I’m Sorry, Your Child Is Stupid

Dated: 17 Jun 2010
Posted by Rachel Coleman
Category: Crazy Little Thing Called Life
313 Comments

I asked myself, Rachel, if you only had 1 year left to blog. What would you write?

I would write this…

Our experience raising Leah is not typical, not typical at all. I dare say, we have successfully raised a deaf, bilingual child.

We did it in a school environment that called us “crazy.” In Leah’s Individual Education Program (IEP), where she transitioned from Early Intervention to preschool, we were asked,

“Why do you want ASL? No one else wants ASL.”

I didn’t care what the district said, because really, we had nothing… or was it everything, to lose.

The Parent Infant Program representatives from the state agencies told us that our child would graduate from high school with a third grade reading level. Then we asked them,

“Why do you believe that a child who cannot hear does not have the ability to learn?”

We asked them,

“What are you doing wrong? What is wrong with the education of deaf children in America?

These questions kept us awake at night. Why on earth was it acceptable that generations of deaf children were being failed by the only school systems available for them to attend? It became VERY, VERY clear that we could not and would not entrust our toddler’s education to such an admittedly broken system. They could guarantee that after TWELVE years of schooling Leah would have broken English and at age 18 she would be able to read like an 8 year old. They would not prepare her to compete with her hearing peers heading to college and into the work force.

The solution offered was an embarrassment and I imagined what the reaction to that statement would be if it was said about any other group of individuals… Take a deep breath and try out the following~

“I’m sorry, your child is black. They will graduate from high school with a third grade reading level.”

“I’m sorry to tell you that you can expect your child to graduate from high school with a third grade reading level because she’s a girl.”

Go ahead and fill in the blank- “Hispanic” “gay” “has blue eyes” “short”… fill in the blank!
ANY of those statements would be met with riots! No one would swallow it as truth! No one would stand for it! It wouldn’t just be the parents up in arms, the entire community would fight for those children!

Imagine that your state-funded school had the balls to say that about ANY child!! These are your tax dollars at work.

Now, my friends, let it sink in that this is the reality for parents just like me. The Utah School for the Deaf and Blind said, “statistically you can expect Leah to graduate from high school with a third grade reading level.” Parents of deaf children have been hearing that sickening statistic for years and not just in Utah- this is a nationwide epidemic. The worst part is… parents believe it! They look at their little deaf child and believe that their potential is limited because some stranger from a state organization says so.

Where is the class action lawsuit?

Every child with a disability is guaranteed a “free and appropriate education”.

This conversation should make you feel sick.
It should make you angry.
It should be on the local and national news repeatedly until it is resolved!

For some reason, Aaron and I didn’t believe them. Instead we believed that we could offer Leah something much better than that. We would do it. We didn’t know how, but we knew that she was deaf, not stupid.

We sought out deaf adults and found many who had college degrees and PhDs!! Proof that a deaf person could succeed academically! Most of these deaf adults had deaf parents. Their parents had never struggled to accept that their child was deaf. These deaf children were in a signing environment from day one. We asked deaf adults for their advice on raising our deaf child. We asked them because they had lived the life that we wanted Leah to live… a life without limits. We followed their advice. We looked to the Deaf Community as our compass. They told us that Leah’s first language should be American Sign Language. They said that once Leah had a solid first language (ASL), we could then teach her English through reading and writing.
Finally something that made sense!

We were excited to share this breakthrough with the Early Intervention team, with the School District, with all of those people who could make a difference for every deaf child. We told them what we had learned and what we wanted for our child and why we believed it would work. They looked at us like we were crazy. They told us we needed to pick a program that they offered, they weren’t going to make up a new program just for Leah Coleman. It was such a slap in the face to have them simply re-offer their broken system, since that was all they had.

We visited every preschool in their system. We drove hundreds of miles to do so. We were looking for a teacher, the right teacher. At each school we saw the same sad scenario, the deaf children did not have free, expressive conversations, they were signing by rote.

Each time we met the teacher they would ask, “What’s her name?”
I responded, “Ask her.”
“NO! Don’t tell me she can…” and they would turn to Leah, asking her in sign, “What’s your name?”
Leah responded by fingerspelling her name “L-E-A-H” and then showed them her Name Sign.
The teachers, one after another were stunned.
“How old is she?” They asked me.
I rolled my eyes. “Ask her.”
“NO!!!” They turned excitedly and asked Leah, “How old are you?”
Leah smiled “I’m two-years-old almost 3. I’ll be 3 in December.”

It was as if they had just discovered a new species. They were fascinated by her. Then they would then sit down with Leah and ask her everything they could think of. Leah chatted on and on about this and that, her favorite colors, foods and the people in her life. The teachers were completely engaged.

And every visit ended with them saying, “We really would love to have her in our class. She would be such a great language role model for the other children!”

It was nice that everyone wanted Leah, but I had a sick feeling in my stomach.
A nagging question.

Who would be Leah’s role model?”

There was no ASL classroom and so we created one. We chose a deaf teacher and then we wrote into Leah’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that she needed to be in a language rich environment, one where she had access to acquire her natural language, ASL. It sounds simple, really and no one was opposed to writing that in to her IEP… BUT… when we explained that ASL is a visual language and it requires two fluent signers in a room for a child to have natural language acquisition, the team was a little perplexed. See, that is how we were able to get Leah a one-on-one aide. Her aide was fluent in ASL and the teacher that we chose was deaf. Now there were two signers in the class and our child actually had an appropriate and effective language model.

In school Leah could not communicate with her peers. They stared at her blankly as she signed on and on about this and that. Then she started coming home signing like them. I was horrified! All of our hard work seemed to be dissolving right before my eyes! I asked, “What did you do today at school?” Leah would respond in a repetitive, almost robotic way, “BIKE-BIKE-BIKE” she signed, not making eye contact with me. Then “EAT-EAT-EAT” “PLAY-PLAY.”
“Leah. Leah. Look at me. What did you do at school today? I’m asking a real question.” Every day the same answers by rote. She would sign like that for about an hour and then finally ease back into being the expressive, happy kid we knew and loved.

We went to the school and visited the older grades. K-4 we saw the same thing. As I looked at the projects and work displayed on the walls in each classroom, it was obvious to me that these children were not doing grade appropriate work. As far as language level, Leah was testing at the level of the deaf 4th graders, but she was only three-years-old. We couldn’t put her in with nine-year-old.

We also created a Deaf Mentor program for Leah. Leah had a Deaf Mentor when we lived in Utah, a wonderful woman named Diane would come to our home each week and teach us ASL. There was no such program when we moved to Los Angeles. Luckily it was in her Individualized Family Service Plan(IFSP) and so we continued it. We were told that it would be up to us to find the deaf adult. We agreed. We found a deaf man who was a teacher working for our school system. That made it easy for them to pay him. John came to our home once a week for an hour and we turned our voices off and just signed.

People always ask us how we did it. How we were able to smash the statistics. How Leah can comfortably identify herself as hearing and as deaf. The above is just one piece of that puzzle. We knew that Leah’s success was ultimately up to us. We couldn’t even pretend that the current school system would carry her. We took on her education and success as our own responsibility.

Most importantly Aaron and I saw Leah as a wonderful little girl with a bright and limitless future. We saw her as all of that even when so many others… so many “professionals” only saw her as a deaf kid.

Tags: , , , , ,

313 Responses to “I’m Sorry, Your Child Is Stupid”

  1. Dadgineer Says:

    Not so much looking forward to what we are going to have to go through with Ollie. Hopefully things have progressed some since Leah was little. However, after our last IEP, I don’t know…

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    I don’t envy anyone going trough the process. There is no worse feeling than fighting a big broken establishment. We cried. We fumed. We prevailed.

    [Reply]

    Dana Reply:

    I was truly touched by this entry. I am a Child of Deaf parents. And I have always known that the Deaf community has been wrongfully portrayed as dumb. Proof of that is my beloved father, who in some cases has accomplished more than his hearing siblings. But it is a battle that I have fought all my life, to let people know that there aren’t any limits to what they can do and understand. They DO NOT have a mental disability. The Deaf community can reach as high as WE BeLieVe they can reach. If we place limits on them that’s what they’ll have. But if we trust in their incredible potential and allow it to sore, it will, and it will amaze us. Thank You Rachel for what can appear to be a small step but is in fact the first to a revolution. Thank You.

    [Reply]

  2. Kei Says:

    I just love you guys!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    We love you too! Ya know, William’s story is such a triumph as well. You have done amazing things for him in the area of school support.

    [Reply]

  3. Deann Says:

    you’re right. It made me squirm and think. I’m not even sure what to say. You are awesome, Leah is awesome, what great parents to do what they feel is right to make sure their daughters are not lost in the system.

    My 28 month old was tested last week at Early Intervention. She has the speech of a 15 month old. They said they can’t count her signing but if they could, she’s way ahead. I want her to talk. I just don’t know how to help her. I don’t know enough ASL to teach her more. I hope the therapist can help us but I feel lost.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Deann, I can’t believe they wouldn’t count the signs!

    WARNING: One of the biggest parenting pitfalls is allowing yourself to get stuck on the idea that you want them to talk… I dare say what you REALLY want is to be able to fully communicate with your child. You want to know her and you want her to know you. Does it really matter if that is through spoken words? If your child has the capability to speak, she will. you don’t have to be afraid of that any more. If she can do it. She will do it. Signing will not delay her speech. It will likely fuel her ability to learn.

    Is she deaf?

    [Reply]

    Deann Reply:

    You’re right Rachel, I want to communicate with her. Incredibly, I can, her siblings can, but no one else can unless they know sign. She has surprisingly few “tantrums” for a 2 year old. She is not deaf. EI said they might test her hearing again, but they did not. Watching her try to speak, she has a very difficult time making her mouth and tongue do what they should for each letter sound. I taught her older siblings what little sign I knew, we found Signing Time!, and of course we are doing the same with her, it’s just what I’ve known how to do on my own. (her big sister was in BST 1&2)

    [Reply]

    Beth Reply:

    My daughter is 2 1/2, and she has Down syndrome. Our early intervention wont count signs either. She has nearly 200. She only has a few actual spoken words that we can understand.
    Our coordinator also said that if she could count the signs, Lauren would also be very far ahead in language. Its so frustrating.

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Deann we went public with our choice to sign with Leah, even people from the state told us that we were choosing to isolate her. They said only her family would understand her… in answer we made Signing Time.

    Julia Reply:

    Deann… My son wasn’t able to speak until 4 years old and has some nice words now at 4 1/2. He has gotten alot of sings and ways to communicate from signing time. My son also has a weak jaw which makes it hard for him to form words. Although every child is differnt look into a “prompt” speech therapist. It is amazing.. My son has PDD-nos and we thought he might never talk either but we strongly feel that signing truly helped him. The Signing Time series is fantastic. Thank you Rachael for helping our children succeed.

    cammy Reply:

    Talk with you hands and listen with your eyes. An awesome phrase that I credit from a book that teaches ASL, I believe Gabriel Grayson. It is a great book to learn sign from. Also, try the websites, ASLpro.com and signingsavvy.com. They are great. I don’t have a deaf child, but I work with a family who’s primary communication is through sign. All these resources and sign courses on the college level have helped.

    [Reply]

    abby schrader Reply:

    Deann,

    We also have a daughter who was severely delayed in terms of speaking. No babbling, few tantrums, no language (except for mystery pop out words once or twice) until she was around 2 (even though she’d been in speech therapy a year at that point).

    Rachel is right (of course): ASL won’t delay the onset of speech and just will give your little one another way of communicating.

    The other thing to check out is the Hanen approach to language, which is communication-focused and very different than standard speech therapy. The latter failed for us; the former, which is much more child driven, worked well in conjunction with ASL. The best parent resource is It Takes Two To Talk. Basically, our daughter did not realize that vocalizing/speech or even sign was for communication purposes because she had a communication disorder (she was diagnosed at 3 as high functioning autistic). Once we unlocked her capacity to communicate, it turns out that her expressive vocabulary is actually well ahead of where it should be. Her pragmatics (how to use language) still lag behind, and we still need to work on communication and social skills with her, but her progress in the past year and a half has been amazing.

    Good luck with this—I know how frustrating all of this is from our personal experience.

    Abby

    [Reply]

    Jennifer Reply:

    I’m surprised they are not counting signs! I work in collaboration with ECI through the school district and see a case load of “babies” in their home. I have a protocol for receptive and expressive language and it includes sign language!

    Rachel, I think it is awesome you allowed Leah the opportunity of incidental language! I think that is one thing that some parents do not fully understand … or schools do not provide. So much language is learned incidentally, so it makes sense that we need to provide opportunities in which the students can overhear/see! Rock on!

    Another thing I want to throw out there. Sometimes us teachers, and parents get overly focused on the child’s speech/signing or lack thereof. Remember, we need to provide constant input in order to receive output. Provide rich language experiences … read, talk, sign, narrate your child’s life in sign … and when they are ready, you will see the output.

    I always tell my parents to advocate for their children! Some do, some don’t know how to or choose not to. Lucy and Leah are lucky to have two awesome parents!

    [Reply]

  4. Cathy Says:

    Leah is lucky to have you two for her parents! I teach and I can honestly say that I am not shocked by what you wrote, and that’s sad.

    Way to go, Leah, for breaking the statistics!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    You are right. Most teachers wouldn’t be shocked. You are in the middle of a system with a lot of holes in it that are “fixed” with bandaids. I know it puts you in a crazy position fighting for your students, and their rights and following your heart.

    [Reply]

  5. allie bestwick Says:

    WOW! this makes me especially grateful for our school sytem here in ks! :) we have a terrific deaf school and in our hometown many deaf / hard of hearing services. kudos to you and aaren for never excepting less than what she is capable of!!!!! :) GO LEAH! :)

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    allie,
    Great point! Sometimes the biggest difference is simply where you happen to live! Not everybody can up and move to an area that supports their chosen mode of communication, but if you can do it! (We considered Riverside CA, Framingham Mass, and Portland OR)

    It’s important to look ahead, look at the older children in your child’s program. Look at the test scores and the work of kids who are graduating high school so you have an idea of what is REALLY available to your child in your schools.

    [Reply]

  6. Anita Says:

    Whoa! I so appreciated getting another snipit of how you all learned ASL as a family. I know someone right now who could benefit from this experience in helping them get the right start for their child. I also see that there is more that I can and should be doing for my 4 year old daughter with mosaic Down syndrome. The whole IEP process is daunting to me, but mostly because I let it intimidate me when I should be using it to help my daughter. Just all around wonderful to read.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Bring a mentor to your child’s IEP meeting. It is much easier to get what YOU want when there is someone to back you up. Someone who know you are not crazy for asking. Don’t you DARE sign that IEP if you do not agree with it. You can leave the meeting with it unsigned. I have… many times.

    [Reply]

  7. Liz Says:

    That is the challenge we are facing now. We are going a different route, though the response has been somewhat the same. WE had maggie implanted at 12 months and so we are focusing on english at the moment, but whenever we bring up the idea of having her sign too the response is always, you have to pick one or the other, she can’t do both. I say why not? I’ve learned three languages, she not stupid, just deaf. She can learn just as much as any hearing child and she will. right now she signs and talks together, though true asl is going to be a challenge(for me, not her) I know she can do it. Thanks for your amazing example.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Liz, Leah is living proof that a child CAN do both. She is fluent in ASL, she is fluent in English. Her reading and writing skills are AMAZING and she wants to be an author. Leah Coleman has all of that… and guess what? Leah Coleman has a cochlear implant.

    Do not be bullied by people who do not LIVE your life with your child. They give recommendations but they will NEVER ask to take responsibility for the outcome. The outcome is yours to live with. Trust your instincts.

    Know that I am here to help.

    [Reply]

    Clifton L. Reply:

    I was just at a bar last night and a friend was telling me about his nephew who is acquiring SIX languages. Not just words of each, but is able to produce sentences and have conversations within each language. It’s amazing but the child is using them all and using them correctly with each person who uses that language.
    Flemish Sign Language
    American Sign Language
    British Sign Language
    spoken French
    spoken English
    spoken Flemish/Dutch
    And, guess what, the child is deaf. The child is in a rich language environment where different people are using different languages and he’s just picking it all up.

    [Reply]

  8. Emily Says:

    You are such an inspiration.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Paul Kiel Reply:

    Hello Rachel, I like your blog and your determination with Leah.

    Is she wearing cochlear implant? There is nothing in your blog about it. Someone thought Leah is.

    [Reply]

  9. Teena Says:

    We have a delayed child with no diagnosis-he’s very ill and no one knows why. We tried the Early Intervention Program, and he began imitating the other children as well, instead of being the bright, interactive child we knew. We finally pulled him out and I am homeschooling him, using Signing Time. He’s made a ton of progress, more than anyone though he could, because we, too, decided to make his education our business.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Teena, It sounds like you are doing it right. No one is more invested in a child than that child’s parents. We learned very quickly that professionals are just that… professionals. Very few of them have walked 2 steps in our shoes. They know what they learned in school, they know what they have seen, but most of the time they do not live it.

    In the past 9 years doing Signing Time I have met tens of thousands of children I probably have more “field hours” than most folks sitting in their offices. Technically I am NOT a professional, but I think that gives me the profound opportunity to see each child as something SO MUCH BIGGER than their diagnosis.

    I see miracles. I see possibilities. I see potential. You see it too:)

    [Reply]

  10. Ronai Says:

    Thank you once again for sharing another part of your amazing journey. I have several people I want to share this with ASAP :)

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    I started writing this a few months ago after an email “exchange” came across my desk. ;) Thank YOU

    [Reply]

    Ronai Reply:

    I thought this had a “familiar” ring to it ;) You ROCK!!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    It was originally entitled “Let Me Introduce Myself” but it got WAY too long so I ended up with this snippet

  11. Gisele Says:

    Ok Rachel,
    I’m mad, very disappointed…and annoyed! The “system” doesn’t work, everyone knows that. But I’m so happy you made a huge difference in Leah’s life and everyone that follows you and Signing Time! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Gisele, I’m so fascinated by the idea that “everyone knows that” the system doesn’t work and yet those who desperately NEED it to work feel so helpless. (sigh)

    [Reply]

  12. Emily Arveseth-Hoerner Says:

    Once again you are proving to the world what extrodinary people you and Aaron are. Not everyone is as amazing as you are. Thank God for you! Leah and Lucy are so lucky to have you as parents. The Arveseth family is so lucky to have you as friends.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Thanks Emily, Perhaps being a non-conformist has it’s perks ;) Though my parents may not have truly appreciated that side of me during my teenage years.

    [Reply]

  13. TheBlondeview Says:

    OH, I cannot tell you how HAPPY I am that you put this into writing! Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!

    We are fighting the good fight for Oliver with the school district(s)…but it is super important to have someone like you YELL IT OUT LOUD! Thank You for more motivation today to never, NEVER EVER give up!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Renee, I must admit I was a little hesitant to actually push the “Publish” button. Why is it so intimidating to tell the truth? Why do I always brace myself for attack? And then I remind myself, I’m not trying to prove anything. I am just telling my truth.

    [Reply]

    Ken Chun Reply:

    I’m not deaf, but I was born with spina bifida and I use a wheelchair. They tried to put me in a special education classroom just because I couldn’t walk. I’m always a little hesitant to hit the publish button myself on Facebook or Twitter. Never know what kind of reaction I’ll get for being myself (very honest and blunt).

    [Reply]

  14. LiturgyGeek Says:

    Wow! Thank you for this. I had a friend in HS who was Deaf. Because he was in honors classes, and had an interpreter for every course, it never occurred to me that his experience would be atypical, or that schools would resist a Deaf child’s natural language, or that schools would intentionally limit a child’s ability.

    Thank you for sharing your story. May it empower and strengthen other families!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    LiturgyGeek, in my HS there were a number of deaf kids. They attended many of the same classes together with an interpreter. When we found out Leah was deaf I couldn’t help but think back to my high school years and WISH I hadn’t been so scared to TRY to communicate with them. I never tried, even though I had wanted to. As I thought back, I could only remember one of their names. Ah retrospect… now that my child was “one of them.”

    [Reply]

  15. tjw Says:

    I applaud you and thank you for sharing this with us. I am a special ed teacher and please know there are some of us out there trying to fight the system right there with you. Too many times I hear them say we don’t offer certain programs and I can’t encourage parents enough to fight for their child. I see too many parents who don’t know enough and just accept what the district tells them. I am teaching my special ed kids sign language-what I can. It is something I do on my own, because there is no reason ASL can’t be a part of any classroom. It can benefit everyone!!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    tjw, Thank YOU for being someone on the inside who is making a difference. Yours is a tricky spot. So many parents don’t know what is available to them if they were to ask… how could they know?

    It was not my intention to paint all teachers as bad. They aren’t. We actually switched schools almost yearly to make sure Leah was with the best-matched teacher. The district looked down on this and told me, “You can’t pick a teacher!! You have to pick a program!” To which I replied, “We have picked a program and it’s the best program for Leah. Sadly you don’t offer it, so we are left picking teachers”

    [Reply]

  16. ~m~ Says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have been a 504 aide in Utah for 3 years. I was hired with no degree (some college education) and given mild/moderate special needs kids to help in Jr. High. I was never trained, just put in a class room to help.

    It has been a very frustrating and rewarding 3 years. I have done lots of research and looked for classes to help me with my job. I held the first 504 meeting at our school last year, because they’d never had one. How does an aide help a child when they haven’t met with parents and teachers of the child? Also I hadn’t been shown an IEP & when I asked for my students IEP, they questioned why I would want to see it. Doesn’t an aide need to know the Education Plan? Seriously?!

    I’ve also made a great repoire with parents, even though the school opposes communicaton outside of school. It’s all kind of silly sometimes. The system truly is broken.

    I’ve also used some ASL with my students (who have aspergers, autism, cerebral palsy, & turners syndrome) because signing is something they knew. But noone told me. Thank goodness for signing time because I didn’t have exposure to ASL before.

    Thank you for sharing and being available to so many of us. You are truly a blessing. Keep sharing.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    ~m~, I don’t doubt it a bit. I have assumed that Lucy’s teachers and aides are very familiar with her IEP before school even starts and it hasn’t aways been the case. In the past few years Lucy has had an AMAZING principal who goes to bat for her. A number of the school employees have shared privately with me when they have felt Lucy wasn’t getting fair services. Having people on the child’s side inside the school makes such a big difference.

    [Reply]

  17. GS Says:

    Thank you for fighting for Leah and sharing your story! I work in the education system and it certainly has flaws. Kudos to you for getting Leah what she needs!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    GS, most massive systems have their flaws. As Leah and Lucy’s mother it was just frustrating how much has to be juggled, medically, socially and scholastically. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. It’s so important for the paradigm to shift, for families to believe that something else, something better is possible for their child as well.
    Thank you for your work in education~

    [Reply]

  18. McMama Says:

    I may be a little hormonal right now, but I’m misty-eyed reading this. You guys are such awesome parents, PEOPLE really, and great role models for hearing parents of deaf children. After taking ASL classes and hearing about these struggles in an abstract way, to hear the story of how people I “know” and love overcame them, is inspiring, heartwarming, and awesome.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    McMama, a little hormonal? You’re so hormonal your hair is pink! We love you too. I am amazed at what you are willing to sacrifice for others. You my dear, are someone who makes a difference- a lifelong difference.

    [Reply]

  19. Cindy Castro Says:

    I am both horrified and ecstatic about your post. I had NO idea that was the education for a deaf child. Unbelievable! Congratulations for paving the way for other families and Leah is very lucky to have you as parents. What a cutie pie!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Cindy Castro, I was hoping that was the case. There are so many things I never considered until my children forced me to. Things like… oh… that recess is no motivation for a child in a wheelchair- she sits in her chair indoors or sits in her chair outdoors… meh. Or how playgrounds are mostly created for children who can run and walk and climb. We have so many blind spots and not because we aren’t sensitive or caring, just because we have blind spots.

    [Reply]

  20. Christy Collins Says:

    Do you ever lose the ‘fight’ in you? I have spent the last couple of years fighting with doctors on trying to just get my daughter properly diagnosed and have been made to feel crazy for years…until she almost died twice. Her doctors finally diagnosed her with CP. I knew it didn’t fit though so I continued my research. One thing I knew for sure was that my daughter could not speak. Against her speach therapists wishes, we found your series of Baby Signing Times when she was 2.5 and you have been a part of our life ever since. We enrolled her in PK when she was 3 and within 5 days she was abused by the teachers aide. When children cannot speak they are vulnerable. What this adult didn’t realize is that my child could communicate through signing. We pulled her out of school and now are moving out of Florida and going to have to deal with new doctors and schools. My daughter is 4 years old now and we just recieved her correct diagnosis a couple of months ago. Severe Congenital Suprabulbar Palsy (Worster-Drought Syndrome) This is quite rare (so doctors say) but children with her look normal/act normal…but drool, have swallowing/feeding problems with or without Aspiration, Apraxia, fine motor delays, developemental delays, possible siezures etc, and all to varying degrees. Sounds like so many children I’ve seen at therapy. We have been fighting for our child since she was born. I’m so, so tired. Thank you for your direction and inspiration. It gets so hard trying to navigate this journey alone.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Christy, I have, on more than one occasion, found myself curled up in the fetal position on the living room floor in tears! Aaron has come home from work to find me in tears, just bawling, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!” Yes, it mostly feels like an uphill battle. Most everyone involved in Special Ed. or Deaf Ed. or regular old education knows there are problems, but obviously knowing it makes no difference. What would make a difference?

    Secondly, you MUST take care of yourself. It is necessary so that you can take care of your child. Hire help! Even a couple of hours a week will save your sanity. Lucy has a helper on Tues. and Thurs. for a whopping 2 hours. Just knowing that I don’t have to do it all, all day long. Knowing someone else will lift her, entertain her or take her to a movie. Knowing that I have 2 hours to write or garden or clean or nap! It’s a lifesaver.

    PS: I always tell parents that if they have a Speech Therapist who tells you not to sign with your child… fire them! First of all they are working from OLD, INCORRECT information. There are PLENTY who have the information to support you in signing.

    [Reply]

  21. Kris Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have a child who was severely speech delayed that I worked on teaching her ASL so we could communicate and remove some of the frustrations. She also has other medical issues in which the school district refused to address (i.e. mold issues in her school causing her breathing difficulties and sadly she was not teh only one) so we fought and threatened legal actions and finally she was moved to a new school. Unfortunately many of the other kids we know still have to deal with the mold problem but we are in a new school with a new set of teachers and a new ST who keeps following up on my daughter even though she graduated out of speech at her old school.

    Our kids advocates are us and thank you again for sharing Leah’s stories and your fights with us. I have donated many of my little ones Signing times DVDs to her former preschool so they could continue teaching the kids ASL regardless of why they were in the preschool class. Watching all of the children sign was truly amazing.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Kris, wow! Another example of knowing there is a major problem (mold) and subjecting children to it. What do we do? You threatened legal action, so they moved your child, but just like me, you think of the peers left behind. I can’t help but think of all of Leah’s peers throughout the years. Are most of them a living statistic? Why? Because their parents believed what they were told? Or because their parents were too tired to fight? Or because everyone who knows the system is broken feels like they can’t make a difference… not them.
    I’m not blaming, I really am asking. Wouldn’t those parents feel betrayed and duped to find out the truth.

    [Reply]

  22. Tracey Says:

    Thank you for your insight into the situation faced by so many families with “atypical” children. The education system can be so intimidating for parents trying to do what is right for their child. To all parents remember: if the available options aren’t working for your child, make new options, don’t let people push your child through a system that will fail them. This applies not only to Deaf children but to children with physical disabilities and learning disabilities as well. No one is a better advocate for your child than you!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Tracey, good point! Every parent should be keenly aware of what their current educational choice is actually offering and delivering to their students.

    [Reply]

  23. Sugar Magnolia Says:

    Amazing post. My daughter is deaf/hard-of-hearing and I will NOT take no for an answer for anything, not the least of which is her education. Deaf people can do anything that hearing people can. Bravo, Rachel!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Sugar Magnolia, your daughter will thank you for that

    [Reply]

  24. Laura Says:

    I have had similar experiences with my child with autism. Unfortunately IDEA does not require a parents signature on an IEP, so not signing is not a solution most of the time. We are currently in the process of filing complaints and deciding how far in the due process we are able and willing to go. It is great that you were able to go to the deaf community and get guidance on how to educate Leah. We are still trying to find the all the hows that need to be implemented (although we have some ideas).
    Unfortunately for deaf students in Michigan, the deaf education program and ASL classes at Michigan State University are being discontinued.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Laura, I know there are parent support organizations in most places. Believe it or not I have found a lot of answers just by becoming a member of on-line communities that relate to our situation. Don’t you hate reinventing the wheel when you are pretty sure it’s unnecessary? Find families who are further along the path than you. We all need mentors!

    [Reply]

  25. Jillian Says:

    Thanks for this post. it is so hard to ask for everything for our children-even if we know what they truly need(language rich environment) the shortage is so great as far as Deaf Educators that sign and skilled Interpreters.
    We have been homeschooling since our boys came home from Ethiopia about 18 months ago…they just started attenting the school system for a few hours a day and while the school is VERY suportive, I also feel they are very LIMITED in resources.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Jillian, congrats on creating a new solution! Best of luck~

    [Reply]

  26. Joeymom Says:

    It isn’t just deaf children that face this school attitude. Almost every special needs child has this battle to fight: the assumption that because they are challenged, they will be less. That “appropriate education” can be defined as “any progress at all”- and only if they are expected to progress at all. What is worse, they hold back information about what services can and should be available, including what extended school year can and should do and be. If you don’t ask, you might no know to ask; and if you don’t ask, they don’t volunteer. It is a nightmare that plays out across the country in every IEP meeting, every eligibility meeting.

    Why on earth would anyone NOT want ASL? I think every special educator- heck, every educator, period- should have ASL skills as a basic requirement for certification. It is an excellent alternative form of practical communication for kids who have speech issues of any kind, processing issues, hearing issues… in fact, even for kids with no issues at all. Visual and kinetic communication provides active learning!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Joeymom, you are correct the problem is bigger than just the education of deaf children, believe me we have lived it with Lucy as well.

    I love what you said about an “appropriate education being defined as any progress at all.”

    There is still a stigma with ASL, many parents perpetuate it with their fear of allowing their child to acquire a first language that is not spoken. Fear that their child will not speak ever. My biggest fear is that my child would completely miss the learning window from 0-3 if we waited for her speech to develop before starting to communicate.

    [Reply]

  27. Jennifer Says:

    Rachel, thank you for your inspiration. I am not a mother but have been a nanny and now work as a special needs aid on the school bus. Working with the school systems can be very tiring and sometimes discouraging. In all my experience with children, I can tell you that they are all so much smarter then anyone gives them credit for, they just need the right atmosphere and people to look up to. I admire you for all that you do and thank you again for sharing your experiences. I have a mantra; “There is no such thing as normal, someone’s “normal” could be another’s “weird” or “abnormal.” All we can be is just us.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Jennifer, I love your mantra. Thank you for sharing your perspective from “the inside.” In case you haven’t been told this lately, “Thank you for what you do for our children.”
    ~R

    [Reply]

  28. Amy Says:

    Hi Rachel! A friend sent me a link to this blogpost. I’m so grateful to have found your blog. The world of hearing parents of deaf/hearing impaired children can feel lonely and confusing in the beginning… for me anyway.

    We have your videos. We brought our daughter home from Uganda in February. She is approx 2 years old. We had no idea that she had hearing loss. We didn’t know any signs and we were completely overwhelmed. Our daughter would “sing” the song to your videos “It’s signing time with Alex and Leah… come and play.” Over and over and over and over. She would sign “signing” and “time” and then her own version of the rest. She was ACHING to communicate. Now she is learning signs as fast as we can learn them.

    We have already experienced some of the irritating “Don’t sign with her” comments from audiologists, speech therapists and developmental specialists. We are going to sign. That’s that.

    My problem is the guilt that I carry from not being able to learn it fast enough. Our daughter has many health issues and we have 3 other children. There just isn’t enough hours in the day for me to learn a new language. I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to forgive myself as I go.

    Thank you for this blog. It means so much to those of us who are just beginning our journey.

    Blessings,
    Amy

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Amy, I was in your shoes. I wrote in my journal, after finding out that Leah was deaf, that I felt the only thing standing in her way was me and the fact that I didn’t know the language. Feeling guilty doesn’t serve you or your children. Look at what you have accomplished! You adopted a child from Uganda! Imagine her fate as a deaf child there. Give yourself some credit.

    It is intimidating and scary to even attempt to find your way through the world of deafness. The more I learned, the more freaked out I became. I felt that I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. There was so much judgement from every angle. Every deaf adult I spoke with resented their parents for the choices they made. AHHH! Your only obligation is to do right by your child. That’s it. (hugs)

    [Reply]

  29. Kris G Says:

    Rachel, Thanks for the post. It is so true! My daughter just finished 11th grade in what I believe is a broken school system for special ed. She has Rubinstien Taybi syndrome. It has been frustrating for us all these years. My daughter has trouble talking so we have tried to learn ALS( She is not deaf, just can’t speak well.. Most of her teachers did not know how to sign which was frustrating because she was misunderstood so often.
    Aside from that I did want to thank you for your signing video’s. We have enjoyed them and learned so many valuable signs.What was amazing to me is how quick she learned them with your videos. These video’s have taught our daughter to sign and to speak with her hands! I even got the school district to buy the 1st series!!!!
    You are an incredible person and an inspiration to us all!!!!! Thank-you Thank-you Thank-you!!!!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Kris G,
    I am glad to hear that Signing Time worked so well for all of you. When Emilie and I made that first video it was only our intention to put a few signs into the hands of people who know and love Leah. It worked and it still works. You are very, very welcome.

    [Reply]

  30. cris Says:

    Hi Rachel, My son is not deaf but he has Down syndrome and is almost 6. Though we have faced different challenges with our school district I feel we have fought similar battles. You are such an awesome advocate for Leah and I hope I can be the same for Max. He signed long before he could speak (thankyou VERY much Signing Times!). Max actually learned his colors from your video. I thought it might be over his head but boy did he prove me wrong. At our last IEP, the teacher told us with disapproval that Max was signing more in class. There is a girl in there with a cochlear implant and he likes to “talk” to her and she signs a lot. The teacher viewed this as regression on Max’s part and it just pissed me off. Communication is communication no matter what language! Thanks for being an inspiration to me and making such wonderful vidoes that touch so many lives.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    What good is as the “I” in IEP? I am shaking my head. Cochlear implants and sign language are NOT mutually exclusive! In fact I believe that any parent who can get unbiased information would be able to understand that signing with an implanted child is imperative. Sign language is not “dangerous” it is not “detrimental” ESPECIALLY for an implanted child. A child with a cochlear implant is still deaf.

    [Reply]

  31. Charles Brown Says:

    We are blessed to have two grandchildren from Ethiopia who are deaf. Imagine the frustration dealing with “experts” when the child’s native language is different.
    They were deemed Special Ed. candidates!
    Within a few months one was in the top of her third grade class and a year later the boy, who had no schooling in ET, fit well in the middle of his class.

    It didn’t come easily!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Charles, you said it perfectly. I do understand because a deaf child’s native language IS different. My own child was born into MY family with a different native language than what was used in our home. Does that make your head spin?

    [Reply]

  32. S Club Mama Says:

    Did you ever consider home schooling? I know it’s not for everyone, I just wondered if it was something you considered while going through all of this.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    S Club Mama, We did consider home schooling but realized we were not at all qualified to be Leah’s language models since
    1. Neither Aaron or myself are native signers
    2. Neither Aaron or myself were fluent in ASL
    3. To be in a language rich environment with access to incidental language, Leah needed two fluent signers in her space.

    We as her hearing parents could not offer instruction or education in her native language, ASL

    [Reply]

    Cindy Castro Reply:

    When I read your post, my first thought was “homeschooling”, too. Alot of parents don’t feel they have the education or resources to homeschool, but homeschooling can be whatever you make it. You are free to find adults or peers that are fluent in ASL. And don’t shortchange your own ability to learn. Obviously you learned enough to create well-loved DVDs!

    Your blog post just reminded me of the many struggles parents have with the current educational system. And many have turned to homeschooling.

    [Reply]

  33. Mellanie Says:

    I am going to frame this quote!

    “Do not be bullied by people who do not LIVE your life with your child. They give recommendations but they will NEVER ask to take responsibility for the outcome. The outcome is yours to live with. Trust your instincts. ”

    So true!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    LOL I love this discussion I feel like I am generating a few gems

    [Reply]

  34. Lisa Holliday Says:

    NEVER get tired of hearing your family’s story Rachel. It can be rough out there for all of us who have children that aren’t “typical.” We have to stick together and be there to give each other strength when we’re confronted with the naysayers. Thanks for sharing!
    Lisa
    (from NJ, was there in Charlemont and saw you in NYC at Carnegie with my daughter Rebekah who has autism)

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Hi Lisa, of course I remember you! I realize this is just a slice of the problems with public education and deaf education, we have had different issues with Lucy. Why does it have to be SO exhausting? If anyone should be given a break it’s parents who already are dealing with extenuating circumstances.

    [Reply]

  35. Julie Southern Says:

    Your frustration sounds so familiar to me. When Calyssa entered Early Intervention as a 2-year-old, an audiologist (who, as it turned out, hadn’t worked with pedes since his training decades earlier) said that she couldn’t be deaf because she responded to some sounds. (Well, I’m not exactly blind, but without my glasses I see poorly!) So the only way the school district could qualify her for services was under the “mentally retarded” classification. I didn;t want to accept that diagnosis, becuase I knew it was wrong, but I had no choice. Fortunately, once she turned 3, she aged out of the Early Start into a class for mentally-challenged. kids, and barely a week later, the speech therapist called me at home and asked, “Have you had her hearing tested? I think your daughter is deaf.” “So do I,” I answered. A pair of wonderful pediatric audiologists emerged from a different testing booth a few days later and confirmed that she was profoundly deaf. Not retarded, not challenged, deaf. Fast-forward little more than three years, and I have a happy child, about to enter D/HoH second grade in a different district in the Bay Area, who speaks remarkably clearly, SEE-signs fluently, reads well above grade-level…and will attend camp at the Cal School for the Deaf this summer. She, too, identifies herself as both hearing and deaf.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Julie, WOW…. wow.Amazing that you had to go with a diagnosis you knew was wrong to even get services. Parents ARE the professional when it comes to their children. Congrats on your work and efforts with your daughter. What I love is Leah has no idea of the many stigmas in the world of deafness. She doesn’t feel one is more superior than another. She doesn’t HAVE to choose. She can have both deaf and hearing as aspects of herself. Too cool!

    [Reply]

  36. Mollie Says:

    These are part of the reasons I became an educator. It is appalling what parents with students with any type of disability are told! I refuse to believe that any child no matter what their situation in life is not smart enough to do _____ (you fill in the blank). I grew up in the special education system. I beat all the odds. I have been an exception to the rules since I was little.

    Good for you in fighting! It can be so hard to fight! I think that the school system hopes that parents just get tired and “accept their offerings” which are never quite enough regardless of the situation.

    In response to all the parent’s who are having trouble with their early education programs accepting ASL (signs) as language that is just wrong! I love that our pedi accepts our “normal” hearing children signs as language! They are communicating in a real language! Why would it not count?!? the best part is that they are able to tell me what they are thinking about. AMAZING stuff!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Mollie, Congrats on beating the odds!
    I am with you. I wonder when they are asking for a word count are they really supposed to be asking for spoken words or are they counting the words communicated ? Is it a question of developing speech or cognitive ability? I wonder.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Hey Mollie, Comment #50 is a reply to you. Scroll on down.

    [Reply]

  37. Laura Says:

    “The worst part is… parents believe it! They look at their little deaf child and believe that their potential is limited because some stranger from a state organization says so.”

    This is so true about many conditions. My daughter who turned 3 a couple of weeks ago, has Down syndrome. We started signing with her ourselves & then started using Signing Time. She now has several hundred signs at least. Her spoken vocabulary is even larger & she is starting to speak in sentances. Even more amazing is the fact that she new the alphabet before the age of 2 & was reading over 200 words at last count. This is definately not what we were told to expect by the “experts” & if we had believed them she would not be doing as well as she is. I do take into consideration what the “experts” say, but we choose what we believe is the best path for our daughter. Sometimes that means getting a 2nd opinion & sometimes it means driving over 3 hours & 12 towns away to find the best SLP, but we will do whatever it takes to help our daughter reach her full potential.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog post! More parents need to know it is OK to fight for their child.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Laura, I am smiling reading how your daughter is SHINING! That is just fabulous!

    [Reply]

  38. Ashley Says:

    Hi, Rachel!

    I was just wondering, does Leah ever attend her own IEP meetings? In KY, it starts when you’re 14, and I have only been able to attend one meeting because I didn’t really know you could attend your own meetings until my teachers told me. I just turned 16 at the end of May, and I love being able to make some decisions about my education. It has helped me to become a better self-advocate.

    Now, if I could just get going physically…

    Leah is so beautiful. I would love to read some of her writing.

    Take care!

    ~Ashley

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Hey Ash, We have always brought our children to their IEP meetings. Leah and Lucy have strong options about their educations and what they want and do not want as far as services go. Lucy has said in her meeting that she doesn’t like to always have a one-on-one aide over her shoulder all day. She wants some more independence. We wouldn’t have known that if she didn’t tell us.
    I know there are always workshops pushing “Parents as Partners in the IEP Process” but I believe your child’s input is invaluable too

    [Reply]

    Ashley Reply:

    I just noticed that there was a reply button at the bottom of your post, so I can reply to your comment. Haha.

    But anyway, I was going to ask you something else. When you say “free and appropriate education” is that K-12 exclusively? Or college too? I am already starting to look at scholarships, but am wondering if I should since some people have told me college is completely paid for due to CP. You may or may not know the answer to this, but I figured I’d ask anyway.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Ashley, You should apply for scholarships. Of course you should. I don’t know if it IS the case that college is paid for because you have CP. I haven’t heard that, but neither of my girls are college age. I have heard of all kinds of support services in college for people with disabilities.

  39. JenML Says:

    Wow, Rachel… it is so hard to fight the system, and as teachers sitting at a PPT (IEP meeting), you want to change the mold but at times (most of the time) the district will only “allow” you to follow their mold (budget cuts, no extra teachers, no extra aides, share these aides)… sadly, even if it’s failing like you showed.

    You and Aaron have made so many right decisions, not only just for Leah but for Lucy, too… and communication was at the root of all of it. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I have heard from Deaf folks who were mislabled as MR when they were in school.

    Hooray for you guys.
    Thanks, as always, for sharing.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    JenML, Even comment #35 had that experience of her child being diagnosed as mentally retarded instead of deaf.
    When we first took Leah (age 1) to the ENT he hit a tuning fork (right in front of her face) and then brought it over to her ear. She followed it with her eyes because she was probably wondering what on earth it was and what he was doing with it! His response… “Well she sure heard that!”

    [Reply]

  40. Steph Says:

    You never cease to amaze me with your life stories! I’m sitting here fighting back tears as two nights ago I read an article that said if a child isn’t talking by age 5 then his/her chance of ever talking in not very good. Joey (who has Down syn) will be 5 next month. His only sounds are vowels or when he hollers and grunts…every now and then we will hear a consonant sound. His hearing is perfect. Sadder part is I know I get blamed (by some family) for teaching him sign. I KNOW that is NOT true! What are your thoughts on teaching PECS along with sign? Most on his IEP team are suggesting that for this coming school year (preschool). I have mixed feelings.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Steph, Imagine his frustration level if you hadn’t been signing with him. Once again “SPEAKING” is not the primary focus “COMMUNICATION” is. You know what? Maybe Joey WILL never talk. He either will or he won’t and beating yourself up over it will not change that outcome. Lucy will never walk. I am fine with that. I could beat myself up, taking her to hours of therapy and trying to force her to do something she CAN NOT do. I could feel guilty. I Think that would be a waste of my time and Lucy’s.

    Steph here is the thing. If he doesn’t ever talk it’s ok. It’s ok. Once again do not be bullied by people who don’t live it, be that family or professionals. YOU are the expert on Joey. :) You are.

    I have no hands-on experience with PECS. I am sure there are people here who do. All I have is a completely biased opinion with no actual experience. So I’m going to keep it to myself… don’t you wish all of those family members would do the same? LOL (I am going to have to quote myself on that one!) “Thank you so much for your completely biased opinion that seems to be based on no actual real life experience!” <—– ROFL

    [Reply]

    Diane Reply:

    Hi Steph,

    I’m not sure why, but I was scrolling and your post caught my eye. I’m also a mom of a 5 year old daughter with DS. I had a couple of thoughts which may or may not help. Have seen absolute miracles happen when tonsils have been removed. A friend’s 10 year old with DS who didn’t talk until his tonsils came out. Six months later, he was reading a book to an audience at a Reading Recital. Our daughter made huge improvements as well after having her tonsils removed.

    I also attended a talk by Libby Kumin, a speech therapist, who said kids with DS can have apraxia, which is almost like dyslexia for speech. Evidently there is controversy on whether kids with DS can truly have it. However, when treated for it, she’s seen kids make great gains in speech.

    Definitely don’t feel guilty–you have given your son an amazing gift–the ability to communicate. Best of luck to you.

    [Reply]

  41. Pieper Says:

    I love this post! How empowering to all mothers and fathers. I live in Austin TX. I know nothing about the deaf school system, but I know there is a school here for the deaf- Texas School for the Deaf. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Anyway, loved this and thank you for sharing! :)

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Pieper, thanks for reading and chiming in and loving this post.

    [Reply]

  42. Jaclyn Says:

    I have admired you fromthe time I first heard your (basic) story. As I’ve been reading and learning more and more I am more and more inspired by you.

    I do not have the slightest inkling of an idea what it is to walk in your shoes, but I can tell you this for certain: I admire the way you walk in them! You have taught me a lot about the kind of PERSON I want to be. One who doesn’t see boundaries but opportunities; one that ACTS rather than sitting back and letting life run amok; one that stands proud, even when stumbling, knowing that life is not about our circumstances, but what we DO with what we’ve been handed.

    You are right, it’s appalling what we as a society “accept” for so many within our populations. It is so very important that we strive for BETTER and things like you writing your story to share are PART of the solution; the more people hear about how it CAN be different, the more it WILL be different. It’s always easier to ask for something someone else has already been given, the more people who ask and are successful at pushing those boundaries, then SHARE their stories, the more road will be paved for others to do the same. THANK YOU, for while you were working for your daughter, you have triumphed in many ways for MANY MORE tan your daughter (who we all know is an amazing young lady! – taking right after her mommy!)

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Jaclyn, I think that might be one of my all time favorite acknowledgements!

    “I do not have the slightest inkling of an idea what it is to walk in your shoes, but I can tell you this for certain: I admire the way you walk in them!”

    Thank you for your friendship
    ~R

    [Reply]

  43. Asperger Ninja Says:

    Because you are awesome, and don’t take no for an answer and you believe in this philosophy: “Listen to your heart above all other voices.”

    Your heart will always tell you what to do, and look what you have done for yourself and for your child. :)

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Asperger ninja. I love it. Thank you!

    [Reply]

  44. Carolyn Says:

    I am sorry to have to point this out, but I feel it needs to be done. I totally believe it wasn’t meant to be offensive, but when you said ” but we knew that she was deaf, not stupid.” I found it highly offensive.
    As a mother with a daughter with Down Syndrome, I have become a part of the movement to ban the use of the word retarded. But, to me, stupid is far worse.
    My daughter may end up at 18 with the reading level of a third grader? Does that make her ‘stupid’? Because that is the implication, and it hurts, even though I know that wasn’t your intention.
    I only mention it as a matter of course, as I am sure it is something you will take onboard. As a parent of a disabled child, I know it is hard to keep track of what offends who.
    Thank you for your consideration of this. And to those reading the comments, please remember that this word can hurt those of us who are fighting for our children to not be called ‘retards’ OR ‘stupid’.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Carolyn, No apologies from you! The whole premise of Signing Time is delivered within the first few lines of the Theme Song- “Where friends can meet and find we’re not so different after all” I wrote those lyrics and your comment brings that experience right here. Thank you for trusting that my intention wasn’t to offend. Thank you for being brave and sharing what is true for you. You may or may not know that my youngest daughter Lucy has spina bifida, cerebral palsy and at age 2 was incorrectly labeled as mentally retarded by her neurologist. This issue is closer to home for my family than some might realize. Again thank you for your perspective and your mission.

    [Reply]

  45. Diane Says:

    Rachel,

    I certainly hope the thought of only blogging for another year is hypothetical. It’s discussion topics like this that so need to be addressed, but it’s hard to find a forum of people who get it. Truly, the only limitations that face our daughter are those placed on her by others who only see Down Syndrome. We just had a speech evaluation and Erin only has about a 6-9 month delay. Not bad considering our EI therapists told us she wouldn’t start speaking until she turned 5–probably even longer since we were using ASL with her. You know the grief we took about that…Even our dentist lectured me on how I was delaying her speech, right after she signed grape when he asked me what kind of toothpaste she wanted. Thank heavens your website and the extra materials on the videos gave me the confidence to continue pursuing ASL despite the many experts.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Diane,
    TOTALLY hypothetical :) Thank you for expressing your interest though. Sometimes blogging feels like launching epistles into a black hole.

    “SINCE you were using ASL”??? SINCE? GAH! If only I could reach through the internet and shake those people (I would you know.. I really would!) I we back to signing in secret? I sure hope not. If nothing else you can read in the other comments that you are not alone! AND you are not the only one whose child enjoys the benefits of your commitment to signing, even in the face of disagreement.

    When we found out Leah was deaf, she was 14 months old. A family friend said, “I understand why you are signing but you really should be careful. Don’t teach her too much or she may use it forever.”
    My response, “Leah is profoundly deaf. It is pretty likely she WILL use it forever and that’s not a problem.”

    [Reply]

    Diane Reply:

    Thanks for the laugh and support, Rachel. I still would love to do a study on how sign language improves the lives and outcomes of children with Down Syndrome. All the research (all two studies)shows introducing ASL has no effect on speech delays, but that is certainly not our experience.

    It has been fascinating to watch Erin use her signs when she’s speaking in longer sentences. As she verbalized more, she stopped signing for a bit. However, now she seems to use the signs to help her organize her thoughts when speaking in sentences. She started with “What’s Your Name?” “My name is Erin,” and “Nice to meet you.” Sound familiar? (We love Sign of the week, but were wondering if you could expand to phrase of the week.)

    We were also told she would have a really hard time with phonics, but, again, that has not been the case. She learned the alphabet with Signing Time ABCs and the Practice Time ABCs. At 5 she’s graduated from the pre-reading summer program at the library to the early readers, and she is decoding words by sound.

    Ironically, the visual phonics program that “the experts” say is what she will need in the future to learn how to read, uses a non-ASL set of signs to represent sounds. So, why is it then such a leap to think that introducing ASL at an age-appropriate stage of development will not enhance reading and decoding?!!? I just don’t get the reasoning or lack there of.

    [Reply]

  46. Kristina Says:

    Hi Rachel!
    First of all, thank you for sharing this part of Leah’s journey. I truly appreciate it.

    It is so refreshing to see parents who WANT to educate them about their children and how their children will be taught. As a sign language interpreter, it is so disappointing and frustrating to be told by a TOD or a set of parents that we MUST use Signed English with a child. I understand if that is the child’s wish, but at the age of four or five the child doesn’t know the best language preference any more than they know not to eat candy for three meals a day. I’m sure that entire paragraph is completely politically incorrect, but that is how I feel.

    I worked at a school for the Deaf in Puerto Rico (www.esd.faithweb.com if you ever visit PR, I’m sure they would love to have you visit) and my time there only encouraged me that children are capable….of MORE than we could imagine. If only we give them the tools instead of imposing limits.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Kristina, a fabulous point! As i said in the blog this is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s only the tip of the iceberg. If parents don’t know what is the best choice for their deaf child, they will NEVER ask for it and things will NEVER change. When we were in Los Angeles we were the only parents asking our district for ASL. To be honest most of Leah’s deaf peers came from very low income homes where English wasn’t their parents’ first language, Spanish was. I tried to put together weekly signing lessons for the parents but most had no transportation and some had no interest at all. They seemed to be content that their child had 2 free meals and a bus ride to and from school five days a week. The last thing they were focused on was incidental language acquisition or the difference between ASL or SEE sign.

    [Reply]

  47. Jessi Says:

    I totally agree with you. I am a special Education Major. I am actually making myself learn ASL so I will be able to have the “a language rich environment.” That is totally un acceptable. I might just be new school and still learning. But I actually want to a child feel like they are the best and no matter their disability let them out do that smartest kid in their grade level.
    Jessi

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Jessi, hoorah! One of the frustrating things for us was that we wanted a teacher who was fluent in ASL. When we asked if the teachers could be tested for fluency so we could make the best choice the Teachers Union said it was a violation of the teacher’s rights to be tested for ASL fluency… huh? What about my child’s right to receive her education in the least restrictive environment? Least restrictive environment being in her native language, ASL. Whose rights are more important? We couldn’t even get the information we needed to make the best choice for Leah.

    [Reply]

    Jessi Reply:

    I would love to become fluent in it, when I watched your shows on PBS I was very good, and when I was 8 I bought a book and learned that in a week. I tell my parents I want “Signing Time” whole DVD collection. But I agree with you, becasue I am a student who just got tested for a Learning Disability and I am having to fight with my professors to get my LRE. Good Luck

    [Reply]

  48. JoDy Says:

    I had NO idea it was like this in the school systems! I was friends with 2 deaf students in high school, and they were just like everyone else, funny, smart, conversational, kind and understanding. It’s partially due to my friendship with them that my 19 month old so is so proficient in signing – much of what they taught me 10 years ago is coming back to me, and I can pass it on to him, with GREAT help from Signing Time of course! Thank you for opening my eyes to this terrible failure of our school systems.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    JoDy, I have family members who were shocked by this blog. Like I said, I have to believe that if people really knew this then no one would stand for it. To be honest I don’t even think Leah knows what we went through and if she does remember she has nothing to compare it to. For her it is just what happened. For Leah it was totally normal for mom to go into a education meeting for 2 hours and cry the whole time.

    [Reply]

  49. Gina Says:

    I am mother of two BEAUTIFUL little girls. One is 4 and just started to be mainstreamed and the other is 1. We ourselves have been through these same experiences. It is so frustrating to hear the school districts say…well she wont need ASL. When we had earlier intervention they were like we dont know what to do with her she is testing above what we are use to dealing with. Well teach her something anything we would say! Wouldnt you rather her have a better chance and be ahead. She now attends an all day program and she loves it. We had to fight for interpreter we had to fight for fm system. It makes me feel very sad to know parents are just accepting…”O your child will never read passed fourth grade reading level.” I would say says who! It is my responsibility to make sure that never happens. I dont care how hard it is Im not going to allow that for my child. Ive talk to other parents who have been tolds using ASL will hurt their communication. I believe these doctors are wrong. I just try to tell them that in our home it has just improved it! Another fight is my daughter is not deaf enough….I hate it when someone will say well she can speak. Well just because she can speak doesnt mean she can hear. It drives me crazy!! Thank you to the Coleman family, who have been such a big part of our communication with our children!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Gina, When families are told that ASL will hurt their child’s communication I think it is time to start asking “Is that just your opinion or have you actually lived with and signed with a deaf child of your own? Do you have any current research on that or did someone tell you that a long time ago when you were in college and you’ve just been repeating it ever since?”

    [Reply]

  50. JoDy Says:

    Sorry for the second post, this is for Mollie:

    At my son’s 18 month checkup, one of the standard questions is whether the child is putting 2 words together. At the time, he was not speaking in phrases. My pedi was concerned, until I explained that he was signing simple sentences, such as “please more food”! End of concern, we moved on to other topics. :) A week later, the verbal language started to explode out of him, and it’s not giving up steam!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    JoDy the cool thing is you can hit the [Reply] button under someone else’s comment and it will show up connected to theirs!! YAY. Try it next time, but for now i will post up on Mollie’s to check Comment #50

    [Reply]

  51. Hannah Says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I have a cousin who is deaf and he has just graduated high school and is on his way to college. I know that so many people doubted that he could accomplish all that he has. I wish there were more people out there that understood that just because you are deaf it doesn’t make you stupid. Thank you for sharing your story! I have two hearing sons and I have been teaching them ASL from your videos. I feel that it is important for them to be able to communicate with their cousin! What amazes me is that people don’t seem to understand this either. People have told me that teaching my boys ASL was going to hinder their speech development and that they were not going to want to speak because they would want to sign instead, or I have been told that I was teaching them too many signs at once and was going to confuse them, and that ASL was too hard for children to learn! Funny how they don’t seem to have any of those problems, in fact their vocabulary and understanding of the English language is higher then most children their age. And neither one of them has any problem talking! I am always amazed at the ignorance of people. I ask them do you only use 3 English words with your child, because you are afraid you are going to confuse them? Do you speak to them in broken English because English is too hard for them to understand? Then I ask them how do you think deaf children learn sign language? Do you really think that their parents teach them a made up language because ASL is too hard? I am proud to have a deaf cousin, I am happy that I am able to communicate with him, and that my children can too! Thank you for opening peoples eyes to the problem with our schools and how they perceive the deaf and for helping people to realize that ASL IS A Language!
    Thank you for shedding light on the deaf community and for showing the world how important it is for ALL children to be given a proper education no matter what!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Hannah, Well said. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Well I did write one up that rhymes ;)

    “Babies CRAWL BEFORE they WALK and they SIGN BEFORE they TALK. It’s natural.”
    ~Rachel Coleman

    [Reply]

  52. Cassie Says:

    We have been “lucky” as our school has no experience with deaf kids or implants so they are doing all of their own research to help our 3 year old be successful. We are heading into the iep business as well so this post came at the perfect time. My son has bilateral implants but I expect many great things from him and hope we never come across someone that believes his deafness makes him less that another.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Cassie, sometimes when a school has no previous experience they also have no previous misconceptions. That is fabulous! Best of luck to you and yours!

    [Reply]

  53. April Says:

    I’m angry hearing the negative things about people with different circumstances. What happened to loving a challenge? The world is simply…lazy.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    April,
    Or maybe they are just uninformed, unaware or unwilling to do what it takes to take a stand and make a difference. Possibly unsure of where to start and very sure that someone else will eventually handle it;) which is sort of like lazy

    [Reply]

  54. Kitara Says:

    Rachel, I just wanted to say that you guys are awesome. I just read your blog and it hurts me that our educational system is so flawed and parents have to work so hard just to get their children a good education. I do not share the same trials and tribulations that you have, but i deeply appreciate your experience as if it doesn’t help me personally, it may help me help someone else. My mother recently asked me for a Signing Times DVD like I have for my 3 year old as she wants to learn to be able to help a customer that comes into her employment. I just want to say thank you again Rachel for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Kitara, the good news is that we did it and we did it well. I hope that others can glean something from that. Even in the face of complete disagreement we can be amazing and create a new outcome!

    Go mom!!!! I love that she is learning from Signing Time!

    [Reply]

  55. Tonya Says:

    My son is deaf, has severe vision loss, cerebral palsy, and we experienced the DHH program at his school label him “autistic” because they didn’t want to manage some of his challenges. We are trying so hard to nurture his ASL communication, but our community doesn’t have ASL resources for deaf children. They have sign classes for hearing children, and it is just the basics. He is far beyond that and he does so much better communicating in ASL. I thank you for your post, Rachel, because now I know to seek out members of the deaf community. I am hoping I can find someone who would like to donate time to nurture a young deaf boy who is just so charming and such a miracle. Thank you for inspiring all parents-my son was so excited to see you in LA-he loves Signing Time and talks about Rachel, Alex and Leah as though you all are his friends. Thank you for your voice. It speaks to us all as parents of extraordinary children!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Tonya, part of the issue is that only 1 in 1000 children are born profoundly deaf. It’s SO random! Your deaf child ends up in a class with the other randomly deaf kids. Leah explained her feelings about that experience when she was younger by saying, “I don’t feel like I really get to choose my friends.”

    When other disabilities are tossed in the mix your child’s needs become even more specific. We were in LA when we found a deaf mentor. John was a teacher at the school for the deaf (which takes care of the background check) Talk to teachers of the deaf and ask for resources.

    [Reply]

  56. Don G. Says:

    Wow! What a powerful, damning indictment of the educational system! You two obviously have your heads on straight. I wish more parents of Deaf children were like you, and you were in the majority, not minority of Hearing parents of Deaf children!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Don G., was it a little harsh? ;) YES it is harsh. It is hash to have to fight for your child in a system that is supposed to be set up to help them excel. I hope that through sharing our story and experience more parents see what is REALLY possible for their deaf children. I was asked to speak in Chicago at the recent EHDI conference, I laid it out. I told the truth. I think I offended every person in the room at some point in my hour presentation and still received a standing ovation. The truth will set us free.

    [Reply]

  57. Carrie Says:

    Rachel,
    I am a hearing, middle school, Language Arts teacher at a state school for the deaf. I read your story. I hear and understand your frustration with the current state of deaf education! Like you, I do NOT accept the fact that most deaf high school graduates have a 3rd grade reading level. However, it is often the case. I believe, though, that it is something that is partly out of our hands as K-12 educators. Too many deaf and hard-of-hearing children out there do not come from families like yours. They come from families where they do not get any accessible language input until they enter school. The children can’t hear enough spoken English to pick it up and the adults don’t learn ASL. Please understand, I know that there are many hearing parents of deaf children out there who love their children, accept them, and work very hard to make sure they have access to language. Parents like you. However, of the 20+ students I served last year, I can count the number of parents like that on one hand. When students enter school in kindergarten with no first language to speak of, they are behind. When they enter kindergarten and have to immediately begin learning TWO languages, ASL and English, they have a hard road to hoe to make up 6 years of language learning PLUS learn all they need to learn that first year of school. Because of the lack of early language input, many of the students never really develop a strong first language and therefore always flounder academically. I think there is much more we need to learn and do as educators of the deaf… much, much more! It is going to take more parents like you, though, getting involved at birth, learning ASL, finding Deaf Mentors, making language accessible during those crucial early years for us to really begin to turn around the education of deaf children. I’m going to venture a guess… if you asked those deaf adults who have their PhD’s if their parents were actively involved in their lives and education, the vast majority would give a resounding, “YES!” I know that is the case for the successful Deaf adults that I work with. As I said, this is not the case for many deaf children, though. You are to be commended for all you have done for Leah so far. Keep fighting (even though it shouldn’t have to be a fight)! Keep spreading the word about early language learning through ASL and Deaf Mentors! I wish every hearing parent of a deaf child was as invested in their child’s future as you.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Carrie, You are absolutely right. 0-3 is critical. Leah knew her manual alphabet before she was 2. She was fingerspelling words and asking their meaning as a 2 year-old. She could out-communicate her hearing peers from 16 months on. 0-3 is up to the parents. But here’s yet another part of the problem… In my experience parents of deaf children are bombarded with pretty scary information during that time. We are trying to sort through it. It’s crash course of the worst kind. It is set up so you feel damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you choose ASL your child is isolated from the oralists. You are looked down upon by many people… you’re asked how could you “give up” on your child?
    If you choose an oral route, you better not muddy your choice by using sign as well. Once you make your choice you are invested. You can’t just jump tracks, there’s no support for that.
    What about a holistic view of a deaf child. Give them EVERY tool without fear mongering.

    [Reply]

  58. Amy D Says:

    Our son is nearly a year out of the PIP program (almost 4) in Utah and has been completely dropped from any USDB or School District services because he is above the 7th percentile. What a ridiculously low standard. He did not qualify for any IEP or 504 program because his language skills were age-appropriate.
    We feel completely on our own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s doing well, but I wish there was still more of a support for parents regardless of their child’s “tested” levels of progress. We had a fabulous experience with our PIP provider although I’ve heard things are changing for the worse in that program and the Deaf Mentor program.

    I also think I am part of the problem because as a parent, I am so wrapped up in where we currently are, that I forget to do anything to help change where we’ve been to help those coming after us. Any suggestions on how to be more involved? I have 5 young children and it’s hard to find time.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Amy D, If I recall correctly, Leah tested out of special ed services based on her language skills. Since she is deaf she qualifies for services based on her disability. My recommendation is do the work. Look at the programs and like I said look ahead, look at the older classrooms as well. And in my experience EVERYTHING will change for the worse if no one asks any questions or makes any requests. Be sure to look at JMS as well. You’ll get a lot of recommendations, but tell them you would like to see EVERY option.

    [Reply]

  59. Nikki Says:

    I could not agree any less with Don G! Your story as a Hearing parent of a Deaf child must be spread out near and far. I am an ASL signing Deaf mother to three Deaf girls and one Hearing (Koda) boy. Every Hearing parent with a Deaf child must not depend on medical professionals and IFSP/IEP team members who aren’t Deaf for advice as to how to raise their child, but to reach over to Deaf adults (near native to native signers of ASL) for advice and support.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Nikki, For some reason my first instinct was to talk to someone who had actually LIVED what my daughter would live. I knew nothing about deafness or deaf education. Most professionals that we came into contact with- Speech therapists, ENT, audiologist, pediatrician, even Parent Infant Program Advisors knew nothing firsthand about deafness and deaf education. These people didn’t have the life experience to make an actual, reliable recommendation in my eyes – they haven’t lived it themselves and not one of them had a child who had lived it. They weren’t making these choices and living with their consequences.
    So I looked for deaf people and asked them what they would do. I asked the REAL professionals what course we should follow in educating our deaf child.

    [Reply]

  60. Rebecca Says:

    Wow. I am sad to say, my uncle is deaf and so is his wife. They are in their early 40′s and I believe the school system failed them. My aunt is not able to read lips and is often times secluded when we have family gatherings because she is unable to communicate with other family members who do not know ASL.

    My uncle has learned to read lips and can talk to some extent but neither my aunt or uncle can read or write very well. My uncle is working at the Oregon school for the deaf in Salem and unfortunately, I heard the school may be closed soon due to lack of funding. I am trying to learn ASL on my own to be able to communicate with them better.

    I am so proud of you and Aaron for taking some initiative and being great parents to Leah. I am also an elementary school teacher and I am always so proud when parents are working with their children outside of the classroom to help them to learn and grow.

    Thanks for sharing your frustrations with us and also your success in raising Leah to be bilingual, smart, and educated!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Rebecca, I know a family who always had an interpreter at family events so mom and dad weren’t stuck by their deaf child’s side as interpreter. They also felt like it would allow their daughter to have the teenage conversations with her cousins without feeling embarrassed to have them “filtered” through her parents. You may be able to find someone who would volunteer to do this for the experience or just because they love doing it.

    [Reply]

  61. Incredible « Giving Her All She's Got Says:

    [...] Jump to Comments This story is incredible. Here is the background for it. When we did hear her diagnosis “severe to profound [...]

  62. abby schrader Says:

    This was such an inspiring post. We’ve been through the same struggles to get services for Hallie, who was first diagnosed as globally developmentally delayed and then, more correctly, as high functioning on the autism spectrum. The ‘system’ is happy to write her off as cute-but-dumb-and-kind-of-out-of-it and quite satisfied to have her in the back of some (no doubt overcrowded) classroom as long as she’s not disruptive. But to get her what she really, actually needs–which is an individualized educational plan tailored to her particular abilities (and that doesn’t just shunt her to the side, focusing only on what she cannot do and her dis-abilities) has been a fight. And of course, in our case it’s just begun. I’m glad we have the law on our side; I just wish that people (here the school districts and their gate keepers) didn’t see the law as something to get around as opposed to something to uphold. So we parents have to look the system in the eye and refuse to take ‘no’ (or ‘we don’t do that here’) for an answer, educate ourselves about what resources there are out there (and thank heavens for Signing Time–I can’t tell you how important it’s been in our lives and in the lives of many families we know in the micropreemie and autism communities), and gear up for a fight.

    I just want to thank you again for giving Hallie (and us) the gift of ASL. At Hallie’s first IEP meeting when she turned 3, everyone’s jaw dropped open when they read that this kid who was testing as 32% delayed pretty much across the board (so at a 2 year old level) knew hundreds of signs and their meanings and could sign the alphabet in ASL and identify it in writing.

    Hallie used ASL before she ever spoke and she continues to sign (both at home and at school, where several of her teachers sign when they sing and talk. Hallie often does the same). Because Hallie’s vocal quality is so poor (her articulation is great, but she has a paralyzed vocal cord and a soft, raspy voice) we’ve been encouraged to have her continue to study ASL as a way of being heard.

    The struggle you mounted to get Leah what she needed really did blossom into something so significant–both for her and the broader community of our kids-who-are-too-easily-left-behind. I think it’s wonderful how you guys channeled anger–because having your kid written off is a surefire way of producing anger–into something so productive and so amazing for all of us out here!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Abby, you and Hallie are very welcome. Let’s keep dropping jaws. What makes me crazy is that so many parents who have children with delays and disabilities KNOW.. no I mean KNOW the difference that early communication through signing makes. We KNOW it and yet so many people are afraid of it. Is there any doubt in your mind, from your experience, that EVERY child could benefit from early communication through sign language?

    As far as ideas for in-classroom support the best thing to do is stay connected to other families all around the country who are dealing with similar issues. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and others will come up with ideas that you have never considered.

    [Reply]

  63. Robert Says:

    you mentioned a few times about the system being “broken” … I find it interesting that people only start to realize that the government education system is broken when things affect them. education should not be a “right” nor is it a right for anyone… anyone. when you look to government for anything you’re always going to get the worst of the worst.

    you see what happened when you and your husband took things into your own hands?

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Robert, I agree. But currently we are working with the system in place. Public education is a big, huge, waste of money and time. The current system claims to be able to provide a free and appropriate education even for children with disabilities, but what it really seems to do is waste tons of money, protect the rights and employment of those being paid by the system at the cost of the children it was supposed to be set up for. This is why I have nightmares about public health care. I really do. When you get things for free you give up your say about the quality.

    [Reply]

  64. trickychix Says:

    Rachel,

    Reading about how the educational system reacted to Leah, I did feel angry. I felt sick.

    I work in Thailand with children from Burma. I just started working at a center for children with disabilities. There’s a range of children who come to the day center, but almost all of them have spent their whole lives relegated to a corner of the room. There is a girl who is about 7 years old who is deaf. No one has ever tried to communicate with her. When her parents were asked: “What kind of activities do you do with your child?” They answered: “She’s deaf. She sits in the corner.” It makes me feel sick and angry.

    The thing is, I think, holding on to that anger and turning it into the fuel for change. Holding onto joy whenever it can be found, letting the losses go, and concentrating on the victories where they can be found.

    I don’t know what I can teach little Lay Lay Soe, the deaf girl at the center. She rarely looks at anyone’s face. I think she’s given up on communicating since everyone has given up on her for so long. And I wouldn’t know what language to start teaching: ASL, BSL, Burmese sign language. Who will sign with her? But I am thinking of what you have written about natural language.

    For now, though, I’m just celebrating every time she looks at my face and keeping myself fueled on anger and joy and the inspirational stories of everyone around me like Rachel and the people who have shared their lives in the comments here, everyone who is making this world a little bit better for someone every day.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    trickychix, Any sign will do. If you don’t sign with her, no one will so does it matter what you use? Breaks my heart too. When we went to Ghana we heard similar things and worse. Children with mental disabilities are considered possessed by the devil and a danger to their village because it is believed the child will transform into a serpent in the middle of the night and kill other villagers. I kept asking, “Really? No REALLY? People really believe that?” Yes it was 2008 and people STILL believe that.

    [Reply]

  65. Merideth Says:

    Hi Rachel-
    My son is a typically developing child, but knows many signs. I love to sign with him just for the joy of communicating. What a blessing to have that connection at such a young age, and that’s on top of all the academic benefits.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Merideth, it’s true that early connection is a beautiful thing and the educational benefits to your son are beautiful as well.

    [Reply]

  66. Maura Byrnes Says:

    I have tears in my eyes and can’t swallow because the lump in my throat. The tears are of joy for your family’s efforts…and tears of anger, anger at the brokenness of our school system, community and world. I am the mom of three kids: two were born in an African village with no formal education for the first 10 years of life.

    After one year in the US, they’ve accomplished a HUGE amount and the teachers are amazed. My husband and I are not amazed. We expected it, and that’s the difference.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Maura Byrnes, Wow! Congrats to you. What a fabulous story.

    [Reply]

  67. Wendy Says:

    My daughter fell in love with the Signing Time videos early on & having a friend as an interpreter, I took it upon myself to begin teaching her ASL at 5 months old. People always ask why?…& I respond with why not? Why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t we do everything and anything we can to open up the communication lines? Why does there have to be something wrong & so what if there is? My daughter isn’t deaf but using ASL has been beneficial in so many ways. I strongly feel ASL should be considered a second language. It’s heartbreaking to hear how poorly the school system works. Thank you for sharing your story Rachel. I’m always inspired when I read your blog. Hope you can come to Michigan soon!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Wendy, In most places in the IS ASL is now considered a second language. Many high schools and colleges offer ASL as a second language! YAY! Congrats on your success with early communication.

    [Reply]

  68. Petra Horn-Marsh Says:

    Hi Rachel & Aaron, I am not sure if you remember me, but my previous married name is Petra Rose and I worked as the Deaf Mentor Specialist after Paula Pittman in Utah. Ring a bell? Well, I am just enthralled reading your blog and hearing about your powerful presentation at the recent EHDI conference. What you are doing is exactly what all hearing parents of D/HH infants/toddlers need to know! You guys rock! I hope to reconnect with you guys as Renate is now almost 13 and I know Leah is about 14 or 15 years old. It would be cool if these two girls could meet again! You have my email address now. Hope to hear from you! Take care.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Petra, Yes we do remember you :) You were one of the people we first met who inspired us! Thank you for that. I can’t believe Renate is 13. Leah is 13 as well. Wow. Are you in Utah?

    [Reply]

  69. Irene Says:

    Wow, what an excellent post! Great! I especially liked this sentence: “There is still a stigma with ASL, many parents perpetuate it with their fear of allowing their child to acquire a first language that is not spoken. Fear that their child will not speak ever. My biggest fear is that my child would completely miss the learning window from 0-3 if we waited for her speech to develop before starting to communicate.”

    I feel that the medical professionals (doctors, audiologists) only see it from the medical model: they want to “fix” what they see as a problem. Therefore they give incorrect information on the use of ASL – and that is why you wrote is so important! Kids need a language rich environment to flourish! Are you involved in fighting AB20172 in California? It is a bill that will give only audiologist the right to counsel parents of deaf babies. The bill is heavily backed by the oral schools, the audiologists, and the cochlear implant companies, and hardly mentions ASL at all. Very sad!

    Also wanted to point out that I think the average for deaf students is a 4th grade reading level – but what most people don’t know is that the average reading level for non-deaf high school graduate is 6th grade! Parents of deaf children are scared with this information, often by audiologists, into thinking that they have to take an only-oral approach – and then many end up losing the window of learning that you mention. Thank you for being such a great supporter of ASL and of language immersion!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Irene, I am with you. Since most deaf children are born to hearing parents many choices are made from a place of fear rather than a place of an educated choice. What hearing parent wouldn’t want their child to hear? Of course you do! That is a natural thing to want.
    Once you really understand the impact of what you are choosing and at what cost, you might make a different choice. (not “you” specifically)
    We are no longer in CA but I have heard about AB20172. I would have to read it myself before commenting.

    [Reply]

  70. Marie S Says:

    This just makes me so sad. My sweet boy has multiple delays including being legally blind and although no one has said it out loud I feel that their expectations are way too low! It’s overwhelming. He has so much potential. We just need to develop it.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Having someone like you believing in him makes a huge difference.

    [Reply]

  71. Lynn Hnat Says:

    This is a very moving blog. You both are good parents who wanted the best education for your child. It is great to use what is the best tool for your child and your family. I do want to say that I am now 43 years old profoundly deaf woman who was born deaf. My parents did want the best education and did moved from California to St. Louis to St. Joseph Int. for the deaf which gives oralism education. I do feel that I was able to become who I am as of this. I was able to graduated from University with BFA in Architecture Design. I was able to work on projects from Disney theme parks to hotels to commerical projects with architecture firms and am now married to a hearing husband who is a professor of physics. St. Joseph Int. was able o get 90% of the students to University levels. Many are able to grow into happy adults with deaf and hearing spouses and children. I would like to say I did learn ASL when I was 18 years old and do enjoy be with other deaf people but do look into oralism as a positive way too. There are many deaf adults in leader positions that have oralism background. Good luck on your future with your girl.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Lynn Hnat, Thank you for sharing your story and success. I agree there are many pathways to success. I have no doubt that Leah will grow up to be a happy adult and she can marry deaf or hearing. She has told me she hopes her children are deaf too.

    [Reply]

  72. Carla Says:

    My little Madi is 2 and some of her signs are unique. I recently had to start working and wrote all of her signs and how she does them down for her day care provider. My biggest problem I’m having with them is to get them to pay attention. Since she is not screaming and demanding attention, she just sits quietly and signs drink, the teachers tend to ignore her. She has Down Syndrome and is very patient, but she still has needs and the quiet kids don’t always get what they need.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Carla, We have had some families take the Signing Time flashcards and simply put their child’s most frequent signs on the plastic ring and send them to their day care provider (rather than all 20-25 cards). You still would need the provider to learn the signs or at least start looking for them, but maybe something like that would help.
    www.signingtime.com/shop/flash-cards/

    [Reply]

  73. Jennifer Andrew Says:

    I am very inspired by your story. I am not deaf myself, nor do I have deaf children, but I am encouraged that you focused on your child’s potential and strength and did not let the words of so many change your determination. That is what parenting is about…knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses and using them to grow them as an individual.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Jennifer, no one knows a child’s strengths like that child’s parents. Sometimes parents forget that.

    [Reply]

  74. eurela Says:

    i was very touched by your story. i saw leah speaking on a video about ghana. how did she learn how to speak?

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Leah got a cochlear implant at age 7. After that we began working on speech.

    [Reply]

  75. Nevelle Nebeker Says:

    My youngest daughter just had her 3rd child. Thank God for you and Leah. We love you guys.
    The first two can sign… we hope the third one will also, for they can communicate with those whom need communication… Thank you leah, Thank you Racheal.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Thank YOU Nevelle,
    I too thank God for Leah and her deafness. It is impossible for me to even attempt to quantify the impact this one little girl has had on so many lives, including my own.

    [Reply]

  76. Karina Says:

    Hi Leah & Racheal,

    We would like to share this testimonial on our website. Contact us if you would grant us permission.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Yes Karina, you can share our story or link folks here. No problem.

    [Reply]

  77. Gloria Says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I can’t help myself… I have to comment. First and foremost, not only are you inspirational but you and Aaron are the exception to the rule when it comes to parenting. Carrie who posted (#57) has a very accurate perspective on the reality of what we see in the system. Granted, I agree that the system is broken and as parents you are your child’s primary advocate. Getting to the core issues though is essential. The folks reading your blog post are your supporters, they probably have similar parenting skills, and it’s almost as if preaching to the choir. As you continue your path you are gaining leverage….every day…little by little. We, you, … need to get our hands on these kids during the most critical years between ages 0-3 while the brain is establishing neural pathways and the foundational linguistic and cognitive skills are being formed. Parenting classes, how to communicate with your child through play, how to build foundational language skills that will support literacy, how to engage through multi-sensory activities, how to embrace ASL as a first language so as to ease cross-linguistic transfer to English..are all workshops you are equipped to teach. I see the same issues with kids from Hispanic descent who come from poverty. We need to mount efforts at a national level so that we can begin to affect change.

    [Reply]

    Renee Reply:

    As per above: “As you continue your path you are gaining leverage….every day…little by little. We, you, … need to get our hands on these kids during the most critical years between ages 0-3 while the brain is establishing neural pathways and the foundational linguistic and cognitive skills are being formed.”

    -Rachel, Get your HANDS on the numerous NICU babies being born, receiving heavy duty- OTOTOXIC medications that are also LIFESAVING…but leaves many, many babies discharged from the NICU with varying degrees of Hearing Loss. AS a parent we would never choose hearing over life, but no Neonatologist EVER even told us about the Ototoxic side effects, honestly (and we had 7 long NICU months to be told!) I cannot tell you how many parents of former NICU babies/Premature Babies ASSUME their child was born deaf… and even worse, how many medical professionals just let the parents believe that!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Gloria, I think this one may have reached far outside my normal audience:) The message I delivered at the Early Hearing Detection & Intervention National Conference was not candy coated at all. I had no agenda but to share my story and my truth and I will continue to do that with anyone who will listen… plus it’s one hell of a performance if I do say so myself

    Renee, I would love to. If someone can show me the way or create that connection while navigating privacy laws I am there… the best I have come up with was a national platform, public television, in hopes those who really needs us happen to find us in their living rooms.

    [Reply]

  78. tina jo Says:

    Wow, I am SO glad to come across your blog as you are reaching out to numerous parents who relate to you, sharing the route you have provided for your deaf daughter Leah. I thought of you in midst of the assembly bill introduced by California Assemblymember Mendoza (AB 2072) that causes great concern. The bill does not go far enough to help inform parents about what it means to have a deaf child. A Senate Hearing in front of the Senate Health Committee was postponed to next Wed, 6/23. Those of us in opposition continued with a rally and a press conference that will lead a pathway for the future. A perfect timing as you came to mind, and then your blog post was mentioned. I wasted no time to check what you have shared with the public.

    Yes! Just like you, we see the importance for language acquisition right from birth for every baby, which is an approach that looks at the whole child, not ears. Deaf babies should be given the SAME opportunity to acquire and develop general language proficiency as early as possible. Language is more than speech, and it is more than listening. This is often where many parents are misled or confused. Our world needs to refocus from fixing the problem to a broader consideration of nurturing the child as a whole individual, emphasizing the importance of the child’s mind. Our prime concern is to have new parents on a journey to accept their deaf child, and to understand what it means to raise a deaf child and stories like yours show them the way.

    Supporters of AB2072 have done everything in their power to marginalize ASL users (and it’s been going on for the past 100 years!). Assimilation into society or even enjoying life is not measured by anyone’s ability to speak. I do not think you would find that belief acceptable, and a knowledgeable parent like you could understand that AB 2072 claims to close the gaps for parents who have just had a newly diagnosed deaf baby, but it does not come close. We ALL recognize the importance of providing information to new parents as part of the Newborn Hearing Screening Program requirement at acute care hospitals, but this is not the bill.

    What I am hoping is you are familiar with the AB 2072 dilemma we are having out here in California. I can see how you epitomize the best route for all new parents to follow. Look at all these testimonials from other parents on your blog to whom you have given hope and insight. You will make a great ally for many!

    I would like to ask that you to take the time to check this website, www.opposeAB2072.com to learn about our movement to make changes in ensuring early language acquisition for deaf babies.

    As showcased by your series, “Signing Times!” you have encouraged many families sign even with their hearing babies. We would LOVE to have you jump on board to show the rest of the world how essential it is for Deaf babies and children to have access to visual language. Can we ask that you mail or send a fax to oppose AB 2072 to Mia Orr, the consultant of the Senate Health Committee? Here is her contact: State Capitol, Room 2191, Sacramento, CA 95814 FAX 916-651-4111 and her email is Mia.orr@sen.ca.gov

    As you quoted, “Babies crawl before they walk and sign before they talk,” the supporters of AB2072 need to “listen” to the reality of parents before they can learn what is best for Deaf babies.

    Thank you for your consideration, and for sharing your important story.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    tina jo,
    Very well put. I will check out the web-site and see if there is anything I can do to help educate parents as well as those making the laws.

    [Reply]

    tina jo Reply:

    THANK you for considering offering a hand. The most helpful thing you could do is tell your story about the struggle to get information early on, and the medical field’s pessimistic and negative attitude about Deaf babies. Right now AB 2072 is undergoing more changes, with the next step a vote on the CA senate floor. I will try to keep you posted as soon as we know the final version of the bill.

    A friend just yesterday shared that a family in Descanso was struggling with the Early Start providers to get IFSP goals written for ASL. They did not even offer to pay for their ASL tutor for which the family paid out of their pocket. The onus is on the family to fight to receive those services. The family said the resource specialist was very, very nice until she found that the family opted for ASL!

    We know this is a long fight, but it is so important for Deaf babies! Again, THANK you for taking time to reply amidst your busy schedule.

    [Reply]

  79. Loni Says:

    You’re doing the right thing! I was in your shoes 16 years ago. I was told the same thing. It is sad to say things have not changed here in San Diego. They are still telling hearing families they can’t learn ASL and their kids will not learn ASL either.

    I fought for my son and we respected that his first language would be ASL. Speech was provided and he decided to stop in the third grade. Our focus has always been literacy, English and ASL.

    His is a fully mainstreamed junior and doing great. He is the only deaf student in his school (hard sometimes) but he loves going to school there. We are blessed to have a wonderful Deaf community here.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Loni, congrats on your successes as well.
    Leah stopped wearing her hearing aids when she was 4. She was adamant, “Mom they don’t help me hear ANYTHING!” It may seem silly that we would respect the wishes of a 4 year-old but she had more experience wearing hearing aids than I did.

    [Reply]

  80. Nikki Says:

    Your story brings me to tears every time. I am thrilled to know that you, and others like you, exist. The flaws of our society will not be fixed unless we, as individuals, do something about it. It might take a million years, but a million is better than never, I guess. Your children are blessed to have you and Aaron as parents. Cheers to taking on such a noble quest.

    I did not realize you guys live in LA now, I’m up in the Antelope Valley! I’ll definitely keep my eye out for you coming to Santa Clarita, and any other things you guys do down in the city.

    We made the decision that before my son was born, we were going to get rid of cable/satellite TV. So, we’ve been using the TV as an educational tool through out my son’s life. We watch a couple of Signing Time episodes a day (via DVD- we own like 20 so far, lol!), and that is almost ALL we watch. I try and squeeze in a Spanish or French program in there every other day, too. But aside from ST/BST and Brainy Baby French and Spanish, he will not watch anything else. We also have about 8 ST CD’s in the car (for those cranky moments). My son is not deaf, but I knew that this was the kind of program that any child could benefit from. And Naeem, my son, is just absolutely enamored by it.

    I thank you all so much for enduring and prevailing for, not only the sake of your own children, but to share the benefit with all of us. There is a lot of crap on TV, but when my son comes up to me and starts signing to me his tall tales (at the age of 1 1/2), I fight the tears, am in awe, and find myself whispering “thank you” to God and to the Azavedo-Coleman families.
    You guys rock hard core.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Nikki, We are actually in Utah. We left L.A. in 2002.
    You may not have heard but we just released the first 3 DVDs of Signing Time with Spanish words included. In addition to the original play option, you can now watch the whole thing in Spanish or just watch the English ASL version and hear/read each word in Spanish as well!
    www.signingtime.com/signing-time-dvd-gift-set-vol-1-3
    and you are very welcome. Early communication is a true gift. Thank you for signing with us:)

    [Reply]

    Nikki Reply:

    Thank you!! I have been anticipating the release of these DVD’s!

    I have also recently discovered another wonderful language program, Little Pim. It was designed by the daughter of the man who created the Pimsleur language-learning programs. This time, it is for kids. They have a large selection of languages for those interested in Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, Russian, German, and more. We actually purchased the Arabic one so we can get my son acquainted with the languages of his heritage. It is so exciting that there are people creating wonderful programs to broaden the world-perspective of our children. :) You, included!

    [Reply]

  81. Lynn Says:

    Hi Rachel and Aaron,

    You know it amazes me how you continue to inspire after all this time, but every time I check back in and see what you’re up to, I find another round of encouragement with a matter of fact attitude so seldom found in today’s politically correct world. We give so many excuses to those we deem to be “different” and never even think about how we are affecting their future. When you so plainly discussed the fact that your child deserved as equal a chance as the next one, you made us all stand up and realize that our labels are not only hurtful to society, but to the individuals to which these stereotypes are applied. Leah deserves to be the best possible person she can be, just like anyone else, regardless of their race, religious views, sexual preferences, language barriers, etc. Why are we limiting our children to the preconceived notions some unenlightened professional has set for them? Thanks for showing us that all it takes is a new way of looking at each other, and finding solutions that work rather than calling it impossible! As a teacher, I find it refreshing that there are still parents out there raising children with no boundaries. Thanks for removing excuses from yours and Leah’s vocabulary. I hope more individuals learn from your example. Just maybe our future and the future of our collective children doesn’t have to look so bleak. Keep up the good work!!!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Lynn, I am by no means always inspiring. Sometimes I am embarrassed to catch myself in a first reaction that would limit my kids if I didn’t let it go and really look at the situation. For example, when Leah told us she wanted to participate in the school Spelling Bee all I wanted was to save her from this highly likely let down of an experience… my little Leah against 29 hearing kids? Instead we worked through the details and asked her how she would like us to support her efforts. Long story short she won.. she won! What if… what if I had talked her out of it because I was so afraid of how she would handle that failure?
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbBTJFy87cE

    [Reply]

  82. Sheena McFeely Says:

    I agree on one part you mentioned a while ago about the professionals… Being a professional does not automatically mean you are the best of the best. Let me provide a summary of my background before we dig deeper.

    Born into a hearing family and in Hong Kong, a country they highly rejected deaf human beings, really all disabilities. My mom was born and raised there while my father played professional soccer. They found out I was deaf a bit later than usual, BUT because of their efforts, I am who I am today. They moved to THREE COUNTRIES for me (HK, Ireland, America) in pursuit of high quality education. Went to an oral school then went to an awesome program called “Tripod” in Burbank. That day I enrolled into Tripod, it was like night and day for me. I established my identity as a DEAF person plus learned the beauty of ASL. Due to my parents and my willingness, it was a breeze for me to merge both languages – English and ASL – in this universe. As I grew up, I see a reason for hanging around in both worlds. Both have so much to OFFER!!!

    Let me speak as a mother now… My husband and I just HAD a baby girl last year. Giving birth to a deaf baby really bought a whole new perspective on the table. As I was sitting around waiting for Shaylee to finish her hearing test…I came across a book that was somewhat disturbing: “Wearing hearing aids will help you make friends.” There were other messages like these which made me quite upset because I know PLENTY who wears hearing aids do not have friends or vice versa. Imagine a parent grieving in the same room I was in and to imagine them crying more when they read the above words.

    Like you, Rachel, we go through IFSP/IEP detailing goals for Shaylee throughout the year. I’ve had some professionals who emphasized too much on her hearing skills. That is what kills some of our children’s potential in becoming who they desire to be. This is why I sought for two services – IFSP in our area and the other one from Maryland School for the Deaf. My husband and I take in their input – we filtered them to fit Shaylee’s needs as well as wants.

    On the bright side, it’s such a JOY watching Shaylee at this age being able to see our hands moving in the air. When I was a baby, all I saw was lips moving. LANGUAGE is AMAZING. Currently, Shaylee at the wee age of one has the ability to sign more than 20 words and even signs her OWN NAME. That does not stop us, we are still providing other options such as hearing aids. Thank god for EXCELLENT parents as they continue to provide the essential tools to a child like us.

    All in all, BALANCING is really the key to any child’s success. I would love to speak to you personally (not in the public eye) about this.

    (BTW: Which school does Leah go to in CA? I know California very well.)

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Sheena,
    When we moved to CA Leah was 2 and it was our intention that she attend Tripod in Burbank, CA. We are long time friends with the Walker Family. We moved to Studio City without realizing that we were outside of the Burbank School District’s boundaries (argh) we still made it work through LAUSD as I mentioned but it was not easy and our methods were not supported. Leah received additional language/reading services through CSUN, but she attended school first at Chase Elementary in Panorama City and then the Charter School CHIME opened up in Woodland Hills and even though Leah was a year too young, they allowed her in based on her test scores and being a least restrictive and appropriate environment.
    Leah is mainstreamed and attends junior high school here in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the only deaf student in her school.
    I will be in California soon for a Signing Time Event. Here are the details:

    When: Friday, August 27th beginning at 6 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. Seating begins at 5:30 p.m. You will also have a chance to meet and greet Rachel after the show!

    Where: Northpark Community Church, located at 28310 Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia, CA

    Additional Information: The ticket prices are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 2-12 yrs. Pay at the door or send payment payable to:

    Christina Haselbusch
    P.O. Box 10030
    Canoga Park, CA 91309-9909

    Please include with the payment your name, phone number & email address; you will receive an email confirmation within 10 days of receipt of your payment. You can pick up your tickets at the Will Call table at the event.

    [Reply]

    Sheena McFeely Reply:

    Rachel,

    Tripod? That’s where I went and graduated from Burbank High School. Leah would have loved the program! :o ) And I’ve known the Walkers! Its not only a small world within the Mormon community, but the deaf as well. I would love to come to your event in Valencia as I have a house there, but we just moved to Maryland for our daughter Shaylee a few months ago.

    I hope your paths will cross each other’s one day. Keep up the work!!!!!

    [Reply]

  83. Angela Says:

    We were told the same thing when my daughter was younger, it was drilled in my head to ensure early literacy skills when she was not even 2. Good for you questioning that fact. It is really sinful to stereotype a young child because in the end without dedicated parents children will fall into these ‘expected’ statistics.
    We too were encouraged to not choose sign for our daughter. We did choose AVT but taught her sign as well and luckily over time she regained most of her hearing. It is a parents choice to decide how their child will communicate and more than one means to communicate is not a sin, being frustrated because they have not been given a way to communicate is.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Angela, Early literacy is key. Nice job! She regained most of her hearing??? Wow I have never heard of that happening. What was causing the hearing loss?

    [Reply]

  84. Randy Lee (angels_pop) Says:

    Wow.

    Wow.

    Yep. I think I want to help fix the system (or help people make it work despite the system).

    Yep.

    Wow.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Randy Lee,
    Information is power. Look how many people never even considered this, never even knew it was happening… and now they will not be able to forget it.

    [Reply]

  85. donna Says:

    Thank goodness Leah has you for a mom. As a general ed teacher I am always AMAZED and the number of parents who not only do not make the time to show up for IEP meetings, but don’t even call in or ask questions about their child’s plan.
    So glad you did your research and did what you knew was right and THRILLED you have allowed all of us to be a part of your ASL experience!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    donna, “It’s some body else’s problem/responsibility” is such a dangerous game to play when it comes to your own children. Not showing up, not staying informed? Yikes!

    [Reply]

  86. AuD Says:

    As an audiologist, one of my greatest frustrations is when a school system fights parents over recommendations I’ve made. A major problem I’ve run in to is when the school system tells me (as if I’m a child that needs things explained) that the law may say ‘free and appropriate education’ but that there isn’t the funding available to ACTUALLY uphold the ‘law.’ It boils my blood when a child is denied equal access to education because they aren’t failing first.
    Another frustration of mine is when families I have counseled about language options tell me that other professionals have told them not to sign with their children. I have a patient whose parents, upon going to a cochlear implant evaluation, were told this. The baby had well over 15 signs and no spoken words. We’d demonstrated time and time again that his hearing aids were not amplifying speech in to the audible range. Yet these other specialists were advising this family, like so many others, to cut off the child’s access to language and communication. I told that mom, “I hope you ignored their advice.” I cringe at the idea that because a child has a cochlear implant, they don’t need ASL. What happens if they go swimming? Or at bath time? Or at night when it comes of to sleep? Does the need to communicate dissolve in those situations?

    I find myself telling families that the advice that I give them and that other professionals give them is exactly that, advice. And that they need to look at all of their options make the decisions that are best for their family.

    One more tidbit in support of using sign language:
    I have a three year-old daughter without any kind of delays or disabilities, but still used signs with her. One reason was to plant the seed that there are many languages and ways to communicate. The other was to promote early language learning and ease the frustrations of not being able to communicate as a baby. She signed her first word at 5 months old – ‘milk’ – and took off from there. I honestly can’t remember a time when my daughter was not able to communicate with us.

    [Reply]

    Tracey Reply:

    I am so glad that someone in the field is offering this advice to patients. I started signing with my first child for fun and I, too, have enjoyed nearly continuous communication with my kids.

    I have been asked about signing by parents/grandparents of children with disabilities, they have all been discouraged from using sign with their children. Many of them believe that signing is only good for children without difficulties (I’m still trying to work out the logic of that one).

    Your professional advice bears a lot of weight with people, thanks for getting out the word that communication does not delay communication!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    AuD, Are you for real? No seriously! Can I PLEASE keep you in my back pocket? Do you know how many times I NEED support from a real LIVE audiologist who isn’t afraid of small signing children? Whenever a parents tells me that their child’s audiologist or speech therapist has told them to stop signing I tell that parent to fire that person and find someone who actually keeps up on current information. Oooh, I so want to pick your brain! Would you be willing to partner up with me and co-host a live chat on the subject?

    [Reply]

  87. Mei Says:

    I had to write to thank you for writing an inspiring blog. I’m a deaf mother, from a deaf family, with PhD degree so I am very well aware of the bleak reading level progression/oppression that is given to deaf children. I have a hearing sister with down syndrome who signs fluently, yet it was a constant battle for my parents convincing the school that her primary language is ASL and it needs to be incorporated in her education because she IS hearing! It was not until I had a child of my own who is hearing with Autism that I understood how hard it is to sail the uncharted water even if other parents have gone through it as well. We are given with the responsibility of opening the eyes to the world to children with gifts. Often I question when or how to push the limit of the boundaries created, yet it has to be done even if we weary of the battle. HANDWAVES to you for navigating through this and influencing other parents on the importance of ASL!!

    Both of my boys enjoyed Signing Time tremendously when they were young. I also bought DVDs for my family and friends. I know you already know this, but you deserve to hear (read) it once more – You’re doing awesome work! You go, Mother Warrior!

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Mei, “weary of the battle” is such a perfect description. It should not have to be this hard. There are so many children who can hear who still need the benefits of ASL in the classroom and at home. I have heard of IEPs where families are told that an ASL environment or interpreter would be a “luxury” for their hearing child who has Down syndrome or Autism. Since when is access to information a luxury? Since when is the ability to understand and be understood a luxury?
    As you well know what I shared is just one slice, one facet of the big picture and the big problem. I don’t know how to solve it. I really don’t. It’s simply my hope that others can find something in my story, something in my words that empowers them to make a difference for their child, children, students, community etc. Thank you for being an inspiration and an example to hearing parents who may have had no idea of what is really possible for their deaf children. It really does shake some people up… deaf adults with PhDs :)

    [Reply]

  88. Lawrence Hallahan Says:

    Bravo for you all. I work in Guyanam,South America and the attitude towards the Deaf is that they can’t learn. Their English skills are nil, nada, nothing. the adults Deaf persons have little or no knowledge of the abc’s. Many have not gone to school beyond Nursery. The Social attitude and Ministry of Education attitude is that “Special Needs” children cannot learn very much. Teachers in the Special Needs Schools are inadequately trained. None know Sign Language (a few know some Signs however).
    Your illustration of statments about other catagories of children (black, girl, etc.) is entirely appropriate. We would not accept such statements but when it comes to Deaf, we do accept it.
    God Bless you and may He grant you further grace to persevere with your daughter.
    PL

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Lawrence, we spent time in Ghana, Africa and found the same attitudes. Leah traveled to Ghana to work with the deaf students there and to show the hearing faculty what is really possible for a deaf child… yes even a deaf girl. (Layers of stigma at work there too) When we came home Leah said, “I love my school. I love my family and I love my country!” She really was able to see and appreciate the wonderful opportunities she has had for no reason other than being a deaf girl who happened to be born in the U.S.A. And yes, many of the educators were surprised that Leah “knows the same amount as a hearing child”

    [Reply]

  89. Laura Says:

    Applaud! I strongly believe every mother with or without disability should work with a child.

    When you explained your experience with your daughter, Leah, my mother went through the exactly same thing. With her help, my life made a HUGE positive impact. The difference was that I am one of the few people was able to make it though graduate program. Unfortunately, my classmates did not.

    As a young child, I remember my mother would work excessively on my speech, reading, and writing. She used to put 3×5 index cards with English print all over the house. It certainly helped me to read at an early age. Thus, I was forced to skip a grade from pre-school to first grade. It helped me to speed my education up, but again I did miss out some of my childhood experiences.

    Now, I am the mother of two hearing children. My older son is G.A.T.E. (Gifted Academic Talented Education.) I still have to push him onto a higher expectation. My younger son is high function Autism. With my support at a young age, he is in 3rd grade full time mainstream classes, with an aide three times a week (only to encourage him to finish his work ; otherwise, he would leave incomplete work though he has lots of potentials.) and many more positive with the supports.

    For this reason to share my experience from my mother and for myself as a mother, I totally support you for whatever you stand on your child, Leah’s right! She deserves to have on-going education. Supporting and working with the child with or without disablity makes a difference.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Laura, LOL we too labelled the house with 3X5 index cards so Leah would know that there was not only a sign for everything but a written word. We had “television” “carpet” “stairs” “table” “door” and countless others all over our little apartment. Leah also skipped her 2nd year of pre-school and entered Kindergarten early Congratulations to you (and your mom) for your successful education. I do find myself wondering where so many of Leah’s past classmates have ended up in terms of their education. Only time will tell.

    [Reply]

  90. Jamie O'Toole Says:

    Rachel, I was just pointed in the direction of your blog. Ive sat here for most of my morning reading through all your post, and I have to thank you for being so open and honest with us.

    We found out that my daughter is severely deaf during her newborn screening process. Of course we went through grief and fear. I even wondered what I did wrong during my pregnancy to cause it. When we shared the news with family and friends we got back a lot of mixed responses. Most people responded that they felt sorry for us and it had to be so horrible…that just made me want to deck them.Those comments made me feel like they thought my child was defective. She is not defective shes just deaf. I found my self telling people time and time again that it is no big deal and that she will live a full happy rich life.

    Her name is Becca and she is my first daughter. When she was 3 weeks old I started looking for resources I came across your videos. She loves Leahs farm she sings Squirrel when she wants to watch it. (we think she really just wants to make googley eyes at Alex) Becca is now two and has a two month old baby sister who we think possibly has some vision issues.

    Signing time has been a life saver for us. Thank you for making that dream of yours come to life.

    [Reply]

    Shellie Sager Reply:

    Jamie – I’m so sorry you received so little support when you shared the news with your support system. I think back to the amazing woman I babysat for when I was young (1978). The first time I went to her house, I did not know she was deaf. I walked in and scared her to death! After that, I discovered an amazingly, beautiful, smart woman with two hearing children – and she was a very successful business woman. That was in 1979, with little technology as I’m sure exists today. If I were your friend and you told me you just found out your baby was deaf, my response to you would be, “there will be obstacles, but nothing that can’t be overcome!” I would never feel sorry for you – having a healthy baby girl!

    [Reply]

  91. Kiersten Says:

    Rachel,
    Good for you and your husband for being so proactive in your daughter’s educational journey.
    I am so sorry you have had to go through this; some states and regions of the country are sadly behind in the special education and IEP department. When I was in k-4, I went to a mainstreaming school where deaf and hearing impaired students were integrated into “normal” classrooms after spending time in deaf only classes. The students were always in PE and music classes with us, and once they showed mastery of lip reading and/or sign, they were placed into normal classes with an interpreter; hearing students were required to learn sign as well. When I moved to a new district, nothing like that program had ever been heard of, and when I moved to a new state a couple years later deaf students were just placed in special ed and only mainstreamed with an aide if they could prove proficiency in lip reading. I never understood that.
    Kudos to you for being an advocate!! Leah is very lucky that you do that. Not all parents do.

    [Reply]

  92. Elizabeth Says:

    My children are in the habit of reading over my shoulder when I’m checking my favorite blogs. Your post today just really spoke to all uf us. I decided that before I hopped onto my blog to put a link to your amazing words, I needed to leave a comment to thank you, and agonized about what to say. 15 year old to the rescue: “Just tell her “YOU ROCK!” She’s a mom, she’ll understand. So there you go. You rock.

    [Reply]

  93. Shellie Sager Says:

    Hello, I see your videos on Nick Jr. (and ejnoy them very much!), and I googled you today to find out what your story was. What an inspiration you are! I never would have assumed deaf children are stupid and to hear it from those we rely on to teach us – well, that’s just appalling! I actually googled you to see why you wear the colored “band-aids” on your fingers when you sign? Is that an ASL tool? I’ve never seen anyone signing have them so just curious. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  94. A mother shares her story on her blogsite | Stop AB2072 Now! Says:

    [...] Coleman, a mother to a deaf daughter, Leah, wrote a blog on her story. Share/Bookmark var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="A mother [...]

  95. kris Says:

    holy smokes woman!
    you are an inspiration. i am floored. i could go on…i am a bilingual teacher in texas and the experiences that you describe- watching depressing conversation in the native language and work that isn’t up to par was considered “normal” for hearing bilingual kids until recently as well.
    i am so impressed with you.
    have you considered speaking to parent groups? i am so impressed.
    kris

    [Reply]

  96. CheryLfromMA Says:

    Thanks very much Rachel for joining to oppose AB2072!!! yoiur story is powerful! we love you!Leah is very lucky having you who believes in ASL!
    Cheryl in Mass, Deaf parent of 2 beautiful hearing/ASL children

    [Reply]

  97. Angela Says:

    I smiled when read your story. Leah is lucky to have a parent alike you. I assure you she will accomplish with her life. I am deaf retiree and using ASL. I got my degree in Social Work 32 years ago.

    [Reply]

  98. Alex Smith Says:

    Wow! I never heard until this story. I’m glad that you keep find a right asl teacher!! I’m deaf and grew in Tulsa, they has deaf progams. I graduate high school with my 5 grade read level. I’m currently student at Tulsa Community College. Deaf can anything to doing. I’m 5th best in state for chess. I’m beat everyone in last December who is hearing. Your story is so amazing!! I’m happy to being deaf. :)

    [Reply]

  99. smap19541 Says:

    Rachel, u are definitely an inspiration to the deaf people all over the world! This story is good way to spread to the hearing parents who have deaf children who do not know what to do. This story definitely will help lot deaf children to become successful in their life! Continue sharing your story with the world for as long as u live. Double thumbs up to Rachel and her beautiful family.

    [Reply]

  100. Ryan Commerson Says:

    Rachel and Aaron,

    I admire your tenacity. I trust you would appreciate this short film we just produced: “Gallaudet” – can be viewed via www.facundoelement.com or directly at movie.gallaudet.edu.

    To parents everywhere, next time someone has the “balls” to tell you that your deaf child is stupid, show them this film.

    Cheers,
    RC

    [Reply]

    Petra Horn-Marsh Reply:

    Ryan, don’t forget to mention your other film “Redefining DEAF”. :) It is a powerful 45 minute film, Rachel & Aaron. Check out: www.mosinternational.com/movie.html.

    [Reply]

    Ryan Commerson Reply:

    Smile, thanks Petra! Rachel and Aaron, if you do sit down and watch the film via www.mosinternational.com, you might want to be sure that your kids aren’t around. A glass of wine or Chimay Red will complement the screening.

    :)
    RC

    [Reply]

  101. Abby Says:

    This post is amazing… I am a teacher of the Deaf and am trying to fight the good (very difficult) fight of bilingualism. No matter how much success you show and no matter how much you do to convince other professionals that this works, it seems that it only takes a few well placed “professionals” to knock the argument supporting ASL down and confuse the parents. When you make a statement like “your child will never learn to speak if you sign to them” of COURSE it scares parents. Why would anyone be allowed to speak such unfounded and damaging statements to parents just seeking guidance?!?! Rachel. I ask you to think about speaking to schools for the Deaf… to communicate to the professionals that are stuck in their old and WRONG ways, showing them the damage they can do… and to give support to those of us in the trenches debunking years of myths and fears these people have instilled in families…
    Thank you for reminding me that we are not alone in this and that we CAN change the system.

    [Reply]

  102. Alysa Says:

    Reading stories like this make me so thankful for our public school deaf/HH program! We have been thrilled with our son’s teachers from Day 1 as they have used a bilingual approach to maximize residual hearing and speech skills, and, at the same time, embracing deafness and ASL. We have another 19 month old daughter who will join the program next year. We also have a state-funded program for deaf mentors – invaluable! Wow, but to be told your child will never excel academically… just, wow! And, so ignorant of those “teachers”.

    [Reply]

  103. Jessica Says:

    Wow… I’m really proud of you for doing what you did. I was born hearing and became deaf at the age of 2 1/2 years old as a result of spinal meningitis. When my mom found out I was deaf, she looked into programs. She got suggestions for oral program, but she decided total communication was the best for me. She wanted so bad to be able to communicate with me. She didn’t want me to feel left out. I attended Bella Vista Elementary 3 months after I became deaf. My mom said after I became deaf, I was distant. I guess after 2 1/2 years of talking and hearing, my life was so different. After I have been at the school with sign language and speech therapy for a few months, I started to blossom. I was back to my old self. That’s how my mom knew she did the right thing. I have a really good speech if I concentrate and I have a pretty good English… didn’t you notice?
    My mom signs really well and we talk about different things. Also when they tested me after I have been at the school for a few months, they saw that I was 1 1/2 year ahead of my age.

    I don’t know what happened to those deaf programs anymore. I work for LACOE and I work with deaf kindergarteners and first graders. Most of them have SEVERE language delay. The teachers work so hard.. BUT IT’s ALWAYS the parents. They believe the same thing you first heard. SO SAD. I applaud you for your efforts. Keep up the good work! Your daughters are lucky to have YOU!

    [Reply]

  104. Cousin Vinny Says:

    Thank you for an inspiring article and sharing your family’s story with the world. I will wish the best for your family and Leah. With involved parents like you, I will not be surprised to see Leah being a successful person and a wonderful human being.

    [Reply]

  105. Lee in MD Says:

    Rachel, Our daughter is now 30. We went through nearly the same experiences with her in NM elementary schools 25 years ago. The superindendent was a wonderful, progressive educator and provided almost everything AJ needed. NMSD in Sante Fe at that time was a wonderful resource to us. My job took us to ND/MN border and we found both of their schools for the deaf to be excellent. Many of AJ’s classmates went on to college and graduated. AJ attended Gallaudet in DC. It amazes me that you and other parents are going through the exact same fights today that we went through 25 years ago! It also amazes me that there is such a reluctance on the part of “educators” to embrace ASL for deaf kids.

    [Reply]

  106. Lee's Daughter Says:

    I also want to add to my dad’s comments (Lee in MD) about the struggles that we faced. My parents were told not to teach me ASL because I would never speak and that I would be “dumb” for the rest of my life if they did that. That’s when they met a wonderful educator who went to Gallaudet for grad school. My teacher didn’t believe that because we were deaf that we should not know the meanings and usage of words, in the 2nd and 3rd grade I had spelling words that were at least 11 letters long, and we used ASL in our classroom as well as having speech therapy time. I’m fluent in both spoken English and ASL. I was above grade level in English and reading my entire life. I now work for the Food and Drug Administration. Keep up your fantastic work with Leah, it will definitely pay off.

    [Reply]

  107. Camille Says:

    I am blessed to have a beautiful little girl with perfect hearing. However, since she was 4 months old we started using ASL with her as a tool to improve her speech from a young age. We use the signing time series. She is now nearly 2 and still loves it, though uses the signs so much less now that she speaks so much. I try to continue with basics so she will one day not feel embarrassed if she is in the company of a deaf child/person. I wish the there was an academic requirement in schools for people to learn basic ASL. We focus so much on foreign languages…why not ASL?

    [Reply]

  108. Steve Says:

    My wife and I know the anguish of being hearing parents of deaf children. We have two profoundly deaf daughters. Our oldest daughter graduated from Michigan with a 3.49 and our younger daughter was valedictorian at Texas School for the Deaf and graduated with honors from R.I.T. We used Signed English rather than ASL in their early life to encourage learning English syntax. We were also in a City that had a clinic similar to the Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles and an educational system that did everything possible to help them succeed. Hours and hours of work at night, as well, contributed to their success. The bottom line, however, is that with the proper support system, their is no reason that the deaf cannot succeed academically. We never gave up.

    [Reply]

  109. Julie Martin Says:

    Hi Rachel,

    My name is Julie Martin and I am one of your new signing time instructors. I was raised oral deaf due to the fact that my parents wanted me to be able to succeed in the world when I grew up meaning to be able to get a job and interact with hearing people. As I got older, I had the option to learn sign language and I have generously used both in education and professions to succeed. I have a college degree and have worked in the corporate business world for over 18 years and am now currently working on my MBA and developing my own business teaching sign language for all ages using signing time products. I truly believe I will be able to show parents that have deaf or hearing children with communication limitations that they cannot give up and their children will succeed learning sign language along with other forms of communication skills. I have been told I am the first deaf/HOH to join the academy and I am very excited about this and hope to inspire many! My daughter is six years old and will be in first grade this Fall 2010. She learned to read at an early age as well with both of her parents deaf/HOH and has been tested at third grade reading level. I cannot tell you how much I strongly believe ST has really given us a great start on her reading skills as she was reading before she was two years old! Now, that is amazing and was signing words to me for communication before she spoke simple sentences. Our school system offers ASL for a foreign language to meet our state college foreign language requirement! I am excited how much has come along since I was growing up and in college. I have been amazed how much the community has changed and strongly believe that learning to read and sign comingle into expanding language development that will teach deaf and hearing children to advance beyond ASL and allow them to test at higher education levels. ASL is definitely being shown that it provides that path in the right direction in advanced language and reading skills. There are so many parents out there that are seeing this and anxious to get Signing time classes and DVD’s in their homes to get started in the right direction that by the time their child is of school age they are prepared and many will ask how they did it. Two simple words, Signing Time!

    [Reply]

  110. Tom Says:

    What?!?! They told you that because your child was deaf that she would only read at the third grade level?! What does being able to hear have to do with reading? My son is non-verbal and has Down syndrome and we expect him to read at least at a third grade level. I always assumed that having a non-hearing child would be a breeze compared to my situation (although our school district has been wonderful). I always assumed that schools would have no problem with your situation. I guess some school districts will do and say anything to avoid their responsibilities.

    [Reply]

  111. Ashley Says:

    I stumbled on your blog while on my friends. I wanted to let you know that I think you are amazing. Children need more parents like you who will do everything and anything they can to make their life the best it can be. There are laws for a reason, so people cannot be mistreated. I have a sister in law with downs and was told that she would never learn her name so they were only going to teacher her the first letter because she wouldn’t ever be smarter than that. She writes, types, and does more than people who do not have a disability. NEVER let anyone else tell you how you can raise your child. Deaf children can do so much! Just as my non deaf child. Ignorance is an ugly thing. I recently had a student of mine ( a 40 year old special ed. major) have her mouth drop open when another one of my students mention that his mother was blind. She said ” how did she have children, she’s blind?” He responded with “why couldn’t she?” Life is different with a disability, but that does not mean that anyone should be limited on what they can have. People in the “Special ed world” are often the first to poop on ideas, parents are what make the difference. Keep it up and good luck on your journey.

    [Reply]

  112. Lucretia Says:

    I too have a son who is deaf. He has gone to school in Texas for 2 1/2 years, and although the schools are not set up for children who deaf, he had a wonderful teacher and wonderful aides. I just moved back to California, to be told that they don’t have a D.H.H. classroom because “there is only a handful of deaf children so that doesn’t warrant creating an entire classroom”. So now they want to give him an interpreter and put him in a regular classroom. My son has other special needs as well as being deaf, and I don’t see this being beneficial for my son. I have been asking myself what to do for that last month, and my sister told me about your blog. It feels better that someone else has the same thoughts as me. I have been so frustrated since moving back, I don’t understand why people think it’s ok not to offer a deaf child a proper education. I went to a parent’s w/special needs children advocacy center after I talked to the school to find someone who might help me. The lady in there recommended a boarding school that is 5 hours away for my 5 year old. The school looks amazing, but they want me to ship my son off from Sunday afternoon to Friday evening. That was their solution for parents of deaf children, let somebody else raise them!!! I am still very frustrated and looking for ways to change this. Glad I’m not alone on my journey.

    [Reply]

  113. kristin pettler Says:

    I love how you have written your journey. And how you fight for your girls.
    Signing Time taught our whole house so much, almost 5 years ago we had a little girl, Kaitlin. Kaitlin has Down syndrome. She is smart and can sign and talk, learning and growing more every day and I too worry about the school system and them trying to fit her into their box.

    You are an inspiration to other parents!
    thank you !!

    [Reply]

  114. Rose Says:

    Lily is still excited that she met you during your trip to MN! Our pediatrician was so worried about her speech since she signed first (she is hearing & I am hard of hearing) as were some family members who chastised me for choosing signing; now they can’t believe her verbal vocabulary or how she can verbalize things we sign in her presence (I prompted her with ASL for the rainbow song and a family member was shocked). I use your story as an example of why not to accept the minimum for my other daughter in trying to get a 504 plan. Thanks for inspiring so many by sharing your story!

    [Reply]

  115. Lindsay Says:

    I am a pediatric audiologist and professor who cares very much about language and communication development in my patients. I try so hard to convey this to my students, but this blog post says it better than I ever could. Thanks so much for writing this, and I look forward to sharing it with my students (after all, the whole reason I wanted to teach was so that I could train students to ignore the statistics and focus on helping each and every child with hearing impairment reach their full potential). Thanks, Rachel– you are an inspiration!

    [Reply]

  116. Taylor Says:

    Hi

    Check out this information: We want you in favor for ASL, especially the comment from Camille on June 23rd, 2010 at 10:46. I am inspired by your positive comment about your experiences and the academic requirement for basic ASL.

    Please look into this International Congress on the Education of the Deaf. Is it enough?

    The conference is happening in Vancouver, British Columbia from July 18 – 22 2010.

    Your support on ASL for the babies and children, hearing or deaf is enormously appreciated. However, I want to note the British Columbia ICED Apology Committee has been working very hard to work with ICED to receive an apology. It looks like it will not happen: note from copied and pasted:

    **************************************************

    letter to ICED:
    Audism Free America (AFA) announces our grave discontent that the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) refuses to apologize for the ICED resolutions of 1880 at their Milan Congress. This infamous resolution erroneously and unjustly declared “the incontestable superiority of speech” to be the rule of the day in Deaf education resulting in decades of abuse (physical, emotional, social, spiritual, educational, and linguistic) and the removal of Deaf people from the classrooms and boardrooms of Deaf schools across the globe,

    In declaring our discontent with ICED’s refusal to acknowledge and apologize for their role in the ICED Milan 1880 resolutions we heed ML King Jr’s words of “We must have the spiritual audacity to assert our somebodyness.”

    The resolutions were unjust and have never formally been rescinded or apologized for by ICED. We understand that ICED has been in negotiations with the British Columbia ICED Apology Committee and have reached an agreement for a “new beginning” document which does not include an apology. While we were always puzzled as to why the concept of an apology should have ever been a negotiable matter, we were assured numerous times that an apology was in order and would be forth coming. The latest information we have is that no apology will be granted.

    In the spirit of asserting our somebodyness, AFA asserts that the apology is owed to us and those who came before us and will come after us. Now is the time for standing – not for yielding.

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated “I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.”

    We are only requesting that which is right, just, and good – and long overdue – an apology for your ICED MIlan 1880 resolutions.

    Let Freedom Roll,
    AFA

    **********************************************

    www.wfdeaf.org/pdf/ICED_article.pdf

    Show your support for Sign Language.

    There will be two B.C. Deaf Community meetings in Room 2201 at Douglas College on Monday and Tuesday, July 19 and 20 for members of the B.C. Deaf community.

    This will be about what the International Congress on Education of the Deaf’s decision about our DEMANDS for an apology for the 1880 Milan decisions that have hurt us for 130 years. Presenters from both B.C. and Europe will be on hand to inform the B.C. Deaf community members.

    Monday: B.C. and European Deaf people will make their presentations

    Tuesday: a panel discussion on what we should do for the future generations of B.C. Deaf people

    if you wish to contact – you can go to this website where you can write an e mail to Wayne Sinclair –

    deafbc.ca/archives/4670

    Thank you for your support and united we can!

    [Reply]

  117. Mary Says:

    The deaf ed. classes near me use English sign language which is terribly complicated and difficult and the students (and I) suck at it and can barely communicate. But the teachers insist that English sign language, unlike ASL, prepares them for reading because it follows normal english grammar. (begging the obvious question “If you can’t communicate because it’s so complicated how can it prepare you for ANYTHING much less reading?)

    Do you have any videos (youtube or anything?) showing how one teaches a child who knows ASL, to read? Maybe these teachers just need to see how it’s done. (that, and they need a kick in the pants like the one you gave to your school system– woohoo Colemans!)

    [Reply]

  118. Petra Horn-Marsh Says:

    Hi Rachel, fab that you remember us! Believe it or not, we are in Kansas & Renate will be an 8th grader at Kansas School for the Deaf. We love it here very much. Renate was in SLC two weeks ago on a Sorenson related business. Next time we are in Utah, we need to reconnect! Contact us whenever you are in the midwest! :)

    [Reply]

  119. Derek Says:

    Rachel–so incredibly well said. And here is the other tragedy–the public school system does this to ALL kids, hearing and deaf. Everyone intrinsically knows this, but no one in the system has the guts to say it as boldly as the PIP person said it to you.

    [Reply]

    Cindy Castro Reply:

    Hear, hear! That’s why I try to spread the message that homeschooling IS a viable option. :-)

    [Reply]

  120. Holly Says:

    You speak the truth. The special education system under IDEA is just broken, even though occasionally good things can come out of it, so much advocacy and vigilance is required by parents on a constant basis, and then the district official are condescending, rude and outright wrong in what they say. You are inspiring, though, in all you do for your daughters. I think about your example a lot when I am advocating for my boys (and even when I am working out and training). Thanks for the great work you do and for sharing it.

    [Reply]

  121. Justine Says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I can’t imagine what you must be going through and truly admire not only your willingness but passion to fight for your daughter’s right, because of course it is a right, to not be limited by the educational system. Please know I am thinking of you and other families like yours.

    My heart just dropped when you said “My child is deaf, not stupid” because it is never fair to limit a child’s, or any person’s potential to learn and be successful. I have to admit though that my thoughts turned to parents whose children are also not stupid, but whose children may have only achieved a 3rd grade reading level by the age of 18 for whatever reason.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and your life to encourage others. It has truly encouraged me to learn of your story. And thank you also for sharing your amazing voice and hands to make learning sign language and learning to communicate easy and fun for children no matter what their abilities are.

    Best to you and your family.

    [Reply]

  122. Kim Says:

    We also were told by the school district that signing was not accaptable in the classroom because it was not we’ll known and people didn’t use ASL in the “real world”.!!!! Not an acceptable answer for me, I know it is used and understood by many. I was very offended that made such a statement. It was our son’s only means of communication as 3 year old with Autism. He is now able to speak verbally and typicaly signs along when he is talking. He learned to finger spell from the Signing Time videos. That really helped him communicate if he did not know of a sign for a word he would just spell it out.

    [Reply]

  123. tulpen Says:

    I feel incredibly lucky that we were aimed at a school that uses Total Communication that started home visits when he was only 15 months old, only weeks after his hearing loss was diagnosed.

    (Also lucky that we had the heads up that he was going to lose his hearing.)

    He’s 7, entering 2nd grade already reading at a second grade level, fluent in ASL, pretty competent in English and surrounded by Deaf AND Hearing staff to serve as models.

    I wish we weren’t so lucky. This should just be the norm for Deaf kids.

    [Reply]

  124. Christina Says:

    Hello to all. What an empowering and needed blog! I just discovered it.

    I’m hearing. My middle son is 23, profoundly deaf without speech, and a recent BA Psych grad from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

    Like many of you, my son’s father and I were devastated and bewildered upon diagnosis at 13 months, but after research and our own bumbling discoveries we raised him in a communication rich environment. Worried about making a bad choice, we chose everything! (almost – no cochlear implant; they were crude back than in any case.)

    We used signed English (easiest for us & we reasoned that it would help him learn to read), introduced him to deaf people and ASL early, used hearing aids/FM, and worked hard at speech therapy in various forms (didn’t work out, as often happens with profound deafness). The key to our success with our son, I believe, was our openness to all ideas, and using the “happiness factor” as our guide: If he was not happy and thriving, then we needed to change something. Period.

    Anyway, good to see all the discussion on this blog. It’s so important for parents to feel strong enough to ask hard questions and push through questionable advice from experts who cannot know your child as well as you do.

    The key concern is language, not modality: make sure your child has a full, rich language (going in and coming out) so his or her brain can grow to its capacity. It doesn’t matter HOW you do that, but you MUST do it. Don’t settle for cheap imitations of language such as simple rote speech or baby signs. No full language = no full thinking. That’s what topnotch psychologists who study language and the brain (and deafness) say, and that’s what I’ve come to believe from what I see around me.

    It’s appalling to see the extent of intellectual dumbing down of perfectly capable deaf children everywhere because tragically underinformed hearing parents keep them from accessing language in the CHILD’S natural form (whether we like it or not): visual.

    My son and I are in the midst of researching studies and interviewing people on deaf literacy (touching on all the factors in these blog entries) for an upcoming book/DVD website that will hopefully help, as this blog does. We would welcome views and thoughts on what needs to be in this book — aimed mostly at parents but also educators and specialists of all stripes. Also, our upcoming website: deafNOTdumb, will be a clearing house of information, links and communication opportunities (deaf – hearing).

    Like Rachel, we just want to add our pebbles to the pool of misunderstanding and help deaf kids achieve what they deserve to achieve in life.

    Best wishes to all you struggling parents. If you follow your parenting impulses to make your child’s life happier and easier, not sadder and harder, you will do the right things. And always remember, any choice you make today can always be changed later. Stay open, stay flexible, do the best you can with what you’ve got. This is not about “one strike and you’re out.”

    CG in Edmonton, Alberta

    [Reply]

  125. sandra germinaro Says:

    Let’s change society the way how they think about deaf children… they think they are stupid because deaf babies, children and people have been oppressed over the years which made us stupid. Enough is enough… we need hearing parents allies like you to fight for us and tell the system that they are wrong! Dead wrong! Deaf community gives deaf babies, children, people, and ASL language HOPE.

    OPPOSE AB2072! Thank you,

    [Reply]

  126. Sam Says:

    Returning from NAD conference via workshop session with few Supt. of deaf residence campus plus board of Lex. in NYC, the debate was very good but last comment. Deaf guy signed, “Do not blame deaf school campus because of hearing parents hold deaf kids for delaying until too late so deaf schools has hard time to teach delayed deaf kids catch up until 21 years. I agreed with that comment.
    Visiting my deaf farmer in Utah, one hearing parents found out about deaf farmer who was from deaf resident school and bought deaf kid who graduated from Utah School for the Deaf but this kid still not have full time job and just sit to watch TV set daily. Deaf farmer’s deaf wife asked me why USDB gave this kid HighSchool degree.
    His hearing parents admitted to not attend his son in 20 years, too late. Now AB2072 makes worse spread to many states that we face this year.

    [Reply]

  127. Jennie Says:

    Rachel,
    You are a wonderful person. One of my best friends from middle school to present is deaf and she has helped me to understand that the stigma behind “deafness” is totally wrong and misunderstood even by professionals (and sometimes best friends). My daughter is not deaf, but I chose to raise her learning sign language first, then to learn to read, then math, etc. I am a firm believer that babies/children love to learn and that our school system is corrupt for all of them. Our brains stop developing around 6 years of age – right when our kids begin to go to school. After that, it’s harder to learn. I have read Glenn Doman’s books and he states that a baby’s intelligence is limited to what we teach her. Babies want to learn and can learn more than adults can imagine if one actually takes the time to teach them during the first 6 years of life. It’s all about early exposure. In my former profession (now I’m a SAHM) as a pharmacy team leader, sign language is a skill that can prove invaluable. Now, I am learning it as well. I only hope I can keep up with my daughter’s desire to sign and learn.

    Your daughters are beautiful! I love to read your stories and am inspired by what you have conquered. My daughter is just shy of 11 months (adjusted age 9.5 months) and in the past month or so she has learned her first 5 signs watching ST! Thank you – you’re an angel and your videos totally capture her attention. I know she is learning when she watches your videos. She giggles at the beginning ALWAYS!

    [Reply]

  128. Mavis Says:

    I was googling to see if there is any deaf cyclists doing Lotoja and came across this blog. Not quite what I hoped to find, but I couldn’t help reading your story.

    I am deaf since birth and currently working on my PhD in Biology at University of Utah. Of course, I am planning to do Lotoja this year. (I won’t be as fast as I would be because I am not healthy this year, but I will surely be out there to have fun!)

    Well, I wonder if you know of the Hands and Voices organization, which is a parent-leading one:

    www.handsandvoices.org

    My hearing mother, Lorna Irwin, did a lot for the Idaho chapter one for years now. You can connect her if you wish. (Her e-mail address is posted on the Idaho chapter’s homepage.) We hope to set up one in Utah someday, but we need more interested Utah parents!

    All the best,
    Mavis

    [Reply]

  129. Lex Coleman Says:

    Dear Rachel Coleman: Thank you for sharing all that you share. It comforts us to know that what we are going through is not unique and we are not alone. We have a son with Down Syndrome and is also deaf. In addition, he has a couple of other medical issues…a trach and he is fed totally via a g-tube. Due to the fact he was 10 weeks premature we spent what seems like the first 2-3 years of his life more or less striving to keep him alive. He is now 10 and we continue to strive help him meet his full potential. Like the many people who above have blogged, we have had both good experiences with the public schools as well not so great. Since you have traveled extensively and met people from various areas around the country we were wondering if you could/would recommend a city/state/area that stands out in your mind that could positively address the special needs of our son, our situation? Signed, Willing To Move

    [Reply]

  130. Dolores Says:

    Hello I have a 2 yr old son Aaron. We were worried that he might be Autistic since he displayed some mild signs as my nephew and the only word he said was MAMA. So we asked his ped. to evaluate him when he was 18 months she did not find anything medicaly wrong with him. So she send us to Early Intervention to see if maybe they could help us out… He was tested and we were told he had great motor skills but had language skills of a 6-9month old. We also went to an audioligist for an audiology test and he told us he was too young for it so he gave him a standard test and came up with nothing, no hearing loss, no blockage no nothing… I should be happy (I am) but now more confused on why he doesnt speak… And to top it off my medical insurance does not cover speech therapy unless its loss of speech due to accidental or surgey related. So My older son (8years) and I went to the library to find books, videos, something that wil help us learn to communicate in some level with Aaron and we came across your Signing Time videos. We checked them out and Aaron absolutly loves them!!! Thank you for all your hard work on. Now everytime he learns a sign he tries to say the word to go with it… It brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart melt. Now with school coming up fast (with this program they help place the kids in main stream school at age 3) it scares me that he will not be helped or taught more of ASL and will be left behind as so many kids are. But again thank you so much for all your great help and now because of you, your family and your videos (and our social worker in EI) We are able to comunicate with our Aaron.

    [Reply]

  131. Kristine Says:

    Rachel…I have been an OT, occupational therapist for the past 22 yrs. 8 of those years was spent working with infants and toddlers in a variety of settings. I purchased the Signing Times videos at an early start symposium years ago, while working for United Cerebral Palsy. I absolutely love the videos! Thank you for producing them. Not only did I use them while doing treatments with the children I serviced in EI, but also with my nephew Mateo (who began signing at 10 mos.) and also with my foster daughter, Shay, who started also at 10 mos. It is amazing how the signing has reduced tantrums.

    I wanted to bring up a suggestion for some of the parents who have kids with speech delays. I worked for a year in a sensory integration clinic and cannot stress enough the importance of SI therapy for kids with speech delays, whatever the source of the delays may be. Because many of our schools and parks have gotten rid of swings, due to the danger associated with them, it is has made an impact on kids in our schools with regards to speech, attention span, and learning abilities. I was amazed to see how a very non verbal and minimal speaking child would come to life once SI therapy was started. I had a 3 yr. old little boy I was working with, who was only saying about 20 words when I first began SI therapy with him. After 1 month, he began to speak in 2 and 3 word sentences, all because we put him on a swing and increased his awareness with vestibular stimulation (the sense of where his body is at in space).

    I agree that the infant-toddler teachers and the Speech Path’s should be counting sign language as communication , even if it is the only language when assessing their levels. Being an OT, I never had to report on this, but my best friend is an infant-toddler teacher and an audiometrist, and I will be sure to ask her why this is being done and get back to you ASAP with some answers.

    I pray everyone is doing well. Blessings…

    Kristine

    [Reply]

  132. RaeAnne Says:

    I just found this post! I have been very, very interested in how you have gone about education Leah. I thought the same thing you did when I heard about the average deaf child’s level of literacy. I sincerely hope you can explain what you have done some time. My family has considered adopting a child who is deaf, and I would love to benefit from your experience. I take education very seriously, to the point that I have chosen to homeschool my kids to ensure they receive the education they deserve. You are truly a kindred spirit, even though your path is different than mine!

    [Reply]

  133. Colleen Says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m one of the ST Academy instructors. I just wanted to say hello and tell you that this post in particular really struck a cord with me.

    I teach an online course for college students which centers around exceptional children. I will be sharing your blog, and this post especially, with them. We talk a lot about the incredible power and necessity of a family-centered approach and your words put it so much better than I or any textbook has accomplished.

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

  134. Lisa C Says:

    Rachel, I just found your blog through a link to this post. I am just stunned over the educational system for deaf children. I’ve been stunned over the broken systems in place for children with other disabilities as well. It’s alarming how educators will just write children off because they have a disability. I really admire you and people like you who are willing to go the distance and make a difference.

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Lisa, I have been surprised how often our school district has said the best placement for a child with a disability is their home school, (local elementary etc.) I just don’t think most teachers are prepared to to manage, educate and support our special needs kids, not when they are also trying to teach 26-36 additional children in that classroom. I don’t have the answer, but I am hoping that this post gets people thinking about it and maybe someone will come up with something new AND effective.

    [Reply]

  135. CD Says:

    I’m a little late reading this post. But I wanted to say “Thank you” for the encouragement.

    [Reply]

  136. Stephanie Russell Says:

    Rachel,
    I’m an ASL interpreter. My husband’s profoundly deaf. He’s been signing just a few years longer than I have. Together, we’ve made two Signing Time fans, who are 8 and 3. Both are fluent hearing signers. My husband could’ve been among those with the 3rd grade education. He’s not, but he has mostly himself to thank for that – he’s mostly self-taught. Long story short, he was raised in an oral environment with great “linguistic” support from mom, no sign, but tons of books – his escape.

    As an interpreter, I see just how the schools have and continue to fail on a daily basis. I see the lowest skilled interpreters hired in the schools instead of those of us with top certifications, teachers of the deaf who can’t sign worth a damn, and districts putting their own twists on “least restrictive environment” and IT ANGERS ME! I see so many intelligent deaf/hard of hearing people at work every day who are failed by this broken system. I’ve seen first-time college kids who’ve graduated state schools for the deaf and can’t read the word “anniversary”. I’ve seen people raised in oral environments and mainstreamed in the public schools, and without parents getting involved, making waves, and learning ASL (a real problem among hearing parents of deaf children), kids fail.
    I want to applaud families like yours, Rachel, for having the balls (as you said) to buck the system and do better for your daughter than the status quo for the average American deaf kid. She deserves better, and that seems to be exactly what you’ve given her. \Im/

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Stephanie, thanks for sharing your “insiders” point of view. I agree too many hearing parents of deaf kids get stuck being afraid that their child might never learn to talk.. what they really should be concerned about is that their child might never have critical thinking skills. American Sign Language is the key in my opinion. A rich visual language environment!

    [Reply]

  137. Bridget Di Luzio Says:

    Ok, so I am just getting to this post. A little behind on my part, yeah, but so happy to have read this. IEPs are definitely daunting at times, unless you have the right team, in my opinion. For Sophia, it was frustrating for me to be told she wasn’t “deaf enough” to continue at her local school for the deaf, but even more frustrating to be told that the only school she could attend was the same one that was so horrendous for one of my daughters, that I opted to home school the next one to avoid that school. Sophia would have a teacher that was going to have to compete with the constant noise due to open walls, connected classrooms and open doors. I envisioned this little pre-schooler coming home so exhausted and frustrated everyday that it would culminate in the breaking apart and scattering to the winds of hearing aids; something she did each and every time she became overwhelmed by the hearing world. At the same time, my world was crumbling, so I sent a message to the elementary school principal for the deaf school of my home state. She said Sophia would be welcomed with open arms, no questions asked. And so I moved back to my home state. I get asked a lot by parents and teachers how I managed to raise a perfectly bilingual daughter.

    Rachel, i totally understand the feeling of frustration from those administrators who just don’t get it. And I commend you and Aaron on everything that you have done. It’s never easy to be the “boat rocker,” but it can be so worth it when the cause is great. So, from one boat rocker to another, a big virtual hug and a huge thank you for being the amazing woman and mom that you are and not accepting what others told you had to be.

    P.S. Happy belated Birthday too.

    [Reply]

  138. Ally Rourke Says:

    I am a mom and a nanny. I have been signing with babies and toddlers for about seven years now with great results in terms of early bonding and success with language acquisition and cognitive function. The next baby I am going to take care of is expected to be born in late January 2011. His parents know from ultrasounds that he has one typical hand and one hand with just one finger. I plan to sign and talk with him just as I have every other baby I have helped raise over the last seven years, regardless of wither he is hearing or deaf. I assume that he will have his own version of signs that takes into account his unique body. Do you know other kids with limb differences who sign? My instinct is to sign to him anyway, and see how he adapts to communicate back to me. One of my friends who is Deaf was horrified at the sad idea of a baby born without two functioning hands, but I don’t plan on feeling sorry for Baby L. I plan on treating him with love and respect and high expectations just like the rest of my brood. Maybe his ASL will be more fluent than mine. I look forward to finding out.

    [Reply]

  139. Esther Olschewski Says:

    I wanted to have you read something my profoundly deaf cousin wrote. She is articulate and beautiful. Her name is Jessica Barlow. She on facebook and it is in her “notes” section. You can send a friend request and let her know that I suggested you look her up.

    It’s a great read, and might be helpful to hear from an articulate, informed, deaf young woman.

    [Reply]

  140. Dr. Freeman King Says:

    Dear Rachel,

    I am the director of Deaf Education at Utah State University, and I want to personally thank you for the excellent article regarding raising and educating a deaf child.

    Far too long American education of the deaf has been sacrificing deaf children to the gods of educational and legislative ignorance! Far too long, we have been playing to the deaf child’s weakness (lack of hearing), instead of their strength (vision). Far too long, we have been giving the deaf child an inappropriate education in the most restrictive environment! It is past time that parents, educators, and administrators DEMANDED that deaf children be provided a fully accessible language (ASL) that will expand the child’s world to be on a par academically, socially, emotionally, and linguistically with their hearing peers.

    Far too long deaf children have been denied the development of an identity because of not having a deep and meaningful language with which their world can be accessed. Far too long, deaf children have been forced to become clones of hearing children, instead of being allowed and encouraged to become Deaf.

    In our teacher training program here at Utah State University, we are attempting to turn out a new breed of teachers of deaf children: a teacher who recognizes the need for a fully accessible language; a teacher who is willing to fight to assure that the deaf child’s education is both appropriate and least restrictive; a teacher who sees the importance of Deaf role models; a teacher who understands that the deaf child must have a peer group with whom they can communicate deeply and
    comfortably; a teacher who is skilled in the language (ASL), as well as excellent pedagogical techniques that assist in connecting the visual language with the written form of English; and a teacher who promotes the traditions and values of the Deaf community.

    Kudos to you! Keep up the excellent work.

    J. Freeman King, Ed.D.
    Director, Deaf Education
    Utah State University

    [Reply]

  141. Heather Kelsey Says:

    My daughter brought you’re blog to my attention as I had notice she had commented on it. My daughter is a beautiful, intelligent, amazing 18 yr old high school graduate, college bound girl… who happens to be deaf. I too encountered the exact same senarios with USDB and PIP here in Utah.
    Coincidently I just took the LMF with your sister and one of my close friends happens to know you and I’m just in awe of everything you’ve done to make the world a better place for these amazing kids. You’re entire family amazes me. You are truly blessed to have such amazing children as I am blessed to have mine, I wouldn’t trade her or our experiences for anything.
    This post was so moving as I felt so alone going through it all 17 years ago… I remember trying to get her to turn her head when I said her name, and crying when I realized she’d never heard a song I had played for her.
    But those all seem so insignificant as I look at her all grown up… and knowing that we did it. She was herself the entire time and I let her be that. I never stopped believing in her and didn’t listen to what the world said.
    I admire you and you’re ambition, you’ve really made such a difference in the deaf community, there isn’t anywhere you go that you don’t hear about signing times.
    Congrats on your success but more so on being such a good mom!

    [Reply]

  142. Bronwyn O'Hara Says:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    Nov 2010–I’ve read Rachel Coleman’s current blog about how she was told that her deaf toddler would graduate from high school with only a third-grade reading level; that her daughter would not have much of a vocabulary and would probably not attend college. I connected with her experience because 25 years ago that was told to me by the USD program director, Steve Noyce.

    Parents then were more intimidated by the professionals. There was no way to challenge or check if they were right. For the most part parents accepted the conditions the school presented and said “Do what you can for our kids. It’s better than nothing.”

    Our family had gone through the PIP program when we moved to Utah when Ellen was two. There were no PIP advisers who could sign. Every one of them were trained in the Oral modality. However, I insisted that Ellen start with sign because I also had gone to the Deaf community and believed what they told me about what my deaf child needed. Our PIP advisor was hesitant about my decision to begin with signing but she could see I meant business and wasn’t going to be persuaded otherwise. I’m not tooting my own horn here but many, many parents could not make these decisions, could not stand up to the oral-professionals’ pressures, and did not consult with the deaf to know what their child needed. They knew nothing and were taught nothing about their deaf child by USD. Instead they believed the hearing USD professionals who told them that if they started early with listening and speech training, their child could and would learn to hear and speak.

    Steve Noyce was my daughter’s program director from the day she started pre-school at age three. When I was told Ellen would probably not read better than a third-grader when she was 18, I told Steve I wanted Ellen, not only to be able to read at grade-level, I also wanted her to learn to think. I wanted her to be able to argue with me and discuss her thoughts and make plans for her future. I told him I expected him to provide a program where she could learn to do all that. Like Rachel Coleman, we were told they would not create a program for just one child.

    During the eight years we dealt with USD, I sent Steve Noyce study after study and academic paper after academic paper to show him the recorded benefit of ASL for every deaf child, not just mine. Not only did ASL provide internal language, but it also helped those children who wanted to vocalize be able to speak better. This is true as I’ve seen Ellen pronounce a word correctly after she’s seen the sign for it. I don’t know if any of the academic information I sent truly sank in for Steve, but I couldn’t wait for him to become convinced. Ellen needed the language input and SHE couldn’t wait. We sent her to the California School for the Deaf–Fremont for her second and third grade years. Ellen looks back now and says that that was a turning point for her. In that ASL-language-rich environment, she realized she COULD achieve and that she was NOT stupid.

    We returned her to USD for her fourth grade year. She had advanced so much in those two years that the deaf classroom with deaf peers was no longer appropriate for her. (Imagine that ! She’d out-distanced her deaf peers in two years in an ASL environment). However, USD had not appreciably changed in providing for non-remedial deaf students in their classrooms. Their placement option for her was to mainstream her with an interpreter. Interpreter standards had not been established in Utah at the time and her interpreter was lousy. I could see a new battle-ground looming up so we moved to the Indiana School for the Deaf to complete the rest of her years of education. The Indiana Deaf School has a Bilingual-Bicultural philosophy throughout their pre-school-to-12th grades. Bilingual includes ASL as the language of instruction with the learning of English as a second-language and the Bicultural teaches deaf and hearing cultural nuances so deaf can understand themselves and their hearing counterparts. It makes for greater sociability for them at home with hearing family members and in the larger hearing world.

    Parents are smarter now and more resourceful and more vocal. The USD and USOE need to listen, not only to parents and students, but also to the Deaf community and professionals who have in-depth insights and advice. Stop wasting the brains of these deaf children in the USD school system. Our children are a natural non-renewable resource and should be carefully grown and nurtured. It’s a crime to continue using an out-dated system of educating the deaf that has a proven high-failure rate.

    Sincerely,
    Bronwyn O’Hara
    parent of 2 deaf and 1 hard-of-hearing children

    [Reply]

  143. SLP Says:

    It makes me really sad to hear of all of these horrible experiences these families and more importantly these children have had with the deaf education system. I am a certified SLP who is fluent in ASL. My husband is Deaf and we are very active in the Deaf community. I am shocked that these therapists do not count sign as true words and part of their language. I work for a local school district and I use sign language with my language and artic preschool kids who don’t have a hearing loss and it really helps expand their language. I also have a private practice and work primarily with deaf adults who really would like to be able to speak but have never been able to find a therapist that could meet their language needs. One of the main reasons they choose me as their therapist is because I am fluent in ASL and can teach them how to speak in their native language.

    I know of some of these people whose names and have been mentioned and like you said, they really don’t understand because they haven’t lived it. I am so happy to hear that you looked for educated deaf adults as your guide as to what works and what doesn’t. My husband (who signs and is not oral) graduated with his degree in English Education. When I ask him why he is able to understand English so well compared with other deaf adults, he credits being in a family who used sign (although a lot of it was SEE and home sign) and sadly being mainstreamed starting in Jr High. The system can and needs to change in order to provide that “Individualized” program that every child with a “disability” deserves.

    [Reply]

  144. Charity Says:

    Rachel, thank you for making this blog post. I am a student at Brigham Young University, and I am Deaf. I’m in the process of writing a thesis on these exact issues. May I quote you from this post in my paper?

    Charity Harding

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Yes you may

    [Reply]

  145. Doreathea Says:

    Miss Rachel
    Hi, My name is Dee and I discovered your music while I was watching Nick Jr with my 5 year old.. I fell in love with Leah’s farm and Fast and slow and decided to look you up and after reading your web page and I just had to speak. God gave you three wonderful daughters because He trusted you and your husband. He knew that you had it in you to fight for them and their well being. My kids didn’t have the struggle that yours did but I had to fight to make sure they weren’t labeled, treated differently or made to feel that they couldn’t learn simply because of a disability however we live in a society that says if you aren’t considered “mainstream” your needs don’t count! I have three children, a daughter almost 20, a son 17 and my baby son who is 5. I am sure I seemed to be a difficult mother in those IEP meetings for my oldest and now my youngest but I don’t believe in limiting a child just because they have difficulties.. I also don’t like labels. All children are worthy of love and respect especially from teachers and administrators that we as parents trust them with and if they can’t see their worth then they are in the wrong profession. So I am simply trying to encourage you to stand up for your babies and don’t let so- called experts act like they know your children better than you do. You are their best advocate and if you won’t stand up for them then who will? All children are welcome by God and by those of us who love them. It takes different flowers to make a garden.
    Be blessed and keep on keeping on!

    [Reply]

  146. Lilly Says:

    What a great write up! Thank you. Fortunately our area has a wonerful HI program but I can still relate. Parents have to be completely involved, hearing or not. Our daughter was main streamer at 4th grade and is doing great but getting to that point was a lot of work for her and us. More people need to bring attention to their schools if they aren’t giving the HI kids the correct tools to succeed!

    [Reply]

  147. Brian Says:

    Great blog! I totally agree, as a profoundly deaf individual.

    My parents were lucky enough to learn from specific individuals that I was to learn sign language right from the get-go, from birth. They initially knew nothing about what to do when they found I was deaf as a baby. They also implemented a heavy emphasis on reading and writing, and I benefited enormously from that, and I am forever grateful for that.

    Throughout my K-12 years, I was in a S.E.E. (Signed Exact English) system. I remember realizing that there was a gap in English comprehension between myself and my classmates – in 3rd grade. I watched as all of my friends’ English levels retreated and the gap grew larger, and their comprehension were dismally poor by when we all graduated high school together. All the teachers were criminally lenient with them.

    In my undergraduate years, I became roommate with one of those classmates who I had grown up with (he was one grade under mine). He was in the engineering program at our renowned institute, and I saw that he had 3rd-grade English comprehension. He was a smart guy – his math prowess was great. I worked with him and helped him gain skills focused on improving his English – and he improved! A few years later, he graduated from that institute with much better English comprehension, and then he got a free, everything-covered scholarship at an even more renowned school. He’s now pursuing a Masters in Nanotechnology. Now, if he stayed at 3rd-grade level English level, where would he be today?

    I think using English-based sign language as a basis for instruction in school is a crime. It is not natural, and puts a burden on deaf people’s minds that they do not need. It throws them off track and demolishes their English ability along the way.

    I think using ASL is the best thing, along with a heavy focus on written English. I’m training right now to become a Teacher for the Deaf, and I can see that our deaf education system is improving – incrementally.

    Thank you for this blog.

    [Reply]

  148. Criminal Background Screening Says:

    Rachel,
    I work in an office that conducts Criminal Background Screening and I have a deaf sister. When she was born they said she would never hear or learn anything. My mother stayed home to work with her everyday, now she is teaching other deaf children sign language and mentors them in school.

    [Reply]

  149. Anonymous Says:

    Rachel,

    I am a profoundly deaf person who currently holds an important position with a large corporation. I make a good living and live as an independent adult who pays taxes and votes. When I graduated high school and college, my reading level was on par with my hearing peers. I am not a smart person by any means, but I am definitely equal to my hearing peers. I do not even speak at all that well and even with hearing aids I have absolutely no speech recognition. I can lip read somewhat, but I do not use that ability to communicate.

    I got to where I am because of my hearing parents who felt that I should be signing. My parents had visited numerous of programs, but they fortunately were drawn to a program where children signed. However, that school did not offer an infant program until my parents somehow convinced them to start one up. I learned my first sign just before I turned one. My whole hearing family learned to sign. Some better than others, but I grew up in a house where I could sign to anyone that I lived with. I am forever thankful for my upbringing.

    I was periodically placed in mainstreamed classes with sign language interpreters when my school was unable to offer education equal to my hearing peers. While it is not an ideal option, it can still be beneficial and worthy of consideration. The only downside is the social life aspect of it.

    Nonetheless, it is my opinion that the single most important factor in the education of a deaf child is parental involvement. Rachel, you are way ahead of the curve right now and as a deaf person I applaud you and wish your daughter the best of luck.

    -Anon

    [Reply]

  150. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I am a teacher of deaf children and I am deaf myself. My husband and I are both deaf and are both professionals in the Deaf community. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your experience. I have to tell you that parenting is SO IMPORTANT. I work unbelievable hours trying to compensate for what my students do not have at home. It breaks my heart. No matter how hard I work and how many different methods of instruction I use, if the children do not have language in the home and do not have family who actively involve themselves in their child’s education, nor learn to sign fluently with their children, I truly am limited greatly at what I can do. I have had students who had parents like you and the difference is like night and day. I applaud your dedication. Thank you.

    A dedicated but weary teacher in the midwest

    [Reply]

  151. Tim Dans Says:

    Love your blog on this issue! Ironically, my wife and I are hard of hearing and deaf with two hearing girls. I even get the word that my eldest daughter that she should stop signing while in the school. I said NO! Let her be… She’s billingual and developing into a good student with a knowledge of two worlds. I am behind ya all the way!

    Tim

    [Reply]

  152. RN4DEAF Says:

    Wow, we had such a similar experience with our deaf son in the mid 80s in northern Wisconsin. Such incredibly low expectations for our very visual, bright young son. And such few options available and very few deaf adult role models :-( . Luckily after attending a national conference on “Unlocking the Curriculum” we came to the same conclusion that you did and uprooted our family and moved to Indiana for our son to attend the Indiana School for the Deaf. Best decision we made, he is now a successful young adult you has his masters and is currently working at the Smithsonian American History museum in a professional role. Sure wish we could spread the word to more hearing parents of deaf children! I know I will be quoting your story as well when I am asked how to raise a successful deaf child! Thanks for sharing your story!

    [Reply]

  153. broken education | What's that you said? Says:

    [...] article is just jaw-dropping: I’m Sorry, Your Child Is Stupid Our experience raising Leah is not typical, not typical at all. I dare say, we have successfully [...]

  154. Cheri D Says:

    I am sorry I did not find your blog earlier. I teach in an Interpreter Preparation Program and many students this year have mentioned wanting to become teachers of the deaf. I hope you don’t mind if I make your article required reading for them. I always tell them how many parents are faced with the difficult educational methods and decisions, only to be told later they “failed” if their child did not flourish and/or learn to speak. How sad that no one has fixed the broken system in 100 years!!

    [Reply]

  155. Kim Says:

    Rachel,
    I’m a hearing, lifelong ASL lover who is a huge fan of your Signing Time series (my kids are huge fans, too!). I just stumbled across your blog today after my curiosity was piqued because of your FB post about having a long lost daughter! I am an adoptee, and I can tell you that there is no greater gift than having a birthmother who is selfless and courageous enough to sacrifice her own needs for her child. For you to be able to do that so young is incredible!
    I am in tears reading through your posts here on your blog. Happy, sad, and triumphant tears! You are so inspirational! Every woman should know she has the power to be as strong and resourceful as you have proven yourself to be.
    Thank you for sharing your story with the world. I wish you all the best in everything you do. Thank you so very much. <3

    [Reply]

  156. Amy Says:

    Rachel,
    One of my twins has Down syndrome. He just turned two and already uses 11 signs! One of them he learned from his brother, who knows over 50 thanks to your videos! We have the same problem in Tennessee with ASL instruction. The public preschool teacher won’t allow signs. She makes kiddies hand her picture cards. I’m not going to carry stacks of pictures around with me just so my child can communicate with me at the grocery store!
    One of my friend’s daughter was under this woman’s tutelage as a speech therapist. The little girl signed a three word sentence (More cracker please)and the teacher refused to give her a cracker until she handed her the picture with the cracker on it. My friend was in the observation room and barged in on the session, demanding her three-year-old child be rewarded for her efforts.
    From what I have read and now experienced, children who sign have a 30% higher vocabulary than children who don’t. I believe it! My typical child shocks us everyday with the new words he signs and speaks!
    Whenever I catch myself whining about all the therapies and all the things in my life that have to change because of Down syndrome, I just remember your blog about being strong enough, and I pray for the courage and strength to believe that I am strong enough to be his mom!
    Thanks so much!

    [Reply]

  157. Kathy Dickey Says:

    Hi Rachel, Your family has been a part of ours since my son, then 5 mos. old, got his first hearing aids. We have all your DVDS! This is my first visit to your blog(where have I been?!) and I found it through a Deaf advocacy website. My son also has Down syndrome so his situation is extra compicated. We found out at his IEP yesterday that they feel he doesn’t belong in the SDC for DHH (where they use Total Communication) anymore because he needs to be in a Functional Skills class (I hate that term) where there is an aide who has only had 3 semesters of ASL. We tried to impress upon them that since David’s speech is so severely delayed we want to be sure he has a language. ASL is his first language and as his 9 year old sister says, “Sign language is how he lives his life!” After reading your entry, I am inspired to find out how we can create the best educational setting for our son and not settle for what the broken system has to offer. Just because David has Ds, that shouldn’t exclude him from receiving the services that his DHH peers are entitled to!!!

    [Reply]

  158. bonnie Says:

    I’m not sure where the best place is to leave this for you and Leah to check out… but I came across this Party in the USA video tonight and instantly thought of Leah. :) I la,la,love reading your story and blog. Thanks for being so open and sharing your testimony. It’s so inspiring to see you truly living out your faith and making the most of your life! God has blessed you and your girls so much!

    enjoy the ASL version of Party in the USA!

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmKnQjBf8wM&feature=player_embedded

    Love from Texas! ~bonnie

    [Reply]

  159. Jessie Says:

    I am an example as a Deaf role model. You can do anything you want to do in life. But it all bases on the education you get for your child. I agree any child could learn from ASL. It depends on who teaching it and how. There’s teachers out there that are signing some English within the ASL, which is totally wrong. Stick to the game plan and she will rise to what ever she wants to be in this world!

    [Reply]

  160. Karen Says:

    This post moved me to tears. It should have come with a warning to go get the kleenex!

    I was a “professional” (interpreter/SKI-HI/infant signing instructor) that happened to have progressive hearing loss before I became the mother of a child born with hearing loss and a cleft lip/palate. Later, two more of my girls developed hearing loss as they got older. My second grader just got her FM and hearing aids.

    One of my favorite “Signing Time” moments was when you sang and signed “Happy Birthday” to my littlest one as the last in line at a meet and greet in Muncie, IN. What a great first birthday for her!

    Anyway, now that she is 5, we are currently walking in your shoes and I have taken on advocacy as more of my focus. Things aren’t great here especially with the bilingual/bicultural method coming under fire even at the Indiana School for the Deaf. Insert shameless plug here for anything you can do to help out would be much appreciated with the Deaf School. ;)

    We will continue to buck the system because, as you say, it IS broken and what passes as acceptable certainly is NOT.

    I love the inspiration you bring with your honesty and spunky attitude. It helps to know I’m not the only one who has fought the good fight only to go home and cry in my pillow about why it is soooo stinking difficult to get professional educators to understand what we KNOW is the right path for our kids.

    Anyway…all this to say thanks for this post! Every time I need to recharge that battery…I’m rereading this!

    Karen :) (NICEinterpreter)

    [Reply]

  161. Rachell Laucevicius Says:

    Sorry if I sound much like the last post, but I am also close to tears reading this. And, also want to include a shameless plug for the Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD). I have frequently asked the EXACT same things that I read in your blog and am disheartened that with so much support, the media ignores our requests, yet shows coverage on a deaf child receiving cochlear implants as some miracle instead of embracing the 3 year old with well above average language acquisition because that language is signed. I am tired of being told that my deaf son will be different and not assimilated into society because he is different. I am just tired! Any insight on how you do it and resources you have used would be so appreciated.

    [Reply]

  162. Alicia Says:

    A deaf friend of mine forwarded your blog to me. I am a Pre-K educator and I work with students with developmental delays and English language learners but I have not yet had the opportunity to have a deaf student in my classroom. Kudos to you and your husband for not taking “no” for an answer. I grew up in school with deaf students mainstreamed in classes with typical peers. One of our classes as speaking students was ASL. I can STILL remember being in that classroom, practicing signs, conversations and presentations of the songs we learned, “Kokomo- by the beach boys” :-) . Oh, how found my memories are of having that experience enrich my life! I don’t understand why the school district is not treating ASL as a language. It is another language! It’s so simple it’s STUPID to interpret it any other way!

    [Reply]

  163. Elisa Says:

    I have had this exact conversation so many times with people. My son will be 5 next week and he is Deaf, he is in an all ASL school, but we are stuck in Utah and the system here could not be more horrific for parents of Deaf kids. I get so annoyed when people say to me “oh he is Deaf, can he read my lips” “No” I say “he has never heard English, he is Deaf, first he has to learn ASL, then written English, then maybe he will learn some lip reading” People are always so surprised at first then they think about it, then they get it. I am frustrated to tears with the broken system here. We know we are going to have to move so we can give Ira everything he needs. What do you think? What state would you say has the best program?

    [Reply]

  164. Josh Says:

    A friend of mine shared this link on facebook and I am really glad I clicked on that link and read the whole thing. Your story was very engaging and it touched me in so many way.

    I am profoundly deaf and have hearing parentswith whom I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to communicate through ASL. They didn’t know any ASL at the beginning either.

    I have to credit them for not putting any limit on me and keep instilling the idea that I can do “anything” that I ever want to do with my life. I am proud to say that I have graduated with bachelor degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and am now working in the technical support department for the big corporation.

    I know plenty of my deaf friends who are as successful with their lives. I know two friends who started non-profit organizations, with one responsible for finding more deaf people around the world and another for setting up a deaf network around the world. I also know two deaf friends who work for Google and they both love it there. I know one deaf friend working for Intel. Another at Yahoo. And plenty of them working for federal agencies. There’s really no limit to what we can do and accomplish.

    A hearing parent with attitude like yours, there is no doubt that Leah can and will accomplish many things in her life as well. It is because you refuse to put any limit on her. I commend you for that.

    [Reply]

  165. Josh Says:

    ““I’m sorry, your child is black. They will graduate from high school with a third grade reading level.””

    Bad logic much? There is nothing *unhealthy* about skin color.

    [Reply]

    Renee Reply:

    Josh,

    You’re missing Rachel’s point! I believe what she meant was you can pick any “difference” single out any characteristic and people would be outraged….but because this is the state of things for deaf children, it is merely accepted as okay and “normal” even!

    Also, who ever said there’s anything “unhealthy” about being deaf?

    Bad logic much?

    [Reply]

    TheOtherJosh Reply:

    Renee, I agree with you. Apparently there are two Joshs here. The first one is mine, but I don’t know the 2nd one because that one is not mine. Apparently someone else logged in with the same name. Just FYI.

    [Reply]

    Renee Reply:

    Thanks, TheOtherJosh, for clearing that up! So many people with the same names, it gets confusing!

    Beth Reply:

    Her point was that it is wrong to say that about any one with any thing that is different about them,not that some one is black. And being deaf is a disability, not a disease. So shove off.

    [Reply]

    Cory in Texas Reply:

    There’s nothing unhealthy about being Deaf or Hard of Hearing either, Bubba.

    Equating a language difference with the word “unhealthy” is just as preposterous as me saying my relatives from Canada who only speak French are unhealthy.

    Are they at a loss sometimes when visiting me in Texas? Sure. Then they consult a French-English dictionary and they’re just fine.

    As fine as I am when sometimes I have to resort to using pen and paper in a restaurant where nobody signs.

    [Reply]

    Cory in Texas Reply:

    …and to add to that. It wasn’t long ago where people would have commonly said and believed the expression (pre-civil rights era) “Your child is Black and will graduate with a third grade reading level.”

    But we evolved as a society.

    [Reply]

  166. Beth Says:

    After reading this blog, a link from another blog, (a favourite) I will say I find your story fascinating and motivating, and of course very very amazing. God has blessed you and your family with a wonderful opportunity and the rare but needed passion to beat the system and fix what is wrong, at least within yourself and your household. I am truly at a loss for words to describe how amazing your story is. Thank you for blogging your amazing experience, it is hope for all the mothers out there, beating the wrong of the system for their children.

    [Reply]

  167. Toni Says:

    I’m glad I’ve came across “Signing Time” and this blog. My son has a moderate to severe hearing loss in both ears, but it wasn’t until June 2012 that his father and I found out for sure. I blame myself for getting help so late because he didn’t past his hearing screening at birth, but I too thought this was something that he will out grow. No one else is our family is deaf or hard of hearing. Now, since working with Early intervention and his early placement in pre-school he is using ASL and his voice. However, I’m a parent that is fed up with depending on the Public School system and listening to their negative comments about my son’s education development. I was just recently told by a special education representative that my son wouldn’t catch up to his hearing peers until he was in high school. I’m just glad that he has parents who are fighting for a completely different outcome, but hearing news like this makes you feel hopeless. Other parents are fighting to try to get extended day summer program for our deaf and hard of hearing children because we fear that over the summer break their language will regress. But, the system is trying tell us that our children don’t need it because they will always be behind. I’m a stressed out, but determine mom who will never give up on her child. Have any other parents had this problem and if so, how was it resolved?

    [Reply]

    Rachel Coleman Reply:

    Toni, in my experience many districts and professionals will tell you what to expect… and what they tell you is exactly what THEY deliver. You are right to question this information. We too fought for a different outcome, and we got a different outcome. You are doing the right thing. Trust your instincts. There is no reason to fear ASL or signing. You are on the right track:)

    [Reply]

    Toni Mitchell Reply:

    Thanks Rachel for the positive feedback, it’s very much appreciated. I’m going to continue to fight for my son’s education.

    [Reply]

  168. Ruskin Lewis Says:

    watch the newet movie scarymovie5 here:

    [Reply]

  169. Gina Says:

    Toni

    Good for you! We see so many districts doing this over and over. It just makes my blood boil, we have a moderate to severe who we chose to sign with and also were told not to sign too. She is now accepted into G/T program for our school and 3 counties! Don’t ever let anyone tell you your child won’t catch up! Delaney was a year delayed and now is passed her hearing peers! The children who are most success our the families who speak up!! If the school district believes they can’t catch up then the school district may have to re work their program. You should am expect a year growth for a year. Having a good teacher of the deaf can do great things for the school and the kids! Good luck:)

    [Reply]

    Toni Mitchell Reply:

    Gina

    I’m not happy, but I’m relieved to know that other parents of hearing impaired children are experiencing the same problems. I never realized how inconsiderated the public school system could be; however, I’m very thankful that my son has a great teacher who is very dedicated to her students hearing and speech development. I will never accept someone telling me that my son is incapable of doing anything. Anything is possible!! I’m learning, as a parent of a hearing impaired child, that I’m my child’s voice until he’s able to use his own.

    [Reply]

  170. Sell My Structured Settlement Says:

    What happens is this…we are determined and some agenjts may
    “perform” off that frustration. Who will offer you the best handle income for Structured Settlement payments?

    Again, just like any contracts mke sure to reead and understand thhe terms of the arrangement you’re producing.
    The claimant agrees to the transaction plan.

    [Reply]

  171. http://www.yelp.com/ Says:

    You ought to ask the plumber before hiring on
    your plumbing work whether he’s licensed or not. Most plumbers used this devioce for pipe clutching and pipe fitting.

    [Reply]

  172. parking garages tribeca Says:

    Getting the office over your garage with keep home office completely
    away from reduce. You didn’t really expect that huge escalator
    to protect you, perfectly? Many people are conscious about where they park their
    vehicles.

    [Reply]

  173. Garcinia Cambogia Says:

    Well, that is a proven way to ensure your eating less than
    your daily calorie need. It’s not really a important drop, but I’ll take it likewise.
    There’s just no evidence to back up anyy of these claims, at this time.

    [Reply]

  174. medical professions lifestyle Says:

    Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you
    know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think
    its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both
    show the same outcome.

    [Reply]

  175. sellmystructuredsettlementreviews.com Says:

    It ccan produce a masasive difference to your important thing to get perfect quotation!
    By the end of May, Gerjan publlic debt is considered a totaql of 1.89 billion.

    [Reply]

  176. https://www.facebook.com/MoldInspectionandTesting Says:

    Afrer all, soon after the mold is situated it can be gotten rid of.
    Your eyes are your greatest asset whn you take a look at usd pop-up campers on the market.
    In reality, some of these presented can encompass to form washing.

    [Reply]

  177. houzz.com Says:

    Consequently yoou will need to lay stress on those bodyparts.
    The usage of art is the tendency of modeern house designs.
    Home inspector provides close look with a professionally trained
    eye.

    [Reply]

  178. houzz Says:

    She shares ideas substantial information, guidance and in her homke based Group and Website.
    Within Georgia, real estate agents are needed by their brokers
    to offer out 3 brands of personnel.

    [Reply]

  179. quora Says:

    It is nott as straightforward because so many people assume, though.
    It does noot matter since you will undoubtedly be obtaining a worldwide insurance.
    For pre-owned homes, check costs off another up-for-sale homes in your community.

    [Reply]

  180. Home Inspection Kansas City Says:

    Besides, handsson knowledge is essential since the expectations of customers are receiving higher and
    higher. The idea never really occurred if you ask me.
    The sheepskins arre another unique decor in your home accessories.

    [Reply]

  181. Home Inspection Pittsburgh Says:

    What is written is more important than any one of states they claim you receive from your agent or owner.
    Several parents, like me, frequently find achievement byy turning on an educational system or an educational DVD.

    [Reply]

  182. http://linkedin.com Says:

    The papers you fill out in order too be processed by multiple government agencies.
    Due to this, some businesses find it difficult to ope with in addition.

    [Reply]

  183. http://dailymail.co.uk Says:

    Also, take into consideration the users that thee garage ill
    bbe going to pput directly into. Since garages
    are only outside the houses, it is essential to grow their beauty.
    The one hing he misses most getting his own plane.

    [Reply]

  184. newarkpostonline Says:

    Be aware thgat in the long-term, quick diets constantly destined to failure.
    It can bee to loose weigght quickly and a balanced diet.
    This is an absurd demand for anyone iin order to create.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Athleta - By Women Athletes - For Women Athletes