This is A-Paw. She is hearing impaired. When we first arrived in the village three years ago, she was an outgoing, playful little four year old who had no idea that there was any difference between her and her friends. Unfortunately, without any exposure to sign language, in the past three years we've seen her eyes glaze over and her temper flare more and more often as she realizes that she doesn't really understand what's going on around her and that she can't adequately communicate her own wants and needs.
After visiting us last fall, our good friend John really wanted to help A-paw and her family, so he donated the first six DVDs in the Signing Time Series. Now that we have our new house built, we've brought up an old TV and started showing the series once a week to anyone that wants to come! A-Paw is a brilliant little girl and, after only a few lessons, has most of the words memorized. We're hoping that this, admittedly limited, exposure to ASL (although slightly different from Thai Sign Language) will give her a bit of an advantage should she ever end up at a school for the hearing impaired. If nothing else, we hope that she can have a few more words with which to communicate with her family and friends.
The added benefit of the Signing Time series is that it's a great way for the hearing kids to learn a bit of English. Our village has been nagging us to teach English ever since we've arrived, but we've been reticent to start official lessons, knowing that most of the kids in our village go to Thai school all day, and then head off to Chinese language school for three hours every evening. We just couldn't imagine that they would have any time or brain power left to sit through another lesson! Luckily, Signing Time seems to be a great solution because it makes learning fun! It uses songs and great visual footage to help the kids remember each new word, not to mention the, signs themselves, which are so intuitive and help the memory as well!