Speech Apraxia and the Benefits of Sign Language

Imagine knowing precisely what you want to say, but when you open your mouth, only a garbled fraction of the word comes out - or even worse, something that doesn't resemble what you're trying to say at all. You can't seem to put more than two or three words together and form a sentence. Your parents and friends don't understand what you're saying, and you have no idea why

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Autism and the Benefits of Sign Language

Children diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder frequently have challenges developing vigorous gestural and non-verbal communication. Due to complex challenges in visual, auditory, spatial, and tactile sensory systems, children with speech and communicative disorders, often experience difficulties in grasping a wide range of meanings for concepts and relations expressed through words.

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Aphasia and the Benefits of American Sign Langage

Aphasia and the Benefits of American Sign Language

 

 

Today I wanted to touch on the topic of Aphasia since I personally suffered from it for a little more than a year due to a car accident which I incurred a traumatic brain injury from (TBI).

Loss of words, confusion, scrambled speech, loss of understanding words, slow speech, not being able to formulate a sentence, not wanting to communicate all because it's just too hard. This is what it feels like when one is unexpectedly faced with aphasia.

I felt lost in my words, to say the least, I knew what I wanted to say (verbally) but I was unable to. Even though I was suffering from a severe brain injury I knew that my sign skills would help me through this time, and because of the beautiful nature of sign language and its visual/gestural components, I was still able to communicate throughout that year as I was afflicted with aphasia.

Because, I knew sign language I was able to use this method of communication, when I was struggling using my expressive language, due to suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and sudden hearing loss which I still have today.  

Because of Sign Language, I was able to continue to communicate with my children and some friends who signed as well. It gave me the language that I was missing and the words I just couldn’t say. If you have never experienced a traumatic brain injury it’s hard to comprehend the impact that it has on one’s ability to speak, think, and even sleep.

You see, anyone can experience trauma at any given time, and many of us take our ability to communicate for granted.  What we don’t realize is that any of us can become Deaf, or suffer a traumatic brain injury at any moment. Sign language was the language that allowed me to express myself during a time that I was not able to.

I urge each and every one of you to do your research and learn Sign Language.

For more information on Aphasia and the benefits of using Sign Language please read below.

What is Aphasia?

Aphasia is an impairment of language, disturbing the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to an injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections.

Aphasia can be so severe as to make communication with the individual almost impossible, or it can be very mild. It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, or the ability to put words together into sentences, or the ability to read. More commonly, however, multiple aspects of communication are impaired, while some channels remain accessible for a limited exchange of information.

Benefits of Sign language in terms of Aphasia

The Aphasia treatment most often used with aphasia is speech and language therapy. This can be started as soon as your condition allows it. The therapist will work with you on building and strengthening remaining language abilities and will try to find other means of communication to make up for the abilities that have been lost. This is when sign language becomes a tremendous resource for those suffering from a (TBI).

Since gestures and symbols are stored in a separate part of the brain from language, most can benefit from using sign language as an additional way to communicate. One may feel that they do not have the capabilities to say (verbally speaking) what it is that he or she wants, but using a gesture, or a formal sign, that you will understand to mean "water" will not be as taxing on the individual suffering from aphasia.

Generally, it is encouraged for individuals with aphasia to use gestures and or signs more often. This is because gestures and or signs help the listener understand and better interpret what the individual may be trying to say.

It also has been said that body language helps us to compose language. Sign language can be looked at as a skill set and a benefactor to those who have suffered a (TBI).

  • Signs represent words that one may not remember.
  • Signs can also help clarify what the individual is talking about.
  • Sign Languge can help to cue speech. If an individual is with their SLP the therapist has he or she repeat words while making the sign, it can trigger one's memory.
  • Sign language is a good way to maintain preserved language abilities. If one uses signs while he/she is speaking, those signs may help that individual remember specific words. This keeps the language functions of the brain working and can help strengthen them.

Glossing Basics

 

 

 

Sign language is a visual-gestural language, and ordinarily, you will not see it written, because of the nature of the language. However, sign language can be in a written format, and this is called glossing. Today I will briefly show you how sign language looks when it’s in its written format. Generally speaking, those who use sign language as their (A) language which is known as one's primary language, typically will not write in gloss, they generally write in their (B) language, which is their second language, and that would be their countries native tongue.

Please enjoy!

 

Glossing Basics

Glossing is the written configuration that is used to study American Sign Language.  It is a way of writing exactly what is shown on the hands and face, from the signer. Glossing is used as a means to cite and record individual signs and facial expressions. Glossing is especially useful in grasping how ASL syntax is unique from English syntax.

When glossing, it is imperative to remember the elemental rules.  The utmost rule is the use of capital letters, which denotes the signs that are formed on the hands.  It is significant to mention that when glossing you should not add any extra English words such as, (i.e.: the, a, or, is, and, but, to). Capital letters are gauges of the exact signs being used.  The fact that these are written in all caps signifies the particular signs that are used rather than an English translation of those signs.

Facial Expressions

There are five rudimentary facial expressions that you should become familiar with:  They are as followed, affirmation, negation, yes/no questions, wh- question, and topicalization.  An affirmation is formed by nodding.  An affirmation indicates something that is true or in fact happened. Contrasting an affirmation is negation, which is displayed by a slight shaking of the head (side to side). Negation indicates that something did not happen. The same group of signs, contingent on the facial expressions used, can either specify affirmation or negation.  To show negation, you would create a line above the signed word for the duration of which the negation is fashioned and you would write as followed “neg.” This is the indicator a slight shaking of the head.

The yes/no question specifies that the signer is entreating for more information from the person that they are speaking to. The signer wants clarification if the subject matter is true or false. An individual creates a yes/no question by raising the eyebrows and faintly leaning frontward the person that the question is being asked to. It is noteworthy to mention that leaning frontward is small and not a lean of the body. This is a slight tipping of the head to the person while the eyebrows are raised up. Yes/no questions are glossed by drawing a line and writing a “q” above that line.

Additionally, the wh- facial expression is fashioned by lowering the eyebrows. This is glossed in writing by a wh- above the facial expression line. Occasionally the wh- expression will be throughout the entire question and from time to time it will be formed only at the end of the sentence over the wh- word itself.

Lastly, the topic is glossed with a (T) over the facial expression line. The topic, is formed by raising the eyebrows at the opening of a sentence. A topic can be thought of as a “mini-question” in which you ask the person whom you are talking to.

Below I have included some examples of ASL Gloss.

_______________________aff
BOY UNDERSTAND BOOK

________q
TEST HARD

_____________neg
GIRL DON’T-KNOW

Dialects and Deaf Poetry

This past weekend I was talking with my family about the different dialects of Sign Language. It is a common misconception that Sign Language is universal while the gestural components of Sign Language appear to be the same to onlookers it is quite the contrary. Every country has their own dialects of Sign Language. Cat in American Sign Language is different than cat in British Sign Language(refer to the pictures below for the differential).

While talking about different dialects I came across the website Life and Deaf this website isBritish Sign Language based which is a different dialect from ASL (American Sign Language).

I thought it would be interesting to include a poem that I found which describes what it feels like to be deaf from a child’s perspective. Not only does this website have deaf poetry, but they have a world renowned video featuring their Deaf Poetry Slam.  I would encourage you to check out the website. Reading many of those poems took my breath away; particularly this one. Enjoy.

Powerful Deaf

By: Pedro, Thomas Tallis secondary school, Year 8

 

I WHEN GO HOME

MUM AND DAD SAY “HEARING AIDS ON”.

I DON’T LIKE HEARING AIDS

PEOPLE TALK, TALK, TALK.

I HAVE A HEADACHE LIKE BANGING IN

MY HEAD.

LIKE THE PIPS AT SCHOOL,

IT HURTS.

WHEN HEARING AIDS OFF I FEEL

PEACEFUL, CALM AND RELAXED.

HEARING AIDS ANNOY ME

FEEL WET AND STICKY LIKE A SNAIL WHEN

I PLAY FOOTBALL.

I LIKE SIGN AND SPEAK

SIGN LOOK LIKE BEAUTIFUL DANCE

I LIKE SIGN AND SPEAK.

I LIKE WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

WHEN SLOWLY, SLOWLY, SLOWLY I UNDERSTAND.

I DON’T LIKE FAST SPEAKING

I DON’T UNDERSTAND

SOUNDS LIKE MIXED UP WORDS,

LIKE THE ALPHABET.

I LIKE SIGNING, I CAN SEE THE WORDS.

How to Talk with Your Mouth Full: The Advantages of Learning American Sign Language

I’ve had the pleasure of immersing myself into the deaf community for the past 16 years, and being a hearing women; I would say that I am the happiest when I am signing.  I sign in the car with my favorite tunes blaring as loud as possible, and I’ll call my deaf friends on face time and chit chat with them after a long day, and I know they can always make me laugh or give me some insight. I even have the pleasure of signing with my children- who are not deaf.  I love that I was able to learn this beautiful language and I would encourage you to learn too!

Few would argue against the merits of learning multiple languages. According to Handspeak.com a resource for the Deaf and those interested in the Deaf community, multilingual students and employees excel at a rate far greater than their monolingual peers. What few people realize, however, is that American Sign Language (ASL)—because of its unique gestural structure—presents signers and their communities with additional benefits.

The fact is, ASL is more common than you might think. Handspeak.com, notes that Sign Language is the 8th most used language in the world and it takes a very short time to learn basic communication, just about 10 weeks to be precise. Studies have shown an increase in sales in businesses from having employees that know ASL and knowing the language also increases your marketability as an employee too future employers. Liz Broelli author of Medical Daily Pulse an online medical journal mentions that by learning a second language such as Sign Language it has been proven to improve cognitive functions and it can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.

ASL can help children develop verbal skills. Judy Feekes author of the book Let your Fingers do the Talking says that learning ASL at an early age is beneficial for language and development purposes and it also introduces the language (ASL) at an early age. Sign Language is proven to enhance language development for those who are hearing and a great resource for those who are having trouble with speaking or learning a spoken language.

Most importantly ASL can bridge the gap between hearing communities and deaf culture. Those who are deaf are expected to become oral at an early age to communicate with the hearing population. John Hopkins University records that even the most skilled lip readers can only grasp about 70 percent of the conversation. To break the communication barrier I suggest we learn this beautiful language. If you are hesitating that you may not even remember the essential signs to communicate, not to worry because there is a really great app for the techies out there, it’s called The ASL APP  and it’s free so, now you can have American Sign Language at your fingertips!