Monday, December 7, 2015

Perseverence + Consistency= Milestone!

Two exciting things happened Friday night (12/4/2015): First, Orion signed “MOM” and “DAD”; second, Nyle DiMarco won America’s Next Top Model’s final season (ANTM’s 22nd season). 

Celebrating Nyle DiMarco

Nyle is Deaf and uses ASL. Have you seen Nyle’s modeling photos? Go Google him up! When Tyra revealed Nyle as the winner of ANTM's final season, we erupted in cheers.  My Facebook community hash-tagged #NyleDiMarco and uploaded many pictures and videos of jubilant TV viewers from coast to coast.
Some of us even gathered around to watch again the announcement of the winner.
(Photo description: five adults, one is standing and the rest are seated in front of the TV displaying the image of Nyle DiMarco and his mother, Donna. A huge Christmas tree is displayed to the left of the TV.)

ANTM's Hostess Tyra Banks said it well,

"So, Nyle, you won America's Next Top Model because you are an amazing model. You have it. You just so happen to be Deaf.” 
Our children and their friends entertained us by holding their own runway walk show with our Halloween head-gear and dress-up costumes.  Nyle had inspired Deaf and KODA kids! (KODA means Kids Of Deaf Adults.)

Orion was with us the whole time. He could sense the excitement in the air, was in a playful, happy mood.

Now, regarding, Orion, ​I've got to get (or someone could invest in) one of those body cameras or GoPro thingamajigs, or have a video crew following him around. For now, those brief but awesome moments will have to be for Orion, myself and anyone else who witnesses it.

Orion signed words we've waiting so long for

Earlier in the day of Nyle's win, for the first time ever, Orion signed an approximation of "MOM" as I was holding him! First he signed it on himself, thumb out and touching his chin and his fingers were claw-like (standard sign would be outstretched fingers, but I don't care- it's what he MEANT!) then he touched my chin with his thumb. For five years we signed "MOM" on his chin as a touch cue and in the last couple of years we signed it on ourselves with him riding our hands and on him (pairing touch cue and tactile sign language). Anyway back to the moment, Orion then went on to sign an approximation of "DAD". He was grinning from ear to ear! He knew he did something awesome, I could tell by his intense smile! I handed Orion over to Dad and we reinforced Orion by signing Dad via tactile ASL and touch cue.

Did I see that? Did he really sign that? Did he really mean it? There wasn't a camera around. Even if there were, we would probably lose the moment while fumbling to turn the camera on. My husband Thomas and our friend Teri (first to arrive for the ANTM finale party) saw him sign, too, and confirmed it.

It did not happen overnight, it took five-plus years…

Photo description: Orion, our snowy-haired son holding a wooden toy, leans his head lovingly on Mom's left wrist. Mom's hands appear from out of frame and behind Orion, and are resting on his upper chest, embracing him.
Photo credit: Clare Cassidy Photography, September 2014.


Consistency is important. Not just in the routines and labeling but in the fact every member of your child’s team, at home and school, uses the same signs. The same goes for symbols and cues.  I encourage parents to find out what signs are used in school with their child and the IEP team needs to stay on top of what signs are used at home. Also important is using the same, standardized signs, cues, and/or symbols, etc. during activities, with the object or person. This way it is more concrete, rather than a distant, abstract notion plucked from outer space.  We want to encourage concept development, that way, the labels are able to stick in the child's mind! If you have the opportunity to, go ahead and repeat the sign a couple more times as they are also opportunities for him/her, too, to receive this information.

"Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before."
~ Jacob Riis
Now that Orion has signed "MOM" and "DAD", we will not stop doing what we've done all this time because we have also seen him sign words before and never to sign them again.  We did think maybe he signed them when no one was looking at him, either we were doing something else or it was at night while everyone was sleeping and he was partying.  We would not be able to reinforce, respond, affirm his efforts to communicate.  Because of that, we will not stop.

A hundred and one blows or five years, whatever the length may be, we need to stay the Orion course!
Artist theme going on here!
I pump-spray painted Orion's t-shirt, a formerly plain white t-shirt covered in black and blue paint with the distinctive pattern of the seven brightest stars of the Orion constellation on his chest.  Orion is also sporting a light-teal colored bandana on his forehead.  This bandana-wearing is a De'VIA artist's trademark, who also happens to have white hair, too. Can you guess which artist this is?

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