We Are Not a Family of Signers

We fought long and hard to get Micah a Voice. I documented it here. Before we secured this device, we had hoped that it was a stepping stone for Micah between the lands of No Speech and Speech. We've since come to learn that he'll most likely not ever be a resident in full standing in the land of Speech. This makes us so much more grateful for his Voice. We've also changed the way we think about the device. At first we were happy with it stating one word requests and having just the bare essentials listed on it. Now we're trying to encourage full sentences as requests, and adding everything that the kid could possibly need to say on it. Except that it's hard to predict, so we're still at a loss.

Needless to say, we're eternally grateful to companies like Prentke-Romich and Dynavox that make such technological wonders for kids like ours. Micah is incredibly adept at getting his point across, but it's good to be able to say something on occasion when he's around people who are unfamiliar with him. I'm asked so very often if we're not teaching him sign language, or any other form of communication. And because it's Micah we're talking about, the answer isn't a simple yes or no.

We started with sign language years ago, under the tutelage of a speech therapist. I purchased books that taught me how to teach, and we've taught all the kids signs for basic things so that they can encourage Micah as well. But Micah's lack of speech does not indicate a lack of reasoning skills. That boy adds 2 and 2 pretty darn quick, and he's aware that our family does not use sign language to communicate with each other. He's also observant enough to know that nobody else in his life uses signing either. The boy only wants to conform, after all, just like everyone else in the world. Nobody wants to be the freak. Micah chooses not to sign, because it makes him different. He knows sign language for a lot of things, but uses it sparingly. If at all.

So why do we not push this? Isn't this a viable form of communication, you say? And the answers are "we should" and "yes, it is." Many, many people use sign language to talk, and it works well. But we've decided in our world that it really isn't feasible. There are so few people that can understand sign language here, that teaching Micah to use it would be as effective as teaching him Russian. People would definitely know that he's talking to them, but they'd be clueless what he's saying. We'd be setting him up for frustration, and no parent wants that for their kid.

This puts us back at Square One, where we rely on a speaking device to say for our son what he cannot say for himself. And in the meantime, we encourage him to talk. And we listen so very closely to what he's saying to try to decipher words and meanings. And mostly we marvel greatly at what the boy overcomes to say simple words like Mom and Dad while pretending outwardly that he's just a normal little boy talking to his family. Because that's just what he wants to be.



Flea said...

He's an adorable little boy. Y'all have done such a fantastic job with him. With all of them. :)

Annette W. said...

Sounds like you are doing just fine!!

Cecily R said...

I think you do EXACTLY what that boy needs. It works for him, and you, and that's what matters.

I also think that he is yummy.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Cecily - I think you have done exactly what Micah needed and what works for him! He is lucky to have parents who are flexible and ask the world around him to adapt a little rather than force HIM to change to fit into the picture.

imbeingheldhostage said...

And I agree with Driven who agrees with Cecily :-)
No one who knows you could ever doubt that you always do what's best when it comes to your kids.

I am REALLY behind over here! My living room may get destroyed if I try to catch up right now...