The first time I saw someone speaking American Sign Language (ASL) was probably when I was around the ages of 7-10. My parents had a friend in Idaho (who also owned horses) that was a ASL interpreter.
My parents were very close with this couple but us kids didn’t really know them all to well. I think it may have been in a church setting that I saw her signing to the audience I really wish I could remember more of the experience but I remember being extremely curious about it. I wanted to know more. Why did she use her hands that way? what was it for? How could I do the same thing? So naturally I went to my mother for the answers.
She told me that her friend used her hands to speak with people. I then asked “Why didn’t she just use her mouth?” This was probably pretty funny to my mom. She sweetly answered that there were some people who couldn’t hear and had to use their hands. She also told me that her friend learned their language and was able to translate what she heard into their language. Ever sense that day ASL has been something I’ve deeply wanted to learn.
I’m not sure why I’ve never shared this information with many people before. Maybe it’s because of the reason that ASL was and still is so interesting to me. First things first when I was 6 months old I had spinal meningitis. My parents were told that later on they may see brain damage but most likely not until I was in school. This caused me to also have a very low immune system. When I was between the ages of 0-5 I had A LOT of ear infections. During those periods I couldn’t hear very well. My mom recalls that I’d sit very close to the Television and turn the sound up all the way and still complain about not hearing it. I had 5 sets of ear tubes (these are little round plastic spool like things that are built to help drain fluid from your ears) Before I was 4. At age 5 I had my tonsils and adenoids removed. This seemed to clear out most of the problem (I still struggle with congestion on a daily bases).
However, because of the lack of being able hear until I was 5 I had spent most of my early years lip reading. I had developed a bad lisp and unfortunately passed that onto my younger brother because we hung out so much (he is 18 months younger then me). I had to have a speech therapist for some time. He was the nicest guy I have ever met. He was just this sweet old man that would always encourage me to better myself in the kindest ways. I can’t compare him to anyone else in my life. He used to tell me I was the BEST tongue clicker around (where you make a clicking sound with your tongue at the top of your mouth). I’m sure I wasn’t but he made me feel special.
Later on in school.. I want to say about 2nd or 3rd grade I started showing signs of dyslexia when I would write and read. I struggled with learning words. So they gave me IEP testing to see what was going on. They found out that I had Long term memory loss and that my short term memory was working amazingly to try and over compensate for the loss. In basic terms brains have to places of storing memory. One is the short term which only hold a certain amount of information but then that information gets pushed out by new information and stored into the long term memory. So pretty much I do not remember things easily.. and I have struggled my whole life with this learning disability.
These things all added together are why I’m so very interested in ASL. Not only do I understand what it is like not being able to hear I also understand what it is like growing up in a fast paced society and having a disability. Mine obviously isn’t as noticeable as being deaf but it does cause a lot of difficulty with moving forward in the sort of society we live in. Lastly because of my disability learning other languages is almost impossible. I still can’t sound out words… let alone try and learn another languages sounds. This is a more recent reason to why I’m interested in ASL but I love the visual aspect of the language. It’s so beautiful and expressive. The way they can depict stories or how they are feeling it something I hope to once achieve.
So why am I writing about my interest in American Sign Language? well.. Because I’ve decided to go back to school and try for my associates in American Sign Language! I’ve been planning on doing this for over 5 months now and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m hoping to start in the fall if all goes well. If not then in the spring! Choosing to do my associates was a hard thing but as of right now I really really really want to try for it. I’m going to look into the Learning Disability program at the schools where I live now and see if they can help me more then the schools in Utah could. My learning disability is very rare.. which also makes it hard to believe and then to also aid someone with it… So I’ve tried college 2 and wasn’t successful. I’m hoping this time will work out. If the Associates plan doesn’t pan out i can at least get a certificate in ASL and then move on to becoming a interpreter! This has been a dream of mine from such a young age. I can’t wait to finally full-fill it!