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Little ACEs

Advocacy  *  Community  *  Empowerment

Little ACEs is an early intervention program designed to prevent the language deprivation that can be common for Deaf children, ensuring they have access to American Sign Language from birth. ACEs stands for Advocacy, Community, and Empowerment, and it's an answer to the ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) model that demonstrates poor outcomes for adults who experienced two or more "ACEs" in childhood, outcomes that parallel children who experience language deprivation. Whether a family has a child who is hard of hearing, chooses cultural Deafness, or chooses a cochlear implant, American Sign Language is important, respecting the child's identity and native language, creating options for communication throughout life, giving access to culture and community, and preventing language deprivation. ASL even supports the development of spoken language and the acquisition of English.

Parents and children meet weekly with a Deaf Mentor in their homes, in our offices, or via Zoom. We support learning language, culture, bonding, advocacy, and practical tips. We also have a Parent ASL class each Thursday at 7pm CST night via Zoom and monthly social activities where all the families and can join and a weekly, virtual ASL class just for parents. Little ACEs is free and offered across the state. 

Trilingual Storytime with Frist Art Museum & BridgesTN

Language Deprivation

Almost 95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, and deaf children are the only children in the world born to parents with whom they do not share a first natural language. We understand how overwhelming and frightening that can be, and we understand that parents may mourn hearing loss initially. We support every family's and individual's choice, and in our program, we have children with and without cochlear implants and/or hearing aids. We want families to know that they have choices, choices that likely were not shared with them during a medical diagnosis. We are happy to connect you with families who have made different choices so that you can ask questions and learn from their experiences. Regardless of the path you choose, we are here to support your child and your family, and we do encourage you to give your child the gift of American Sign Language and community. 

Hearing and speaking are tools of a spoken language, but they are not language itself. Hearing loss does not cause language deprivation. Lack of exposure to language does. Educational delays aren't caused by hearing loss. Language deprivation creates those delays. Research now proves that, regardless of choices made about cochlear implants or other assistive devices, American Sign Language helps children develop literacy and even spoken language with more fluency. 

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