Many are aware that babies absorb a wealth of information through interaction with adults, acquiring the nuances of language, speech formation, and conversational patterns. While conversing with infants is crucial for their development, a mother, Christina Pax, has implemented a policy that might initially raise eyebrows.
Christina, a mother of two, has a deaf older daughter named Riley and an infant son named Leon, who can hear. The family adheres to a rule: if Riley isn’t wearing her Cochlear Implant (CI), they communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). Some commenters expressed confusion and frustration, accusing the mom of “depriving her baby” of language. However, Pax’s reasoning behind this unconventional approach stems from genuine love.
Pax clarified that her family is bilingual, seamlessly switching between English and ASL to include Riley in conversations. Riley’s CI aids her in hearing the world, but its purpose is to adapt to her hearing needs, not the other way around. When Riley opts not to wear her CI, using ASL is Pax’s way of accommodating her daughter.
In a video, baby Leon appears captivated while his mom communicates through signing. As an infant, he absorbs information, experiencing it visually rather than auditorily. Bilingual families often alternate between languages, and some restrict their home language until children become fluent enough to switch effortlessly.
“We are a bilingual family. We switch between languages based on accessibility in conversation. ASL is accessible to him, so no, it’s not sacrificing his accessibility for hers. He’s getting ASL in addition to English, not in place of,” explained Pax in the comments.
Despite ASL being a fully-fledged language, some find it challenging to accept it as distinct from English. Commenters swiftly corrected this misconception, emphasizing that the baby is learning both languages simultaneously through visual absorption.
It’s essential to remember that deaf parents can have hearing children whose primary language may be ASL or another sign language, with English acquired from external sources. Ultimately, Pax is doing something remarkable for her children, teaching her daughter to navigate the world with or without hearing and fostering communication between siblings. Bilingualism, a valuable skill, enables individuals to converse with those who may not speak English.
Baby Leon appears to enjoy both the spoken and signed communication between his mother and sister, benefiting from a rich linguistic environment.