Local News

Sisters Develop Video To Help Sons Communicate

Posted December 5, 2003

— A labor of love for two Wake County mothers is now opening the doors of communication for families across the country.

Barbara Germiller and Dawn Dolson are sisters who each have a special-needs son. Jessie and Nathaniel both have physical and mental disabilities.

The women rely on each other for support.

"It's really nice that there's someone that truly understands," Germiller said.

Not too long ago, neither mother could understand their son.

"Night after night, I would just be almost in tears wondering 'Why is he crying? What does he need?'" Dolson said.

A therapist suggested sign-language classes.

When they could not find a teaching video to suit their needs, the sisters came up with their own. "Talking Hands" is a sign-language video to teach children simple, one-word commands.

"Drink, sick, tired, potty. Cookie was a real big one for Jess," Dolson said.

And the words keep coming. Nathaniel uses sign language to talk to his mother. Jessie now signs two- and three-word sentences.

"The words that he said first were the ones he learned to sign," Dolson said.

Special-needs schools and therapists are using the tape, which is also being sold in stores. It is something the sisters never imagined.

"If one person says, 'I can understand my kid,' -- that was the whole purpose," Dolson said.

"For me, it was just so exciting to be able to do this project and know we might be helping somebody else down the road," Germiller said.

The sisters used several family members in the tape. A producer and a speech pathologist helped them make their idea come to life.


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