Mom responds to criticism for not talking to her baby with heartwarming answer
"He’s getting ASL in addition to English, not in place of."
Everyone knows that babies learn a great deal of information from adults talking to them. They learn how to form sounds and words. They learn the difference between a question and statement. They even learn the cadence of a conversation, like to pause after talking so the other person can speak. Talking to babies is so important to their development, but one mom has implemented a policy that may initially raise some eyebrows.
Christina Pax is a mom of 2, her older daughter Riley is deaf and her infant son, Leon is hearing. But Pax and her family have a rule that if Riley isn't wearing her Cochlear Implant (CI) then the family sticks to American Sign Language (ASL). Commenters seemed a bit confused and frustrated that the mom "deprived her baby" of language, but turns out her reasoning was out of love.
Pax explained that her family is bilingual and they switch between English and ASL often so their daughter can be included in conversations. Riley's CI helps her hear what is going on in the world, but it's job is to accommodate the hearing not the other way around. By using ASL when Riley doesn't want to wear her CI, Pax is accommodating her daughter.
In the video you can see that baby Leon is completely engrossed in what his mom is saying while she's signing. As an infant he's absorbing all of the information around him, but instead of hearing words, he's seeing them. Bilingual families often speak alternate between languages in their home and some families only speak their home language inside the home until their children become fluent enough to switch between the two with ease.
"We are a bilingual family. We switch between languages and use the one that is accessible to everyone in the convo. ASL is accessible him, so no, it’s not sacrificing his accessibility for hers. He’s getting ASL in addition to English, not in place of" Pax says in the comments.
ASL seems to be more difficult for hearing people to accept as being it's own language and not a replacement for English. But commenters were quick to help the mom clear things up.
"ASL IS A FULL FLEDGED LANGUAGE. It’s like English/Spanish households. He will learn BOTH equally! He is watching her while signing he is absorbing the information with his eyes just like a baby hearing english would," one person says.
"But he will be exposed to spoken English in every other aspect of his life, extended family, even going to the shop, playground etc! Its exactly the same as how a lot of parents raise bilingual children with two spoken languages," another writes.
When you're hearing, it can be hard to remember that deaf people can give birth to hearing children. Children who's first language is ASL or another form of sign language that learn to speak English from sources outside of their parents like TV, grandparents, extended family members and friends.
When it comes down to it, this mom is actually doing something amazing for her daughter and son. She's teaching her daughter that she deserves to be able to navigate the world with or without hearing and she's teaching her son how to communicate with his sister. Being bilingual is an amazing skill. It allows you to be able to speak to others who may not speak English which can be invaluable.
Baby Leon seems to enjoy his mom and sister using their voices and also using ASL, so he will