Say What?

Norm Chomsky, B. F. Skinner, and others are names that tumble off lips of linguistics and behavior students and professors of language and its acquisition. Many will reference to these giants for all languages. My question is, who are those that are the giants in those that acquire language in a visual way? Many of these articles they have published are primary about with with no blocks to their acquiring the language of their environment. The studies are about how language is acquired and how can it be improved for those whom there may be issues in acquiring it or to use the environment and application of training to improve current methods in education. Even Dr. Spock was a part of all this. What interest me is these names come mostly from my generation of people. What about new thinkers? What if anything has been discovered in neural science?

I want to know more what is known about language about children who acquire language base on visual rather than audio. Why? My story is not typical of many deafen kids. “Exception to the rule” was something I heard pretty much all my life, and got sick of it. Still do. But so you do understand where I come from I will be clear and explain that I picked up English later than other children. While labeled profoundly deaf, I was able to make use of powerful hearing aides. Audiologist and others who worked with me are convinced I must of been born hearing. If  I was I have no memory of it or of learning to speak easily. My language was quite mangled and most consisted of pointing to things to get what I needed. Age six and half I obtained my first hearing aids and while I had home studies for speech I got my first professional speech therapist around second grade.  Reading I remembered suddenly made sense to me when a teacher showing my little brother how to read in kindergarten showed a picture of a ball, and the word, dog and a picture of a Cocker Spaniel. Suddenly I began to get the idea and opened a book near by with pictures of a ball and a dog.  Mom ended up bring home books like those for my brother. I began to use them too and remembered in time I figured out how to read, I was close to nine at the time.  Eventually I could read beyond my age group, but could not read aloud very well as many of the words I had no idea how to pronounce. I only was able to guess their meanings from context of sentences and because I was told to use the dictionary and encyclopedia a lot. So over time I did acquire language. I eventually got a BFA and MA in spite of the fact my parents were told they would be lucky if I could graduate high school by age twenty two and if I had children I would need help as they expected my mental development to be delayed as well. Even going to college was not encouraged, but I was stubborn and demanded a way in.

So how kids get language visually is of great interest to me as a teacher and as a student. I plan to write some blogs here about this. Not about various devices used to enhance sounds for deaf – hearing impaired children. Because frankly they still need to rely on visual abilities to gain access to language no matter how well they eventually learn to use the audio aspects of any device they may or may not use. For accuracy if anyone would like to point out some relevant information they found useful, please send me the information. I would also love to interview any Parents and their story of teaching their children access to language as well.

Nancy Louise





Mother’s Day is this Sunday. The media is full of the blossomed love we have for our primal comfort from birth. For some however, what ever the reason, that primal may have been disrupted, disturbed, or utterly destroyed leaving a creature of human flesh and blood feeling oddly alienated if one’s instinct to gather flowers for the day remain mute.

Her ashes sit in my garage. I never meant for her to rest there for so long. I was supposed to have my own plot of land by now. Instead she remains in a funny cookie jar of a pig flying a corn cob. Memories of her cookie jar stories come flooding back when I see that. I would have put her in the cookie jar she grew up with, the metal lid after the glass one broke. The stories of her successful heist of cookies cause much laughter about how she stole cookies from over the years. Alas like many things that are fragile, it too broke.

Mom also became brittle and shattered. Us kids didn’t know how to catch the pieces and Dad was too into himself to notice or perhaps chose not to. Our house was a dry house, drugs were from the doctor, they kept her alive, and around the bend a lot too.

When she died, at age 61 from a lifetime of ragged health brought on my serious drastic asthma,  I was so relieved. I was horrified I felt relived, I went to confession to pour out my sin as an unworthy daughter, only to be told most gently, “that must mean, she can’t hurt you anymore”.   Months after she died, I finally cried, not out of grief in her passing, but relief I was not some horrible monster. She also died shortly before my youngest was born, I do wish she could have at least held him. That seemed to be one thing I did that please her, give her grandchildren she could hold.

Each birthday, Mothers day I do think of her, wish her well in her peace. Happy she is no longer tormented by her many illnesses. Each year, I find a few more good memories to add to an emotional scrap book of, good days she did have. However, you won’t find me among those wishing her back. Some pains are better left where they belong, gone and quiet. When I get my plot of land, I too will lay there eventually in a scattered pieces ash mixed in with my parents and flower seeds. Hopefully in the following seasons wild flowers will dance in the wind of happiness.

Nancy Louise