Friday, February 27, 2009

ASL verses AVT

I have come across this discussion of ASL verses AVT lately.A pediatrician cousin working in US had a discussion with my teacher , Mrs Alaka Hudlikar, also wanted to see how AVT is preferred to ASL. Well after the discussion she too came to the conclusion that AVT is definitely the best way to integrate the deaf child to normal life in the early intervention programme.She says that 99 % of the deaf kids have parents who can hear.They have no clue of the sign language. If they diagnose early , and fit with hearing aids that suit them , next comes language development. To teach the child sign language , the parents first have to learn it as with little kids, they spend maximum time with the mothers.To learn any new language , be it sign or french ,German etc , it would take minimum 2 -3 years to perfect it and then you need people who would communicate with you in that language to practice it.In that time , 2-3 years of precious , formative years of the child's life when he develops language go wasted.The mother tongue of the family needs no time and as soon as the aids are put the mother can talk to the child under the guidance of a speech therapist to help the child to develop speech and language.Moreover in the last 40 years of her taking speech therapy classes, there is not a single mother who has come and told her that she would like her child to learn to sign.ALL mothers say just one thing, teach my child to talk, I want to hear his voice, I want him to call me " mummy".All the mothers are ready to do anything to hear their child talk. More over in my entire life ,had it not been for Prisha, I would not have met so many deaf people.How many people on the road and public places know sign language? Are we not limiting their world? They need to be with someone all time to help them decipher to other people what they want to communicate. Today if somebody asked me about it , I would never want her to sign.I love to hear her sing and speak.Had it not been for AVT , I would have been deprived of this pleasure.I would be afraid to leave her alone all by herself.Today she leads a very normal life like any other normal kid. There are normal kids who only have one language, deaf also can do with one language.If I go to south India, I manage with English, I don't learn the local language of all the places I visit. Once one language is learnt, the deaf too can pick up 2nd or 3rd language if they want. Prisha is picking up Hindi, thanks to this programme. There is difference between my normal son and her.There is a child in ma'am's class who has picked up 4 languages.The method is the same, teach the child to listen and speak. Once they learn to reproduce the sounds they hear, they can learn any language. So I really feel , in the early intervention programme, the child's best option is AVT. If diagnosed later than 10 years, then yes, sign language is a better option.

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