It’s been five years since we found out that SJ was deaf.
5 years of trying to unlock a world of communication for her.
5 years of moving our family from house to house to get to a place that would have the resources that she needs.
5 years of aiming to balance a fulfilling childhood with the ground work for unlimited options.
Before SJ was even officially diagnosed I longed to be able to speak with her. I didn’t care how, but I wanted to be able to love her and teach her through words and for her to express her thoughts to me as well. I wondered what was going on in her mind. She was clearly an intelligent, independent thinker, but she had no words to piece together.
Having no time to loose I scraped together every resource I could find on ASL. That’s when I met a lady who is an ASL teacher from Denton Texas and she recommended the show Switched at Birth.
I found it on Netflix and binge watched all of season one (which was all there was at the time). I could watch deaf actors and hearing actors sign in a comprehensive way that was easy to follow. I would pause and repeat scenes until I was able to understand the signs without reading the subtitles. Eventually I could see exactly what they were signing and why they used certain signs even when it wasn’t a direct translation of the audible script. This show was an answer to prayer for me.
There were a lot of cheesy or even frustrating story lines along the way, but I craved the sign language and Switched at Birth met that need. The show was obviously dwindling down a while ago, but then last year they officially announced the final season. I watched the final episode to get my ASL fix and was completely unprepared for how it would affect me.
The first scene was with the two moms, Katherine and Regina.
Regina: Do you realize it’s been five years since the switched was discovered and we met?
Katherine: No. Has it been five years?
Regina: Mmm hmm.
Then Regina talks about how much everything has changed and announces that she is going to move out.
Katheryn says No.
Thanks a lot for leaving out the trigger warning Freeform! Of course I’m joking. This would mean nothing to most viewers (other than getting a little teary eyed about their favorite teen drama), but it represented so much for me! That’s when I realized it was May of 2012, the day of the Kentucky Derby in Lousiville Kentucky that SJ was diagnosed, exactly 5 years ago.
5 seasons of Switched at Birth is so much more than just five years of watching a show. It’s been a huge part of my new life as a mother to a deaf child. So when the characters say that so much has changed and that it is time to move on it touches a nerve.
As you know we just recently moved and in just a few months SJ will begin her final year at her deaf school. It’s a big season of closure and I am feeling all the feels. So to have closure with this show as well just seems too perfect.
In one scene they show flashbacks from season one and Emmet tells Bay that it is “the end of an era”. I know this is ridiculous, but it’s almost like God put this show in front of me for the exact time that I needed it and now I don’t need it anymore because this battle to give SJ a language is ending. We did it! She can communicate now! We are just tying up a few loose ends over the next year before she spreads her little wings. No, she’s not going to college, but close enough.
I remember when SJ said her first word. She was three years old and we were living in my brother’s basement. She wanted to go upstairs and said “up”.
I remember the Christmas that she was finally able to say words like gloves, snowman, and angel.
I remember when she said I paint pumpkin and I was thrilled that I could hear a little about what her day was like.
I remember when she said In 2018 I will graduate and then I will go to my new school. That was a couple weeks ago. Each passing milestone has brought tears to my eyes because what may be a routine achievement for some is a major victory for us.
Switched at birth was a major stepping stone for me in learning a second language which helped my daughter learn a first language, and for that reason Switched at Birth will always hold a special place in my heart.