Just another site

Do you hear what I hear?

Having worked in a deaf school for many years I came to appreciate the sound of silence as well as paying closer attention to sounds in my environment. First, let me make it clear, deaf schools are not silent. Very few deaf are stone deaf, there is some residual hearing though not functional in what we hearing would understand. You do become far more aware of sound vinrations while working in a deaf school because the deaf react to the slightest of vibrations in many cases that we hearing ignore because we focus on the sound.

Hard of hearing have a difficult time in a deaf school because it is so noisy. If the teacher is deaf then there is no one to calm the outside noise of scooting chairs or loud shuffling papers. Often a child would have attention problems which lead to behavior issues. I would go into the classroom to do environmental sound assessments. Again, if you are not aware of sound then you do not consciously adjust for it in regard to others. If you are hard of hearing you may not always realize it is the back ground noise is bothering you. I need to note here many deaf will turn their hearing aids off during class time because of the noise levels. Hearing aides do not filter noise like the brain does, it just ramps it up so it can be heard. Think about a busy subway with the crowd noises and the trains, amplify 25x, that is a certain headache if not a migraine moment in the making. This same effect can happen in the classroom. Can you imagine being a 7-year-old having to deal with such blasting in your head?

As hearing people we often do not consider the noise as a source of problem in the work environment. This is a false assumption. I was in the bank yesterday discussing with a consumer support  representative about my new business. A prime example time to make her aware of the need for environmental assessments to help improve productivity and employee/consumer comfort. There were fax machines, computer pings and dings, adding machines, papers shuffling, people talking, doors closing… the list was endless. Then I directed her attention to some of the employees. You could see the frustration due to the “bells and whistles” going off at sporadic times. The bank music was terrible! I mentioned a switch to a music with  more white noise tones would help solve the problem because it would drown out the other obnoxious sounds that irritate.  The look on her face was shock. She never thought about all the sounds and how they affect others. Now she was super sensitive to all noises and was picking up on the negative side effects.

Working with autistic and extreme ADHD people, this is a crippling issue. They cannot filter sounds so they get the full blunt of the chaos and bombardment of the noise plus a heighten awareness of the sound level. Another place were sound studies are conducted with great success in the outcome of those who are exposed is in the neonatal wards. Premature babies( preemies) are hooked up to all sorts of machines which whirl and beep, often chirp. A study found that this stressed the infants. Measures are taken  in many hospitals to either filter the noise with music or reduce the sound so it is not so startling to the babies. I cannot quote the source but I do remember reading a study that felt there was a link between the extreme noise in the neonatal units to learning problems and ADHD in later life for preemies.

The next time you find yourself getting tense and frustrated take a minute to do a personal sound study of what is happening in your environment. You might just need to step out to a quieter place to give your brain a rest. For every sound your brain is registering the source, the distance, if it is a potential threat, guessing how long it might continue…. all this for multiple sounds while you are trying to get your daily work completed. We are often not aware of how hard we are pushing ourselves because we are not aware of the multi-tasking going on within our minds.

Did you hear that?


Without words

Puzzling words, Soul Collage

Puzzling words, Soul Collage

If a picture paints a thousand words, so why can’t I paint you? The words will never show the you I’ve come to know,  the opening lyrics from a popular song sung by Bread back in the 70’s. Though words can say many things the true meaning may not be expressed. Working with the deaf I found that signing can paint a 1,000 words. The emotions, body language and the flow say so much more than mere words. Learning to sign was often confusing because it is a language of the self. No two people sign the same. Guess that is true of the hearing if you have a New Yorker and a South Georgia Southern Belle in the same room together, those two do not sound the same. Hearing people sometimes do not speak in the way the message was intended. It can shew the meaning. With the deaf, you know exactly the emotion behind the message. I appreciated their free flow of emotion during conversations because I was never confused about their intent.

Did you know that there are over 48 different meanings to the word, “run?” You can run for office. Run your hose. Run to the store. I think you get the idea. In sign language there are 48 different signs unless you are using Signed Exact English. I could speak the sentence in the same tone every time and the context my shew the meaning of which “run” I was using if the listener wasn’t familiar with the situation. In sign the body language and expression make if very clear which one I was using. Just got to love ASL!

If you are not familiar with Soul Collage, please investigate. It is a wonderful process of allowing the mind to grab pictures to paint thoughts. My experience with Soul Collage has opened a new world of understanding of my inner thoughts. I cruise magazines and the internet with no real intention other than grabbing imagines of interest at that moment. They come together on a card in what ever fashion seems to work. Afterwards I look to see what story my collection has to tell. Often I am very surprised because I go at it with a blank slate. The one featured came about one day after my ASL assessment. I was having a very frustrating moment with my signing. The deaf could understand me fine but the ASL evaluators who were hearing had issues. Have decided that hearing folks should not evaluate other hearing during assessments of ASL. The deaf were surprised at my score. No doubt my inner most emotions were at play when this Soul Collage was created.

Explore sign language. Babies as young as 5 months can learn to sign. It will reduce a lot of frustrations. Also, explore Soul Collage. You will be surprised how the pictures will communicate your inner thoughts you could not put into words. This too will reduce frustrations.


1 Comment »


Well, I guess you did if you are reading this. That was a misleading title because of course you would open to read this blog.

Many folks have an issue with following directions. (I am not referring to you opening this blog.) Many teachers vent about students not following directions. I might know the possible issue why so many do not follow directions, their parents do not. Is it a lack of respect or just that pathological need to defy authority? Whatever the reason I believe we are sending a wrong message to children. Most of learning is incidental. If you think your kids are not watching or aware of your actions, think again.

Working in a deaf school for many years I learned the value of incidental learning. So many students lacked a lot of common knowledge often taken for granted. We are constantly learning from events and situations that are going on around us though we are often not aware or participating in them directly. Being deaf cuts one-off from a more experiences than most are aware. They are often clueless of what is happening around them because they are not alert to turn to observe due to a lack of being able to hear to know something is happening.

I will be the first to admit I often question certain directives and rules but will comply for it is what I should do. When you make it a habit of breaking the rules and defy direct orders then you are setting an example for your kids to do the same. When you steal, bully, go against the law, or simply instruct your child to not follow a directive from an adult who is  in charge of an event then you are leading a child astray. So, you do not agree with the position your child was assigned on a ball team. It is not your place to tell your child to defy the coach and play another. It is not ok to pitch a fit and pull your child from the team to get your way. Again, this is teaching your child a bad lesson in manners and promoting bullying behavior. Please reconsider your reasons for not following directions or directives before you do so, it might have a bigger impact on the future of your child than you think.

My blog is to make people aware of daily events that shape child behavior as well as why adults behave as they do which can be a direct result from childhood events. Often we are not aware of the consequences though we often complain about a child’s or an adult’s lack of proper behavior. Please note that life happens and some situations cannot be avoided. I focus on  addressing events that most people are fully aware they are doing but do not think about the consequences. Simple changes can make a huge impact on behavior not only in the current time but also in the future.


What now?

Sir Joshua Reynolds - Self-Portrait as a Deaf ...

Been hearing lots from both sides about the aftermath of November 6. So now what? Life goes on. What most do not realize it the impact of the negative and ober positive are having on the kids. It doesn’t matter who you voted for as much as how you deal with the “what now” part. Your attitudes towards others, which doesn’t mean you have to agree with their choices, and how you move forward directly impacts how your children treat others. Children are taught hate. They do not see color or race or preferences, that is learned.

Working in a deaf school I learned what it is like to be descriminated against for something I could not help- I was hearing. Other than the deaf/hearing issue, deaf basically do no see color, shape, size, religon, race, haircolor, job, educational status, sexual preference, etc. they just see a person. It was a very unusual environment at first because to them everyone that is deaf is pretty much equal and there for potenially a friend. It is an environment where people are gut level honest but mean it in a helpful way, not hurting. Hearing folks really find this honestly to be difficult, ironic that we wish not to hear the truth though we can. I think we as a society could learn a lot from the deaf culture. I cannot begin to explain it, one just has to experience it.

So when you start raving how you hate this group or that, please check to see if children are around. Please give them a chance to form their own opinions. There are enough bullys and gang behaviors in the schools, no more need to be created.

The bigger question I guess is why doesn’t positive spread as fast as hate? Seems people would gravity to something good yet it is the opposite. So what now? Are you planning to be a part of the new trend to focus on positive or will you continue the negative spiral down the toilet with attitude and hate? For me, I chose to find the positve, plant more of it and make a difference. Not the easiest but in the end, the most rewarding.

bullies bullies in the workplace businesss storytelling creativity deaf dream big education increasing productivity Uncategorized

1 Comment »

Jul 4

Sassafras Mittens

For the other story:

Persian and Flemish  Folklore
Long, long ago, the first people began  life as a double tree. God separated the two trees, gave them souls, turned the  branches into arms and legs, and made the crowns into heads filled with the gift  of knowledge. Other trees also wanted to become people. They tried, but didn’t  make it. However, some of their leaves, like sassafras’, are shaped like human  hands, showing our link to trees.
Just love folk

Tree Tales

lore and tales!!

What stories have been passed down in your family? Which stories do you recall from your childhood that you can share with someone today? What made hearing those stories as a child so interesting that they stayed with you as an adult?
Watching a good story-teller is a treat. I mentioned in an earlier blog about deaf storytellers and how one could understand them by their use of body movements and expressions. I think that is true of both hearing and deaf story tellers, the body language brings the story to life as well as an unforgetable experience. So, what is your story?


adventures American Sign Language businesss storytelling deaf dream big education imagination Storytelling Uncategorized

Leave a comment »

Jun 20

A story without words

English: "American Sign Language" in...

English: “American Sign Language” in SignWriting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ha! Guess you thought this would be an empty blog. Is it possible to tell a story without words? Some people believe a picture paints a thousand words but the story  would be derive from the viewer’s own experiences. So back to the question, can you tell a story without words? Yes.

The most beautiful and detailed stories can be told without a single spoken word. I have been blessed over the years to work with the deaf. If you have never experienced a deaf storytelling event then you have missed out on one of the most incredible events of your life time. A good deaf story-teller doesn’t require those present to know sign language. Their body and motions engulf you in the moment transporting you to places that only a deaf storyteller can.

Sign language is a beautiful language. It truly is a language, not a few short hand signals that make up a sentence. Just like us Southerners, when certain deaf chat, they have their own short cuts. If you have ever heard Jeff Foxworthy, then you know what I mean. Southerners have a way of condensing  sentences to a mess of vowel sounding representations for various phrases. I cannot even begin to attempt to spell it. I urge everyone to take the challenge to learn a few signs so if you meet up with a deaf person you can at least have a conversation. Plus, there are many benefits to learning sign that you can use daily.

Did you know that babies can sign as early as 6 months? An infant can be taught to sign some basic signs starting at birth. I have seen 6 to 8 month olds asking for food, acknowledging pain, and even using the sign for mom and dad long before they say their first words. Babies who sign early are less frustrated, same can be said for the parents. Trying to figure out why a baby is crying is quite a task for some. It also helps develop a part of the brain which gives a child a boost later in life. Only positive gains in teaching your infant to sign.

Kids with learning challenges can learn to sign to boost spelling and reading.  Learning the sign language alphabet and using it to study spelling words has shown to improve struggling spellers. I have had personal experience with this  as a special education teacher, as a parent of a child with challenges, and for me personally.

I need to note there are various types of signing. Signed Exact English has a sign for every word and follows the same grammar rules as we speak.  American Sign Language which has its own syntax and grammar rules.  Some folks simply gesture as a means of signing. A good resource about signing can be found below in the links.

Some people think that sign language cannot be in written form but that is not correct. The picture on this blog is how SignWriting would write “American Sign Language” in  form that deaf and hearing alike can understand. Please check out the site for more information. Once you learn the basic symbols you will find it is very easy to understand. Often facial inflections and other body motions are left off when people are being taught ASL, but with SignWriting, it captures it all. I found using SignWriting an easier way to pick up the signs because it is exactly the way the sign should be. Yes, even the deaf and those that sign  can be what I call, “whiny signers” or “fast flyers.” Either they are sloppy and floppy or their hands fly so fast it is nearly impossible to understand them. Hmmm, the same as with speaking, some are just a challenge to understand. It is best to be very clear in your signing because there is a slight twist in some of the signs for naughty words. Many are often very close to commonly used signs. Many deaf youngsters will use this against newbies to signing so let this be a warning.

You can never go wrong with learning a new language. The benefits of signing reach far beyond what you might think. Give it a try!

ADHD American Sign Language deaf education increasing productivity sensory awareness Storytelling Uncategorized