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I call it Penny’s “Helen Keller moment.”
Remember the scene from The Miracle Worker where Helen Keller understands for the first time that every word has a sign? That language is available to her, and that she can understand and be understood?
For us, it happened when Penny was 15-months old. We’d been working on sign language for months at that point, and she had picked up a few signs through countless repetition. “Food.” “Drink.” “More.” But that day, it was raining outside. A torrential rain, drumming on the slate roof and pooling on the ground. I held her on my hip as we looked out the window. I pointed and said, “Look, Penny, rain.” I wiggled my fingers through the air. She looked outside, looked at me, and signed “rain.” And then I pointed to the big tree. “Look, Penny, tree.” And I signed tree. Again, she looked outside, looked at me, and signed “tree” in a response. Within a month, she had fifty signs and was eager for more. Something had clicked.