One Dad’s Journey into Deafness

Posted by Lia Ulrich, Instructor and Clint Carlile, Parent on 9/10/2021 10:15:00 AM

Family Signs instructor, Lia Ulbrich, had the opportunity to sit down with Clint Carlile, a hearing father of a 3 year old son, Waylon, who is deaf. Clint recently graduated from the Family Signs program offered by the Statewide Outreach Center to families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Lia asked him about his journey diving into the world of ASL and raising a child who is deaf.

Caucasian male with long brown beard holding a toddler

Lia Ulbrich: Can you tell me how you found out Waylon was deaf and about the start of your ASL journey?

Clint Carlile: My ASL journey began about two months after Waylon was born. He was having trouble passing the hearing screening at the hospital. Though we were sent home just three days later after being told “sometimes C-section babies have trouble passing the hearing test due to fluid in the ears.” Well, this didn’t sit right with us, so we immediately set up an appointment with an audiologist. When Waylon again did not pass the hearing test, we then set up a second appointment with another audiologist/ENT. Then, we got the news that Waylon was “profoundly deaf.” We immediately jumped into action and began our research and hunt for resources and dove in to learn sign language.

Lia: So literally from the day of the diagnosis, you started your journey?

Clint: Yes, we started our research immediately.

Lia: How has Family Signs impacted your family?

Clint: Family Signs has made a HUGE impact on me and my family. There are a LOT of resources online, but it makes such a difference to have a teacher to interact with on the other side of a Zoom meeting. Lia was able to teach us and answer all the questions one might have as a person entering the world of sign language and deaf culture for the first time.

Lia: What would you like to tell other dads about learning ASL? Or about raising a child who is deaf?

Clint: Learning ASL is definitely a challenge but I believe anyone can learn over time. Also, don’t get overwhelmed thinking you have to be fluent in sign language on day one. You’ll be growing and learning with your child. The most important part is that you are able to communicate with your child. If you’re concerned about raising a deaf child, don’t be, they can do anything any other child can do except hear. Also, you get the privilege of being a part of this amazing deaf community.

Lia: Since graduating from Family Signs, what do you plan to do next to continue your ASL learning?                      

Clint: There are so many resources online now and we live in the best time for technology, so I’ll definitely be online looking to continue my education in ASL. I think one of the best things I can do is go to meetings, gatherings and retreats - anything that will allow me to practice my signing skills. I have found the best way to practice is with another deaf person. They are always willing to help someone learn and practice their ASL. 

Lia: Have you attended Family Weekend Retreat (FWR)? Or will you be attending Family Weekend Retreat?

Caucasian male with long brown beard on screen with a Caucasian female signing father

Clint: We did attend FWR in 2018 right after Waylon was born. He was only a few months old at the time, but it was so great to be around other people who were in the same boat as us. FWR was able to answer all our questions and it was wonderful to be able to see deaf kids of all ages just being kids. It really helped put our minds at ease.

Lia: Have you attended Communications Skills Workshop (CSW)?

Clint: Yes, I have been to the workshops and they are an amazing resource. It’s a great place to go to get a ton of information, resources, and signing practice.

Lia: If you could go back and give “Clint on day 1 of diagnosis” any advice, what would you say/do?

Clint: I’d say take a deep breath, you got this. Then I would contact the nearest deaf school/community and reach out and start asking questions.

Lia: Thank you, Clint, for taking the time to talk with me. Sounds like you and Waylon are doing amazingly well. Continue doing what you’re doing. Best of luck and please keep in touch!

Clint: Thank you again Lia for all you’ve done with Family Signs…I definitely will!