Yesterday was more of a challenge for me as I was tested by sweet Romy. I’m not completely sure how much she can hear when wearing her hearing aids but I always talk anyway while using my limited signing abilities. The morning was going great. It only took me 4 guesses to pull down the game she wanted to play. If you’re ever wondering what the sign for cherry is, here you go:
She didn’t want to actually play High-Ho Cherry-O. But the cherries were fun to play with, push around, pick up, put in and pull out of the buckets, etc…. After about 15 minutes of playing around with the little plastic cherries, she went over to the bin labled “Mr. Potato Head/Elmo.” Check out this super organized play room! Each bin is labeled and actually contains what it is supposed to! the kids are under strict orders to only have one bin out at a time.
OK, so in order to maintain this level of organization, we needed to put the cherries away. I began to pick up and signed for her to help me.
In true 4-year-old fashion, she crossed her arms, tucked in her chin and scowled at me, breaking the stare only to look at the bin she wanted and back at me. Not knowing all of the signs, I nodded my head no and told her she needed to help me first and then we could play with the bin. Nothing. I sign what I can and repeat the sentence. … Nothing. OK. Has she heard me?
Am I communicating clearly enough to move on to consequences? Its a little tricky. But I gather from her attitude and knowing that she knows what it means when I pick up toys and sign for her to help.
So I tell her she can *help or *time out (signified by pointing to my arm where a watch should be and raising the pointing hand to an O shape. I repeat a couple of times, looking at her…still nothing…and then count. On my fingers of course.
1…2…3…ok. *time out I sign. She sits down.
Hmm…Surely she knows what is going on and understands exactly what she is doing. I walk from the play room toward the time out spot and point. Then I sign *time out again. Nothing.
Time to pick her up and put her in time out. I get her to the spot and walk away and then the fit begins. Now, with a hearing child, at four years old I have a very clear picture of how to handle this situation. Not so much when the majority of my signs at this point are food items!
We did eventually resolve it, she calmed down, we picked up the cherries, we played with Mr. Potato Head. I spoke of it briefly with Romy’s Mom and she assured me I did great.
These moments are a struggle for me. Not just because I am not proficient in ASL. Even if I knew it all, how do I really know how much she understands? She is a very sweet kid but definitely seems to be used to getting her way and not sharing and I wonder how much of her behavior has been allowed because of the communication challenge.
This is a much longer post that I intended it to be, but imagine it. How would you discipline a child without talking? With such limited communication? I don’t want to just know enough sign to get by, and I don’t want Romy to know enough just to get by. I want her and I to be able to thrive! At four years old, most little girls I know are chatter boxes! It saddens me that she is missing out on this both relationally and otherwise. Just as she would have learned to speak hundreds of words by now, shouldn’t she be able to speak hundreds of signs? Maybe she can? This is such a new world for me and I am loving the challenge