the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Tag: deaf

..and the deaf will hear...

Many of you are familiar with the story of the two deaf children who live in our village. Those of you who have not heard this story, read a post here or here to fill yourself in. Anyone who has visited our village knows A-Paw, 8, is the younger of the two siblings. She is a beautiful and truly remarkable child. She is so smart and has a personality that just lights up a room. Her older brother, A-Wa, 15, is a handsome young man with a lot of confidence and potential, as well as a certain knack for getting into mischief.

Unlike many deaf children in America, these two have very little opportunity for "success". Without any method of communication (they have had very little exposure to sign language) they have no opportunity to succeed in school (the Thai / modern definition of success) and very little opportunity to find someone to marry (the Akha / premodern definition of success).

The, in June 2009, we were honored and blessed to host Kristin & Dave - who came halfway around the world just to be a blessing to this family. Kristin is an audiologist and is currently working for the Denver Public School system. They not only brought the expertise to diagnose these kids, but they also brought first class equipment and top of the line hearing aids which had been donated to give to this family!

It was an extraordinary experience to see these two children hear for the first time ever. Both children have very minimal hearing, so much so that if you were standing right next to them, yelling their names... they wouldn't hear you. But with the hearing aids they could hear even quietly spoken words!

After being fitted with her aids, we "spied" on A-paw as she was tried them out on the real world. She went outside, and was standing 50 meters from some of her friends who were playing with a bamboo stick by hitting it on the ground. As she heard the hollow, echoing sound of bamboo floating across the distance, her eyes grew wide and she looked back at us in amazement as if to say "Hey... that makes an incredible sound!"

We are so grateful for the opportunity that has been given to these kids. We know that the path will not be an easy one, as special needs education cases are largely ignored in rural Thailand. Also adding to the difficulty is the significant cultural and emotional adjustment as a child goes from a silent world to an audible one. We are hoping to get them some speech therapy (we might even do it ourselves if need be!) and help them to catch up in school, but these things will take time and patience.

Through this experience, however, we are again reminded and awestruck by the way our God lavishes his love upon the poor and the needy.

A-paw's hearing test,'Raise your hand when you hear the sound.'A-wa's new hearing aidsFitting A-wa's hearing aidsA-paw trying out the otoscope on her big brotherFitting A-paw's hearing aidsKristen & A-paw just hanging outDinner at A-wa & A-paw's family's house to honor Kristen & DaveGroup Photo: Kristin & Dave, Lori, A-wa & A-paw's Family

Signing Time!


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.

Kids watching Signing Time!

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.

Signing Time notes

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!

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