Language has always been my passion – whether in the form of creative writing or communicating in the tongue of another country. As an undergraduate I studied every language I could fit into my schedule: Russian, Spanish, Japanese – even Egyptian hieroglyphs! Outside of school, I added Italian and Hungarian to my list of loves and traveled and taught abroad. In 1999, I earned an advanced degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. In my course work on second language acquisition and other related topics, I learned about how sign language could be a child’s first language before learning to speak any other.
When I became a mom, I started using some signs with my son Isaac, now 7, when I happened on a one-off class in a parent’s circle. I took home the hand-out on a few first signs and played around with it. A couple friends were also using ASL with their babies and one of them introduced me to the Signing Time videos. Both my son and I loved them, and when he started signing back to me, I was thrilled. And I could see how excited he was to be understood. Later, when he started to speak, signing helped take away the ambiguity of his budding, but muddled speech (Is he saying duck or truck? Does he mean ball or boat?).
Isaac has a brother now. – I have a little boy named Rhys who was born in August of 2011. I naturally picked up signing again, starting at around 6 months old with food words. Right around the same time, a neighbor had a new grandson arrive who was diagnosed with profound hearing loss. I found myself on the Signing Time website again, looking for information and links to send her. That’s when I discovered I could become certified to teach baby sign classes and I jumped at the chance.
Rhys loves to see “his babies” signing and actually requests them (by doing the sign for “baby” or for “sign”). If they are putting on a hat, he wants his; if they are learning the word for apple, I better have one in the house for him!
I am currently also enrolled in other ASL courses to further my knowledge of the vocabulary and structures of the language and continue my understanding of Deaf culture.
In addition to teaching ASL to small children and their parents, I am also a writer of personal essays and poetry, and I teach adult and teen workshops on poetry, creative writing and story telling. See PoetRoar.com for more information.