Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Deaf Mentor

We've struggled with our local Deaf Mentor program over the years. The program is supposed to provide and instructor that comes to the homes of families with children that have hearing losses on a weekly basis to teach American Sign Language and deaf culture. It's a great program but the number of mentors hasn't been enough to keep up with the demand in our
community. Our family has gone without a mentor for over a year after the last one quit.

So it was a shock last month when the director of the program dropped by to apologize for not getting us a new mentor sooner and introduced us to Brett. Brett is a very nice man who is deaf and also has cerebral palsy. Both were caused by illness as a child. He arranged to begin lessons with our family every Saturday morning.

He's been coming the last few weeks and he's already making a difference in our home. He's looking for ways that he can motivate Whitney to sign more clearly and in more structured sentences. And he's working hard with Melanie and me too.

The very first week Brett came, he threw down the gauntlet with me. "You need to know the manual alphabet by next week," he told me. I've struggled with the alphabet since I'm quite poor at memorizing things. So I was pretty nervous about the challenge.

As it turns out a little push was exactly what I needed. I worked all week and was able to run through all the signs the next Saturday with only a couple mistakes. I still mix up d and f but I'm getting better each day.

It's a big help to have someone who cares so much about our family and works so hard to teach us.

So, Brett, welcome to "team Whitney" and thank you for helping us along the path to better understanding and communication. We hope to work with you for a long time to come.


Debbie said...

What a neat program. I wish we had something like that here in OK. Could you please keep us posted on any techniques you guys use. I work with Jacoby on a few signs, and he seems to understand them. It's getting him to sign, even hand-over-hand, that's the hard part.

Debbie, mom to Jacoby

Nate said...

Hi Debbie,

It is a cool program. And I'll make sure I post progress as we go. So far what we've seen work with Whitney is persistence and praise. We just keep practicing with her and when she finally makes a sign, even when it's not perfect we praise her like she'd just climbed Everest or something. That builds her desire to keep trying. Good luck. I'm sure Jacoby will be signing more on no time.


Jessup Jive said...

I can never remember the difference between d and f either. Good luck I hope it continues to work out!!