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Auditory Total Oral Verbal Sign Communication

Posted Aug 19 2009 5:23pm
This past weekend we went to a great camp sponsored by the Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. It was about as outdoorsy as I can tolerate: air conditioned cabins, electricity and clean showers. I am a wimp, I know.

We almost turned around halfway through the drive to camp because Peas apparently inherited his Mom's carsick gene. Not pretty. But we took a chance and kept going into the middle of nowhere.

The purpose of the weekend was for parents to network and learn about strategies for helping our diverse group of children and for the kids to have some fun together too. We went swimming in the lake, took the kids paddleboating, touched live snakes and frogs, played basketball and got our share of mosquito bites.

The only bummer was that my kids are not "stay up late" kids (also inherited from me) and as a result we missed a cool late night nature walk and a campfire. If they are not in bed by 8:00PM, they turn into wild, overtired, sobbing monsters. Trust me. Also not pretty.

We met all sorts of parents who use a variety of communcation modes. Mia was completely fascinated by the people who were signing and really took to one of the volunteers who did not use spoken language at all. It didn't seem to matter, though. They communicated just perfectly together. It was amazing to watch.

The one thing that I discovered after the weekend is that the lines between communication modes is really blurry. Again, something else that I wish would have been explained in the instruction manual I should have received when Peas was born deaf. You are told to choose a communication mode and your child's entire life from that point forward is dictated by this choice.

We chose AVT early on because it is what made the most sense at the time based on our long term goals for Peas. It still is. Peas attends an Auditory Oral group twice a week, so we have a bit of that sprinkled in too. I feel like it's the best of both worlds, but two very separate and distinct therapy models and extremely different from someone who chose the Total Communication approach.

Um, no. It would seem that this is not the case.

The two other parents I met at the camp who claim to be using an "oral only" approach (either AVT or AO) also use sign. Not just "all done water" and "stop" like we do when Peas is in the bathtub, I am talking full sign language. And these are families who send their kids to regular/mainstream schools and work with AVT/AO therapists.

What?!

I have no intention of learning ASL at this point and introducing any more sign into Peas' life right now. We are focused on speaking. It's just interesting that what the rules are and what is really done are so glaringly different.
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