonymous.

I am from a deaf family. A CULTURALLY DEAF family. I am hard of hearing, meaning, I benefit so much with hearing aids and speak very well. I have a moderate-severe hearing loss.

What Miss Kat did has to do with her self esteem. She apparently has a high one. It is common among kids to be in denial about who they are whether they are deaf or not. I've done that when I was younger, pretended I was hearing or attempting to fit in with majority of the people in the world simply because the world is hearing. My culturally deaf family do not get upset, they allowed me to be ME! This is very important for families to allow kids to express whatever they feel, there is no right and wrong.

Again, this kind of behavior is common among kids. I think it's cute. It also indicates that Miss Kat has a very high self esteem which is GREAT! She's going to need that as well as many deaf/hh kids.

Mike said...

It could also be that Miss Kat does not know the term "hard of hearing" where she could accurately describe herself better instead of "hearing." I know exactly where she's coming from. I agree with Candy, her self esteem is high and wants to learn sign language. She wants to improve her speech skills. She also want to improve her auditory language receptive skills as well.

Dianrez said...

She's been in an oral environment, has developed a best style with her parents, and is probably out of practice. This can seesaw back and forth until her adult years when she settles on her most comfortable mode and preferred society. Other children she grows up with will have the same transitions.

A lot depends on the people she talks to, too. It's hard to sign when the other person barely signs, but if the other person signs fluently it stimulates one's own.

What's more important is development of knowledge and English reading skills. Knowledge comes from full communication and helps reading skills...make sure she is getting all of it.

Anonymous said...

I have another perspective to offer. I wonder if it's simply a "kid thing," when confronted with the choices of which language(s) to use, and when? I've been with plenty of KODAs and HOH people, including KODAs of very famous multi-generational Deaf adults. These kids were raised with ASL as their first language, and they also talk. When they socialized with hearing people, they talked, even when deaf people were standing right there. both Miss Kat and her mom sign ASL fluently and use it with each other, as well as speech. Maybe it's just a little confusing for a kid to know when to sign and when to talk. That's strictly my observation.

Even HOH adults, when they meet me, assume I am hearing (I'm not), and speak without signing to me, and seem clueless that I'm not understanding them. It never seems to occur to them that even though I'm signing to them, I'm not hearing. and it never occurred to me to tell them I'm deaf. I thought it was obvious? duh, I guess not.

it's always tricky when both ASL and English are spoken - a lot of people don't like to "sim-com," and it's hard to remember to switch.

Anonymous the First

Anonymous said...

She shouldn't sign because "shes deaf" I'm deaf and i use speech, and talk VERY VERY well, just like a normal "hearing" person. By reading this i don't think she's comfortable ASL

Alicia said...

I think this is actually typical for a lot of bilingual kiddos - whether hearing or deaf and regardless of what languages are used. It doesn't mean the language should be abandoned, anonymous. Sometimes they need a little extra prompting and practice to use both languages and to become comfortable.

Kids are not necessarily confused, its just a part of the process. Language mixing, while normal, shouldn't be encouraged. Its supposed to be a short phase, not prolonged (which is an issue - ie: SimCom).

TO said...

Some of what you're saying reminds me of my experiences growing up (hearing) speaking more than one language, with English being my dominant language, which I always was more fluent in than my parents' first language, Polish.

Sometimes you feel shy or weird using your 'other' language in a new context, especially if you're very aware that you don't have 100% native level fluency. That certainly happened to me.

And the 'hearing' comment kind of reminds me of that too -- if you feel like someone's trying to pigeonhole you, especially if in reality who you are is much more subtle than that, it tends to make you feel a bit rebellious :). Or if you feel like they're rejecting part of who you are (e.g. being Canadian, the English language!).

I actually got more comfortable using Polish outside the family when I didn't feel like it was shameful to not speak it perfectly, when I was around people who understood the role it had in my life (I learned it when I was little at home so it's not a foreign language, but neither is it my 'native' language in the way English is), and who accepted that I was Canadian and that the English language was a central part of who I was.

I also found it wonderful to know other people with similar bilingual upbringings, especially kids of immigrants, even if they weren't the same two languages. We had a lot of experiences in common.