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Five-year-old Natalie and her sister 21-month-old Madelyn’s parents come from families with a history of deafness. It is hereditary on both sides so it was no surprise when both girls were born deaf.

Natalie enjoys drawing, playing with princess Lego pieces, swimming and playing with her friends.  She said she's good at drawing and learning.  When she grows up she wants to be an artist or a teacher.

Madelyn loves airplanes, swinging on the swing set, purses, lipstick and her big sister.

We loved getting to know you, Natalie and Madelyn!!
Family Spotlight
Alicia and Frank Griffin are Natalie and Madelyn's parents.  They graciously agreed to share more about their family with us and their journey as parents who are deaf raising children who are deaf.  We asked them about using ASL, whether or not they considered cochlear implants for their girls and about the Deaf community in North Carolina.  Thank you, Alicia and Frank!

My husband and I come from families where being Deaf is hereditary.  So it wasn't a surprise for us when our children were identified as being Deaf too. We were actually thrilled because being Deaf is very important thing to us -- we see it as a wonderful way of being, which isn't usually the norm for nearly everyone else. It's been such a wonderful journey seeing both our girls grow up together, despite being nearly 4 years apart in age. Every day is quite an adventure for us. We're constantly surprised at how quickly our daughters acquire American Sign Language (ASL), which is the language we use in our home and mostly everywhere else. Challenges we've continuously faced are misunderstandings or lack of awareness from people who aren't familiar with Deaf people and our culture. When people pass us by and make comments to our children, they're puzzled when they don't respond back and we let them know that they use ASL and they're Deaf, the response we always get is, "Oh, no! We're so sorry ..."  It has also been challenging ensuring 100% language access in educational settings.  BEGINNINGS -- specifically Terri -- has been helpful in working with us as an advocate and providing us with information and resources.  

My husband and I have used ASL since birth.  We're both very successful bilinguals, and by that I mean we're fluent in ASL and written English.  This was accomplished mainly because of our early exposure to ASL (again, from birth).  Having a strong foundation in your native language allows for much easier acquisition of second languages.  Natalie is starting to learn to read now and we do show Natalie what individual words are in books that we read, however, when we read the book as a whole, we still use ASL.   

Discussing cochlear implants is often a difficult topic for members of Deaf community, especially Deaf parents with Deaf children because of a very long history of oppression of signed languages.  When Frank and I discussed implants being options for our children, and they were indeed options, we discussed the pros and cons of each decision, whether to or to not get implants.  We finally came to this point where we agreed on a message we'd be sending our children -- on whether we wanted them to be molded by what would be deemed "normal" by society or to behold our children for who they are.  They are beautiful girls, they are absolutely brilliant and they bring so much joy in our lives every day.  We decided that by "beholding" them as opposed to "molding" them, we see them as the people they already are. We don't see them as being broken, or needing assistance, or being "different" despite what society might tell us.  Being who they are, they will be successful in whatever they do.    

We're fortunate to live in a community (Greensboro) that has a very vibrant Deaf community.  We have many groups (community and business organizations) that host events, opportunities for Deaf people to gather.  Greensboro also has many families with children who are the same age as Natalie and Madelyn.  These children also know sign language, having Deaf parents.  We are always hoping to see more Deaf children who sign in these parts for Natalie and Madelyn.  
We love it when families share success stories with us.  If you would like to share your child's and/or family's story please contact Georganne Sanders at
You can help us continue to ensure positive outcomes for children like Natalie and Madelyn by donating at or by clicking the button below. 
News & Research
Groundwork for speech formed early in life

A recent study of babies ages 7 to 11-months-old showed speech sounds trigger the areas of the brain associated with the coordination and planning of motor movements for speech.  The research indicates that infant’s brains lay the “groundwork of how to form words long before they actually begin to speak.”  Read more here.
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Why We Walk
I walk because I support organizations like BEGINNINGS who assist families who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing. In May 2012, my daughter, Danie, was diagnosed with meningitis and after a few short months she lost her hearing in both ears. Fortunately, she was able to receive cochlear implants in 2012. My 3-year-old daughter is progressing but still delayed in language development. From sending emails and calling to check on me and my daughter, to attending IEP sessions, BEGINNINGS has been there. I am very grateful for BEGINNINGS because I do not feel alone when advocating for my daughter.

Please join the "BEGINNINGS Brings It On" team and share with your family, friends, business associates and community members. Let them know why you are walking and ask them to support the BEGINNINGS team too!

Destinee Tate
for all ages
Lynne H. Price NBCT
Self-advocacy, by definition, is “representing oneself or one's views or interests.” In relation to hearing, it is getting support to access information and improve communication. This support can be a seat away from the kitchen in a restaurant, a copy of notes for class, or asking a person to repeat something that was not clear.  Self-advocacy develops as a child grows. Think of these steps as a path to successful self-advocacy.
Give little ones a choice.  Have them pick between two good options.
“Do you want juice or milk?”  “Do you want to wear the blue top or the green top?”
Choosing helps the young child be part of the decision-making process. Choosing helps the child listen for key words in a sentence. Choosing focuses the child’s attention. Choosing helps the child think about what is needed or wanted in a situation.
Prepare school-age children for questions.  Grade-school children will ask a lot of questions.
“What’s that in your ear?”   “Why do you have that thing (amplification) on your head?”
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing need to be able to explain to others their technology. They need to feel comfortable with the attention and see it as curiosity on the part of others and not as criticism. Parents can help this feeling of comfort by making the technology part of everyday life. Using technology is like wearing clothes. We wear it all the time, except for in the tub. Parents can talk openly about the technology to teach words and phrases. Parents can let the child explain the technology to new people.
Older children need lots of experience.  Every new situation presents different needs to support access and improve communication.  Parents can help their child see the difference by rating the situation.
“On a scale of 1-10, was the restaurant good for listening or bad?  Why?”
“Would you give the park a √+, √, or √- for hearing?  Why?”
Rating and determining what makes a situation a good listening environment help the child recognize things about a location and themselves that influence access. Maybe the child is tired and paying attention is hard. Maybe the room is big and empty and voices are hard to hear. Maybe the experience is new and the child does not know what to do. By knowing what makes listening easy or hard, the child can predict what needs to be changed to make it better. Self-advocacy starts with predicting needs for any situation.
Parents of teenagers need to “think out loud.” Self-advocacy is a decision based on the location, the needs of the individual, and the activity. Decision-making is a process. Children need to hear how adults go through the process of making a decision. Instead of saying, “We will stop at McDonald’s on the way to swim practice,” say,
“You have swim practice today after school. I have one hour to drive across town to practice. You need to eat before practice. We do not have time to go home and eat or go to a sit down restaurant. McDonald’s is on the road to practice.” 
By voicing the process, the child understands many factors are part of making a decision. The child also sees that decisions require planning and are based on previous experiences. This "thinking out loud" gives the child examples of how to solve problems and plan. These skills can then be put to use when advocating for better access and communication.
A child who is comfortable making choices, talking about needs, and going through the decision-making process will become a strong self-advocate.

Lynne H. Price is a teacher with 37 years experience and the author of Steps to Success, a scope and sequence for developing self-advocacy skills, and COACHing, Successful Transition and Functional Skills Development.  She speaks across the country on literacy, advocacy and teacher support.
Hunter's back to school self-advocacy
Sixteen-year-old Hunter's hearing loss was identified last spring. He decided to create a PowerPoint to share with his teachers as he started school this year to explain his hearing loss and provide suggestions for how to help him in the classroom. Hunter shares more with us about why he made the PowerPoint, and how he decided what to include.

My name is Hunter Miller and I have just started my junior year of High School.  I was identified as being hard of hearing towards the end of last school year.  My teachers seemed unwilling to accommodate my needs or maybe they just didn’t understand what I needed since they had seen me in the class room for several weeks already.   So, at the suggestion of my parent educator from BEGINNINGS (Mrs. Megan Pender) my dad and I made a PowerPoint to introduce myself to my teachers before school started this year.

In the PowerPoint I tried to let my new teachers know that I am just a regular high school kid, except that I just don’t hear as well as my classmates.  I wanted to let them know that some of my behaviors (such as constantly saying “huh?” or “what?”)  are because I legitimately did not hear them, not because I wasn’t paying attention.    I also tried to let them know some ways they can help me in the classroom such as speaking slower, facing me when they are speaking, etc.

My family and I have found a lot of great information on the web and through BEGINNINGS and the local Deaf community to help me and those around me.
BEGINNINGS is a 501(c)(3) which supports parents of children who have hearing loss (ages birth to 22) by providing impartial information about communication options, emotional support and technical assistance as they make decisions for their child and family. BEGINNINGS provides support to the professionals who serve these families, deaf parents of hearing children and works to educate all parents and children about the importance of hearing loss prevention.
Copyright © *2014* *BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, INC.*, All rights reserved.

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