Inclusivity is a core value that all parents must always teach their kids since that is how they can contribute to a world worth living in.
The feeling of learning something that is also benefitting others is beyond words. The impact of this gesture was recently highlighted when a story about a mom helping her twin toddlers learn ASL (American Sign Language) for the betterment of their classmate surfaced on the internet. The mom sought help from the online community to facilitate communication between her twins and their deaf classmate, who all are just two years old. The story was posted on Reddit by u/TraditionalHeart6387 about her two-year-old twins who had begun learning ASL.
As posted by the mother, the kids know how to sign basic words, which caught the attention of their deaf classmate. The twins often sign in conjunction with speaking, using signs for everyday items and actions. It intrigued the deaf child, who attempted to communicate with the twins by signing her name and gesturing towards them, showing her eagerness to know their names. The mother revealed her desire to teach her kids how to respond when their classmate inquires about their names in ASL. She mentioned that her children have simple, common nouns for names, making it somewhat challenging to create ASL signs directly. Among deaf people, names are typically finger-spelled unless a deaf individual assigns a specific sign.
It posed a dilemma for the mother, who wanted to ensure her children responded to their deaf friend appropriately and inclusively. The mother expressed concern and said, "I don't want the little girl to feel rejected or isolated because the kids can't or won't answer her since she has been asking for a few days. Any help or advice would be great!" Her genuine desire to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion in her children's interactions with their Deaf classmates resonated with many who came across her post.
One of the respondents to the post, u/OGgunter, suggested a thoughtful approach, saying, "Fingerspell and let the classmate initialize or create a name sign that suits. A 2-year-old is not too young to begin teaching deaf culture as well as sign. Best of luck!"
Another user, u/alex_the_awkward_emo, recommended a practical method, saying, "Fingerspell the name or do the first letter of the name and shake at either the top of the head for a masculine person or the chin for a feminine person." u/Slow_Ad_9051 shared their experience and said, "So, my husband is HoH (80% hearing loss from birth). He was brought up in the hearing world as his parents didn't want to learn signs, but he learned as an adult. We use ASL to supplement spoken English in our home. Long story short, he has a sign name, but we don't have sign names for the rest of the family - but there's no way we're going to fingerspell names all the time, especially with kids. So, we just use initials."
u/coldcurru shared some invaluable advice for the mother, "As a parent, I would absolutely leave my contact info with the teacher and ask her to pass it on. Mention you're trying to help the kids grow their friendship, but you're in a rut with signing and not wanting to overstep your boundaries in the deaf community, so, you want to talk to her parents for advice. They won't be offended. Some deaf don't like being asked to give sign names, but I'm sure her parents can help you out if it makes it easier for the girls to communicate."