“The best thing about signing for me, is that I have the option of talking to my children verbally, or if they are far away, I can sign to them—as long as I have their attention! That’s such a positive. I love that if I’m frustrated with one of them in public, I can sign to them without raising my voice. Also if we’re say, in a restaurant, I can sign, ‘Do you want to go to the toilet?’ without shouting it across the table . But the most fulfilling thing—not with Hadley because she was too young—with Brynn and Theo, after their cochlear implant surgeries when there was no sound for about three days, straightaway they transitioned to sign. Those days were hard, but we could still communicate and that was great.” Dylan (Dad)
“Our youngest was only nine months when she got cochlear implants so it’s really hard to say with her what the difference was post-implant. Our son got them at about 18 months. He was the most deaf out of the three of them. And with him, I noticed that the sounds he was producing changed very quickly. Brynn was three when she got implanted, quite late, they generally try to implant at six months, if they can. She probably struggled the most with the days of no hearing after the operation. But as soon as she got switched on it was like, “I’m back!”
“My hope for the future is that the kids are comfortable and confident with who they are. We are involved with the Deaf community, so they are around other children and adults who are deaf and are signing. There was one point when Brynn said, ‘I don’t want to wear cochlears, I just want to be deaf,’ and I said, ‘That’s fine’. If they don’t want to wear their devices and they just want to sign, that’s okay. It’s why we learned to sign—to support them in whichever way they prefer to communicate.
“I just want them to know they are capable of doing what anyone else can do. They might have to do things slightly differently but they can still achieve. They are already bilingual! Brynn has been teaching her class sign language so all those kids have benefitted as well.
“If you’re thinking about learning to sign, just do it—go for it. I’ve never once met a deaf person who’s said, ‘You’re signing this wrong, I’m not going to communicate with you!’ The Deaf community is so accepting and want to get NZSL out there—make it known that it is for everyone to use. It is an official language so I think it should be a core subject at school. People approach us in the community when they see the cochlear implants and ask us if we can sign, so it’s a bit of an ice-breaker, the implants—that’s pretty cool.” Emily (Mum)