Not Enough Parents Are Learning Sign

Not Enough Parents Are Learning How To Communicate With Their Kids

Not enough families are learning how to communicate with their kids.

According to Gallaudet research, 90% of children who are deaf are born into hearing families and of those 90% of hearing parents only 23% of them learn American Sign Language. This leaves 77% of children who are deaf in isolation within their home. Imagine spending every day in your home in silence. Looking around the room and seeing everyone smiling, laughing, crying, angry, but having no understand of why. Imagine not having a way to tell your mom you are hungry or hurting or if you have to use the restroom. Imagine not being able to bond with your siblings because you can’t talk to them.  Children in this situation can feel isolated, frustrated, and often depressed.

This will also result in an academic delay. When a child who has never been exposed to language arrives in the school system it is the first time they are exposed to any language. They have to start with the basics; the alphabet, colors, numbers and just understanding that everything around them has a name, even they do!  It takes them years to catch up on basic language skills so these children spend most of their time academically behind and often have to repeat early grade levels for their basic language skills to develop.

So why do many parents not learn sign language? Often it is a matter of resources, time, money, or parents feeling overwhelmed with learning a new language. It’s not that they don’t want to learn, it’s just difficult to figure out where to begin.

However, these days there are plenty of resources that are available and free.  There are organization that teach sign language classes to parents, computer classes, and even phone apps. Here is a list of wonderful resources to help parents not only learn sign language but connect with the deaf community!


STARS- In-home sign language classes for parents.

Bridges-Free sign classes for parents of deaf children, interpreting services, case management for deaf, youth program for deaf and hard of hearing children, events.

Hands and Voices– Support group for parents who have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing

Gate Communications– Sign language classes, interpreting services, events, workshops

Library Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing-Sign language books, videos and other resources. Click on “connect’ for a full list of resources.

Online resources:

STARS Deaf Teaching Hearing Series

Phone APPS for Iphone and Droid-


Sign Language dictionary ($4.99)

The ASL App

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Reflections on Random Acts of Kindness


Reflections on Random Acts of Kindness

So, what is Random Acts of Kindness, better known to me as “RAK”?

A little bit about Random Acts of Kindness 

It is an unplanned act whose goal is to bring kindness and spread kindness to those we know and those we do not know. It’s a practice that offers hope to unsuspecting people to provide a ray of light in someone’s life. It brings a smile to a frown; it can create a positive emotion when none was expected; it can be the beginning of a new start; and it has the capability to change how we treat one another.

I’ve been fortunate to witness “RAK” first hand many times. However, I know my experience is not the norm.

The first thing to understand about RAK is that it can’t be about you, it is about bringing joy to others.

Random Acts of Kindness in Action

Let me share a great example: Last week, while doing a presentation to middle & high school students from three surrounding counties, a powerful RAK showed up.

It wasn’t planned. It just happened.

So, here’s a little backstory, a student bravely shared how she is being bullied at her current school. She shared how challenging everyday life can be without a friend to sit with or talk to and how painful it is to not have someone to support you. She courageously explained how being different than the status quo makes her a target. She shared how a friendly smile, a hug, or compliment could brightness someone’s day.

The beauty of what we do at STARS, and with the MOVE2STAND training, is that we can be the nudge, the voice that says “take some sort of action to be of support to someone else.”

When young people or adults decide they want to support positive change, incredible acts of courage and kindness occur.

As facilitators, we often don’t get to see all the change that comes from our work. We know the seeds have been planted and, with a little sun light and water, the message will grow.

In this case, only hours after leaving the training, I received a picture from a teacher stating, “Today was a wake-up call for them, an eye opening experience for many and that they could and needed to do more”.

The teacher shared with me during our last break, one student from another school went up to the student who is isolated and being bullied, reached out to her to give her that friendly smile, that hug and that compliment she needed so much. I found out they exchanged numbers and have begun a new friendship.

There is comfort knowing, in the words of the Archbishop Oscar Romero Prayer, “We can’t do everything and there is a sense of liberation in that but we can all do something.”

My challenge to everyone reading this is to do “something” that brings joy and kindness to others.

Looking for some inspiration?
Here’s a few of my favorite RAK caught in action.

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Scientists prove it, there are benefits to being kind.

Scientists prove it. There are benefits to being kind. 

At STARS, we believe it doesn’t cost anything to be kind towards our fellow human brothers and sisters. According to research, it is scientifically proven there are benefits to being kind!! 

What’s the benefits?

Kindness Increases:

  • The Love Hormone
  • Energy
  • Happiness
  • Lifespan
  • Pleasure
  • Serotonin

Kindness Decreases:

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Blood Pressure

STARS Student Assistance Program Counselors provide a myriad of school-wide activities throughout the school year to promote kindness and encourages young people to be kind to one another. Hear from a few of them how they are promoting kindness!

What are a few ways you are encouraging your kids to be kind? What are ways you as an individual are being kind and setting a good example for future generations?

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What You Need to Know After Treatment of Addiction


Addiction does not just disappear when treatment ends.

I have had the privilege to witness many newly released clients from substance abuse treatment facilities. Usually they will step down to an intensive outpatient treatment facility. At the time of their release, many clients are excited. They sound extremely positive, with a positive outlook on life. Most feel it is one of the greatest days of their life. It is a “high” (albeit non-substance induced). Nevertheless, it can be described as a “high”.

For many, they have just abstained from their drug or drugs of choice for a significant amount of time. The fog of their addiction at that time is lifting. They are no longer speaking, acting, or behaving under the influence of their drug of choice. In addition, while in treatment, they were given a variety of tools to aid them in their recovery. For some, this involved 12-steps programs of recovery, mindfulness meditation, individual, and group therapy. The deluge of information, as well as personal care,can be helpful to the client. Not to mention the escape from their previous setting; a setting that involves family and life stressors along with negative peers who encourage substance abuse. All in all, life is good.

However, when consistency does not occur, the aforementioned reasons for success within an inpatient facility can be the biggest precursor to a RELAPSE.

What am I saying? Most people don’t leave treatment and return to a different setting. Primarily, they enter the same situation that they left upon their treatment admittance. Yes, they are armed with different tools and resources. However, their time is cut short. They have more responsibilities. They have to work. For some, they have children, or other responsibilities that need attention. Time for meetings or self-care begins to become scarce. Triggers from previous substance abuse begins to becomes more evident. At that point, it may be only a matter of time before a relapse happens. This is not a blog meant to scare but to inform.

Relapse prevention is possible! It requires real attention, energy, and planning. The more a client can plan after treatment the better. The more a client’s social support system is involved with their recovery the better. There is strength in numbers and the more help a client has to fight the disease of addiction the better. Just because treatment has ended does not mean the steps end. We have to work the steps every single day. While relapse can happen, it is important to remember to keep working the steps.

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How Can Parents Address Name-Calling?

How Can Parents Address Name-Calling?

Two common questions we’re asked is how are we addressing name-calling and what can parents do to help?

Kids on the Block is addressing the problem of Name Calling with their “Teasing and Name Calling” presentation for kindergarten and first grade students. The students are shown a scenario where the puppet kids are struggling with teasing. As a result, the kids learn a few ways to respond if they ever find themselves being teased.

Most importantly, the students have the chance to interact and empathize with the puppets during the show. Afterwards, the students are encouraged to discuss the consequences and negative feelings caused by name calling. Ultimately, Kids on the Block challenges the students to seek out others and say nice encouraging things to spread positivity around the school.

Tips for Parents and Teachers:

  • Encourage your child to complete the Kids on the Block activity sheet.
  • Work together with your child to come up with new ways to respond to teasing and name calling.
  • Talk with your child about the consequences of teasing versus saying nice things to one another.

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