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Perceiving the world

With Juli's ability to express more ASL words, I learned more about how she perceived the world and how she categorized things.

For example, there was a black wall with water falling down surrounded by different kinds of plants at a conservatory. Juli noticed it and uttered bath. I replied ix-loc water falling-down.

Next day or two, we took Juli to SPCA. There was a water falling wall. Juli stood in front of it and looked. She produced bath. I responded water. Sure enough, Juli responded by producing water (new production, see video)

Returning home from SPCA, Juli did show her understanding of categorizing cats from dogs.

A banana mini-muffin was her favorite. Two weeks or so ago, when Juli pointed to the cabinet for that snack, I opened the cabinet door to find out what she wanted. She pointed at the mini-muffin. I signed oh, ix-you want more. From right there on, Juli produced more in reference to cookies, muffins, and even a pack of fruit gummies (that I had never introduced her to, after all they are sweets that I didn't bother talking about or introducing). After all it was easier for her to produce more than cookie or any other snack.

Juli had been pointing to a picture of the moon in books. At the end of this week, I took Juli out for a stroller walk (warm weather). Juli produced [one-handed, right-handed, 20-handshape on headside repeatedly. I look puzzled. Juli then pointed at something in the sky behind me. I turned around. Aha, it was sun.

To double check, I asked where moon?. Juli pointed at the sun. Fascinating. Interesting how a child at this age perceives the world -- are the moon and the sun are one and the same?

Out for a stroller walk and off-stroller walk, Juli pointed at many evergreens in the neighbourhood and produced Christmas (or perhaps tree). Either these evergreens looked like a Christmas tree or Juli's productions for "tree" and "Christmas" look alike.

Perceiving through toddler's lens (1;4,2)

With some sufficient protowords Juli was able to express, it had been interesting to see different perspectives of the world through her lens.

The first one we learned about her perspective of the world that I mentioned a while ago was about the moon and the sun as one of the same. Though, she shortly later learned that there were two different ASL words for it.

A complementarity of the dog and the face

One of the events, though not new, was the image of the face on the screen in my digital painting.

For the past few months, whenever Juli looked at the self-portrait painting in the basemen, she excitedly pointed at it and produced !dog!. I looked around. Huh?

She consistently pointed at it and produced dog even though I told her I didn't see any dog. "There was no dog here. It's me the mother."

Finally one day about a month ago or so, I asked her where the dog was. I lifted her up and she showed me. She pointed at the abstract (a painting of the face on the laptop screen). I looked at the abstract and began to see the image of a dog like looking at the clouds or a inkblot. Ah!

This week Juli pointed at the painting. Not only she uttered dog, but also she mentioned mother!

The round thing

For the past weeks (1;1+), Juli produced, what I often dismissed, that was referring to the icon of Earth on my cellphone. I now realized that she was producing ball.

This week Juli found a small tough ball that bounced high. Holding the ball in her left hand, Juli happened to look at my cellphone.

She excitedly pointed at the icon of Earth and then pointed at the ball. She alternated pointing between the icon and the ball more than a few times as well as produced ball.

The passionate cry

Juli (1;4,2) looked at the cover of a magazine in the basement. She pointed at the image of a black man passionately playing guitar. She explained crying.

I looked at the image. Well, he was not crying but he indeed looked like he was crying. I nodded. I decided not to correct until one day she could understand the concept of a passionate emotion.

Viewing through toddler's lens (1;4,3)

Or, toddler says the darnest cute.

Worm-like object

Juli (1;4,3) spotted a thick flattened thread with a worm-like texture on the road near the sidewalk. She uttered worm. (See video, semi-reconstructed. The original production was much better.)

Later that day at around bedtime, Juli repeated uttering light, light.. light.. light. Her father turned to me, "What did she sign?" Without any reference, I answered my best, light. I trusted my instinct.

The father let Juli lead him from the family room through the hallway to the front door. He came back, "You're right. She was referring the light to the sunset." Sunset? I thought, fascinating.

Making a request (1;2,0)

Juli is able to make a request a few things she wished. For example, last week she would request a bath while she was eating or toddling around.

Juli was able to make a request which book she wanted from a pile of books on the kitchen table. She once pointed to the book and produced dog (tapping on her leg). I handed her a book with the cover of a dog.

The other day Juli pointed to one of the books and produced gorilla and I handed her the right book. For the rest of the books, I had to make a guesswork.

Requesting for a cookie by pointing to the kitchen cabinet and uttering more is very common. Sometimes pointing at something is sufficient for Juli and me to understand. For example, a light to turn on in the basement.

Use of ASL words

The following words that Juli has used with references in the last couple of weeks: girl (referring to the girl in the book), laundry (slightly bent 5-handshape+twisting wrist, ball (different production), moon (same for "sun"), firefigther (same for "father"), cold with mouth morpheme "razzy" (perfect and clear production) please, butterfly (new, emerging), Christmas (referring to Christmas boxes in the basement), milk and some reguarly used ASL words.

People's stories and comments

Got a story to tell your experience and share it with others? Send an email to Handspeak. I'd love to hear about it, too.

Ava using BSL

Ava at 14 months old uses BSL (British Sign Language)

Both of Ava's parents are deaf that fortunately Ava was able to access language right from birth. The mother believes that "hearing parents should be given the chance to learn sign language and be able to communicate with their own child fully. We think its important to note that eventually it would be great to see this opportunity given to grandparents, siblings, and other family members/carers.

"Language is not a privilege, it is a right." -- YouTube, "nickbeese"

"I want HANDSPEAK to be a learning tool for my granddaughter to share with me. She is 14 months old and already signing letters. Although she has normal hearing, I believe that the more people she can communicate with the better she will be able to understand our world. She is also being taught Spanish by her mother (my daughter)." -- T. Schmitt, Pittsbugh, PA.

This documentation project follows a baby's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, week by week from gazing at birth to manual babbling, to first words just before the first birthday in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.

The second-year and third-year documentation continues to follow the same child's language and phonological acquisition and literacy development in ASL on a weekly basis from the one-word stage to two-word and multiple utterances.

The documentary continues to follow the same child's ASL language and literacy development on a regular basis from age three to four. It surveys ASL phonological acquisition and more complex utterances.

These posts on ASL-English bilingualism, language acquisition, and bilingual education may be of an interest for parents who raise a bilingual-bimodal child in ASL (or another signed language) and English (or another written and/or spoken language of its respective) as well as informative and educational for ASL specialists, educators, and professionals.