Living deaf, not different: Amy Caslow

Sierra Hippel, Distribution Reporter

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The natural noise of birds singing in the park and cars passing by on the road are silent. Out in public people may stare and ask awkward questions as they walk by or start conversation. Growing up is not the same for all children. Life throws surprises that many may not see coming, but even though it may not be expected, it can always be pushed through. A normal little boy continues to live his life no different, as he will not let any of these things control him.

Asher Jamison, who goes by the name of AJ, is the nine year old deaf son of American Sign Language teacher Amy Caslow. Caslow started learning ASL right before her son turned two years old. Later, she decided to take sign language at the St. Paul College just to simply have the language, but later got convinced to be an interpreter for deaf, deaf/blind and hard of hearing people. She ended up getting her degree so she could do that.

Later on, she was recruited to Stillwater Area High School as a teacher for ASL teacher. She had never taught before, and came into the school as a community expert. She has been teacher ASL for two years.

Hearing loss affects about five out of every 1,000 newborns. Raising a deaf son can be different than raising a son who is not, but it does not mean that he, or any child who is deaf, is different than any other  boy or girl. Caslow’s son enjoys the same fun things that all little boys do. He was just a newborn when they found out he was deaf.

“My son may wear hearing aids, but your kid probably wears glasses, and just because your kid wears glasses, people don’t think of your child any differently, nor should they,” Caslow said.

AJ can not hear sounds that come natural to most. For example, he can not hear cars coming down the street or birds chirping. It may be a lot of people’s reality, but it is not his. Being so young and being able to learn a different language than most people, while having the capacity to adjust differently to natural things in life can be inspiring. Parents everywhere guide their children through these types of changes.

It’s been a challenge raising a deaf son at times, but it’s also been an adventure. You don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it.”

— Amy Caslow

“The challenging part is learning to become a strong advocate for your child to make sure that they have equal access, and that all their needs are being met socially, emotionally, educationally and so forth,” Caslow said.

“My son inspires me because he doesn’t think he is any different. He thinks he’s the same as anybody else. He thinks he can do anything anybody else does, and I continue to encourage and empower him to do it,” Caslow added.

Caslow started teaching ASL simply because she loves the language. She was happy when she found out the school used the same curriculum she had used to learn the language on, since she was already familiar with what to teach. She enjoys being able to teach ASL and loves the job.

The best part about her job is, “my students,” Caslow said.

“I am very involved in the community and am invested in the culture, so I chose to pursue it. Plus, it’s a great job,” Caslow added.

Caslow’s students really benefit through her class and her teaching. They also benefit learning new culture, and the way people live differently. One of her students is senior John Finney. Finney feels Caslow connects well with her students and that she makes sure everyone can understand. Sophomore Keelin McAllister enjoys the class and the aspect of learning a new culture and language.

“You don’t really think about the struggles that other people go through until you experience them,” Finney said.

McAllister went to a deaf event for an assignment for the class and said, “It was really hard to understand if you don’t know a lot. It’s really hard to imagine yourself not being able to hear,” McAllister said.

Students really enjoy ASL, and Caslow enjoys teaching it. She will continue to raise her son and raise him as if he was no different, because the truth is, he is no different.

“It’s been a challenge raising a deaf son at times, but it’s also been an adventure. You don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it,” Caslow said.

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