I wish I could take the credit for this one… but I’m told it was Ollie that came up with it… However I’m still speculating that it was his amazing interpreter that came up with this incredible idea…
Every morning in Ollie’s ‘general-ed’ class he teaches a “Sign of the Day” (much like the daily signs we’ve started putting up on social media). It’s the cutest thing watching him beam as he walks up to the front of the class. He patiently waits for his moment of glory when his teacher will ask what they’re learning today. To say he’s excited is an understatement. I have never seen a human as capable as he, of looking like he might explode with confetti and glitter at any moment. He honestly looks like he’ll burst from all of the positive emotion he’s bottling up. (No wonder he’s so happy to go to school every day!)
I expected one thing from this… That 24 second graders would learn some sign language.
What I didn’t expect was the positive impact it would have on his social life. Kids in his class have always been very sweet and kind to him. I’ve never thought he had a lack of love or acceptance at school. However after weeks of learning sign language, the kids started to engage in conversations with him at lunch, on the playground, in the morning to greet him… Ollie was suddenly socializing.
This has been the most delightful discovery. I have waited years for Ollie to learn how to play with others. He loves others and can enjoy being around people. But actually playing a game or having a conversation has been slow coming. I didn’t realize that part of the need was for a shared language. He always has an interpreter. There is no language barrier, technically… But even I can identify with the feeling that it’s difficult to speak with someone through another person. There’s definitly comfort in being able to socialize one-on-one.
So here we have it… Ollie hanging out with his peers and playing and chatting about anything and everything…
To think it all started with a fun idea and a ‘yes’ from the teacher brings me so much hope for life. You never know what awesome thing can get started from a simple thought. One thing leads to another and suddenly your Deaf child has friends.
I just might burst with confetti and glitter myself. 🙂
Note: Even if your Deaf or Hard of Hearing child doesn’t use sign language to communicate… I think it’s so fun to help people learn if it’s something that you like as well! It’s a great way to talk across a room or quietly with one another. Soooo fun 🙂