Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Name Signs

Oh, life is getting complicated around here. We have a BIG change coming to our lives starting on Monday the 28th. That change is going to involve me assigning name signs to several new people.

Normally, assigning name signs to hearing people is something that should only be done by deaf people. When I was an Educational ASL Interpreter, interpreting for deaf students in the classroom, this job was left to me.

There are lots of rules about assigning name signs, and it's really not something to be taken lightly. A name sign (usually) stays with you for life! I'm kind of hoping I can have an acquaintance of mine who is deaf do this task for me. If not, the task will be left for me again. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun thing to do, but it's exhausting and my brain is very much out of practice!

Having a name sign for everyone Axel has close, regular contact with is important. The most obvious is so that he can talk to me about his day. Lets say your child has just come home from school, and you find a sucker in her backpack. You don't know who put it there. You show your child, "Oh, you have a sucker in your backpack! Who gave it to you?" Hopefully, if everyone in school has name signs, your child can say, "Johnny" and "Birthday", so you can put those together to know that the little boy Johnny in your child's class had a birthday today! (of course, if your child's teacher is really on top of things, your child has a communication notebook and you'll find he or she has jotted down a quick note about the days events, including Johnny's birthday.)

The other reason, the one we prefer not to think about. Safety. Axel needs to be able to tell me both the good and the bad in his life, and this includes using people's names. In November 2007 Angela was assaulted in school. She was able to tell me the name of the person, but what if she couldn't? What if she was like Axel and unable to say anything intelligible? Name signs are CRUCIAL for a non-verbal learner.

Do you have a name sign? Does your child? Who gave it to you? If you have a child who has DS and goes to school, do the students and staff all have name signs so your child can tell you about his or her day?


Hevel said...

I have an ASL/ISL and HSL/ISL (other I...) name sign. Both of them were just signs that got "stuck" with me in the deaf community after people got bored fingerspelling my name. The sign name I got in Hungary had to do with me being Irish, which is spelled the same was as he writes in Hungarian, so my sign is the sign of writing with a D hand. That is used by my kids, so it transferred to Israeli sign language.

Designs by DD said...

My husband and I both have sign names given to us by deaf friends. Mine is easy - just spell my name - DD (boring). My husband likes to tell jokes and his name starts with a "J" so his sign name is "Crazy J" - make a "J" in a circular motion around the ear. :)