Aileen has been using (Auslan) Australian Sign Language since the beginning of 1991 when she originally started to learn it for interpreter work.
Aileen fell pregnant half-way through the course and had twins. Little beknown to her at the time, she soon discovered that sign language would be the primary form of communication for one of the twins, Elysha, who was born with Down Syndrome.
Sign language has been fantastic for Elysha, particulary as a bridging language. Spoken language is her first language but due to her hearing loss and problems with being understood, sign language has been a life saver for the whole family.
Aileen completed my studies and found a huge need for basic sign language classes in the special needs area. Helping parents, carers and professionals to learn a basic amount of sign language to make communication with a child or adult that has little or no spoken language possible quickly became a passion. She started teaching in 1996 and truly enjoys travelling around the country meeting and helping people.
She does regular guest speaking roles at conferences and in-services, either on the use of sign language as an augmentative (supplementary) form of communication, teaching sign language and its benefits or speaking of her experiences as a mother of a child with a disability. some of her recent and regular presentations include:
Macquarie University Continuing Education
KU Childrens Services
ECIA – Early Childhood Intervention Asscoiation
Down Syndrome Association of NSW; and
Many NSW based Early Childhood services
Carers Associations, Respite Care services and Schools ( Special Needs and Mainstream)
Nursing Mothers, Mothers groups, parent groups
- Getting the Department of Education to support children with speech and/or developmental delay with sign language is probably her strongest passion. Since Elysha first started at Primary School and then onto High school Aileen has lobbied to get the best type of education possible for Elysha supported by both verbal and sign language while also taking into account her developmental delay. This has been achieved by hard work, speaking with other parents and standing up for her daughters rights.
Aileen is involved with Makaton Australia as a member of the NSW Committee, Editor of the NSW newsletter and a Makaton Presenter. Aileen’s main focus is on raising awareness of Australias resources. As a result of her role with Makaton australia she has also written and co-authored several books:
“Makaton Vocabulary” (Auslan Edition)
“Key Sign” a supplement to the Makaton Vocabulary
Along with her Makaton Australia publications, Aileen has written several other books. “Tiny Hands” Australian Sign Language for Babies to Toddlers Book with over 230 everyday signs and “Sing and Sign With Me” Book illustrating the please and beauty of combining sign language with songs in a simple to follow format. The “Small Talk” Instant Reference Chart (to be renamed “Tiny Hands” on next reprint) with 45 of the most commonly used baby signs on it.
Aileen is currently working on drawing more graphics for use in projects for use by Hands Can Talk and external organisations.
For further information about anything of interest About Aileen or if you have any suggestions for other resources that might be of interest, please email Aileen at firstname.lastname@example.org.