Friday, March 30, 2012

ASL Crusade With Special Needs Ryan Gosling.

I killed this horse long ago, I know.

Deaf kids need ASL.

For some, that horse is alive and kicking.

This morning, I'm at Owen's school, speaking to the Early Intervention group at the school director's request. This is a group of parents with Deaf kids under age three, who are still considering all the educational options for their children.

I don't know where these parents stand, how much they know about Deaf culture and the Deaf community.

I don't know how 'normal' they want their children to be.

I do know that my job today is to sell them on ASL.

A  friend sent me this, which I've printed up and will give to the group;

I am an Oral success.

At around two and a half years old, I started talking.I started to learn to read at four years old.
Today I can (if I so choose), order a hamburger at McDonald’s without having to repeat myself.
I can speak to family, friends, and strangers, and they can understand me without problems.
I can call my children to dinner from another room, or sing them a good night song.
I can lipread with fairly good accuracy, and in a one-to-one situation, I can usually handle myself well.
I came to think of myself as a “Hearing person that cannot hear.”
This, you call a success.

Despite my speech, I still cannot hear.
In a group conversation of two or more, I usually find myself lost within five minutes.
I’d rather be alone with a book than with non-signing people at dinner or at a big family gathering.
This, you call a success?

I am a mainstreaming success.
Without the help of an interpreter, note-taker, or any support services, I attended public schools and got good grades.
I progressed at grade level, and learned to read well beyond my age and grade level.
I eventually got a Ph.D. from a major Hearing university.
This, you call a success.

In the “mainstream,” I always felt alone.

For thirteen years, I could count the number of my “friends” on one hand, and still have fingers left over.
These friends were themselves the “misfits” and “outcasts” who could not gain friendships with the “in group.”
I was bullied, shunned, and quietly ignored by both the “cool kids” and the “not so cool” kids.
I was pushed to the brink of a mental breakdown. One day, I stabbed one of my “friends” with a pencil – not because he’d done something bad to me, but because it was what I really wanted to do to those “other kids.”
I got labeled “emotionally disturbed.”
This, you call a success?

I am an ASL success.
I went to a school for the Deaf.
I learned to sign.
I was in school plays, on sports teams, and involved in student government.
Today, I teach Hearing students at a major Hearing university.
I own my own house and two cars.
I am married and have two children.
I cannot count the number of my friends on my fingers and toes, because I don’t have enough fingers and toes.
Some of my friends are Hearing; most are Deaf.
I no longer dread sitting at a table when I am surrounded by people who sign.
With ASL, I feel alone no longer.
This, you call a failure.

by Donald Grushkin

I love that.

Most, no, almost ALL of the Deaf people I've encountered online and in real life, who WEREN'T given ASL as children, consider it a mistake, and had to struggle to learn as teenagers or adults.

I'm a little nerved up about doing this.  Because I do feel so strongly about it, and I don't know if I'm going to face any strong feelings in the opposite direction.  I don't deal with conflict very well.

I'm probably going to fucking cry at some point.

Which is where my dear friend Ryan comes in.

Oh Ryan. That is very sweet of you.  But just so you know; the though of you nekkid will do precious little to calm me, or any female, down. 

Oh fuck it.  Let's go. You're coming with me.

See what else Ryan is up to in the Special Needs community with Sunday and the gang.


  1. I'm all gobsmacked.

    I took ASL in college (i was trying to become multilingual) and we discussed this issue in depth.

    now some upteen years later, its STILL an issue? (i am not connected to the deaf community, so i will claim absolute ignorance except what you post)
    this is entirely shocking to me. and frankly i don't get it. I would think the statistics, anecdotal evidence and fucking common sense would have eventually settled this.
    *shakes head* Deaf kids/people need ASL. Period.


    Tell them that a speech therapist told you that communication is communication and ESSENTIAL to the brain and it's synaptic formation/development especially in the early years of language acquisition.

    You can always learn to speak BUT the words in your head, the connections when your brain is ready and primed and set to go (which is especially HUGE around age 2) means that language has to MAKE SENSE. Words/ what objectifies something has to make sense.

    ASL does that for the brain: it shows that an arbitrary symbol for something STANDS in for that thing in communication and thought. There is hearing hearing and brain hearing. Your ears either hear or they don't, and your brain either hears it or it doesn't. BUT for the brain to hear, the connections/junctures must be there. Physically formed. Like a highway.

    ASL: because you don't want to waste a day without the brain learning WORDS.

    Don't fear the ASL: it's your friend.

    You have to first HEAR before you can LEARN. ASL becomes the brain hearing.

    And if it helps, I'm picturing Ryan Gosling nekkid right now too and it's not helping me. AT ALL.

  4. You'll do great! Your passion will carry you through the nerves. You are doing a good thing and if even one parent considers ASL due to what you say, it is a SUCCESS!

  5. OK, Tulpen help me here---are there poeple/parents who don't want ASL taught at a young age??? I don't understand why you wouldn' me understand. I'm coming at this from an outside perspective and don't want to insult--and picturing Ryan is just addling my brain, I have to tell you.

  6. Oh holy hell I'm sending you all my mental support right now. Because I freaking HATE when I feel so passionately about something that I get teary-eyed. I don't want anyone to think this means I'm weak or emotional or on my damn period.

    I mean, I might be. Weak. Or emotional. Or on my period.

    But when I FEEL something passionately, my eyes water. My heart pounds. I shake with the importance of it all. I just want people to understand how much I mean what I'm saying.

    So girl - you go get 'em today.
    And remember that I know that you know that you are so damn strong.

  7. I believe you will be the voice of reason to any of those parents who would think about depriving their children all that communication.

    I belive in you, and Ryan, of course.

  8. Part of me understands, on some level, how you wouldn't want to single-out a kid by having the kid learn sign language if there was a hope that they might be able to carry on . . . but, at the same time, you don't want to single-out a kid who loses a leg by giving them a prosthetic leg. But you do it, because it's what's best for them.

    Because those people who truly believe that first bit? They're dead-certain that "having a kid who has to sign" reflects poorly on them. And, well, fuck them.

  9. i hope ryan makes an appearance and a plea in front of this group along with you!

    and if he does it in the NUDE, i daresay everyone will take his (and your) recommendation to heart! ;)

  10. Tuck Ryan in your front jeans pocket, and off you go. Good luck, you're going to rock it :)

  11. Good luck! But how can you go wrong with Ryan on your side? (And your awesome self?)

  12. I am so intrigued. What group of parents are you meeting with and bringing Ryan? :)
    You are awesome as usual. Hope you are doing well.

  13. I think you'll do great. Sell it, sistah!! My son was pre-verbal for some time, so we used a simplified form of sign language with him as a toddler. I'm so happy we had that, otherwise we would have missed most of his needs and wants! Signing in public the first times can be really daunting, I remember feeling really self-conscious, but you don't even notice you're doing it after a while. You've been so eloquent promoting ASL on your blog, I have no doubt you'll be able to help the other parents make the right choice. Good luck!! And *please* send nekkid Ryan my way once you're done with him!! ;)

  14. Just want to throw my two cents in: Kick Some Ass, Sea Bass! You can do this! And...send Ry-Ry my way when you are done with him. Especially if he is nekkid.

  15. thank you for all of the advocacy that you do. I know that some times it's fucking hard. You want to lay in your bed and not wake up (well I do) but you can't, you have a child that you have to fight for.
    Thank you.
    It's people like you who create change.
    We need more of you.

  16. Thing is...our deaf kids CAN hear! My daughter doesn't struggle and lipread, she understands. She can understand the spoken language of strangers without lipreading, and she does it every day.

    Also, who says that she has to be mainstreamed because she is oral? My daughter isn't. She is surrounded by deaf peers and teachers of the deaf and deaf adults...all oral.

    My daughter is in plays, she is popular, she reads and writes and thrives and has language, it just isn't signed language.


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