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Mon, May 23


Online Event

Using American Sign Language & Other Multisensory Communication Skills to Improve Outcomes with System Involved Youth

Shoshana Phoenixx

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Using American Sign Language & Other Multisensory Communication Skills to Improve Outcomes with System Involved Youth
Using American Sign Language & Other Multisensory Communication Skills to Improve Outcomes with System Involved Youth

Time & Location

May 23, 2022, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM PDT

Online Event

About the Event

Shoshana Phoenixx

Training Description

Trauma and life disruption, as well as anxiety, depression and changing adult guardians takes a toll on system involved youth in many ways. In addition, some of these youth have developmental, physiologic and environmental disabilities that can dramatically affect their capacity to safely identify and express their needs and participate in conversations and planning for their future. Learning some basics about American Sign Language (ASL) from a late deafened adult provides an insight to the basics of one method of non-verbal communication. We will explore and develop skills in utilizing a few useful ASL signs, and other paralinguistic drama exercises to foster a wide range of possibilities and freedoms for system involved youth to convey their plans, desires and feelings.

Learning Objectives

During this session, participants will

● Learn how to identify and accommodate the unique needs and communication challenges of system involved youth and/or their families

● Learn the basic principles and practices of communicating with ASL

● Explore cultural styles of communication

● Develop strategies for structuring and engaging multisensory modalities for communication with system involved youth and their families


10:00am -10:30am  Instructor and Group introduces selves and discuss positive and negative experiences with drawing out meaningful communication from low and nonverbal youth

10:30am – 11:30am  Teaching: A brief introduction of the history and culture of American Sign Language followed by some creative, culturally-based and ability-based modifications that can be made to these language systems to help expand the potential for relationship building through these communication approaches and their unique qualities that can be modified for youth who are dealing with mental or emotional disabilities; developmental disability; trauma and abuse histories.

11:30am -12:15pm  Small group activity: didactic practice teaching and using ASL basics correctly- shape, palm orientation, movement, location and expression/intensity and combining time, exploring classifiers used for meaning

12:15pm -12:45pm  Lunch Break (CEUs will not be offered for this time)

12:45pm -1:45pm  Large group Discussion: of cultural styles of communication including masking and code switching used in families, peer groups, school and the differences in cultural styles of communication used in diverse communities

1:45pm -2:15pm  Teaching: Understanding speech and language disabilities including dispraxia, cleft palate, facial disfigurements, surgical and their communication challenges and strategies.

2:15pm -2:45pm  Final questions, reflections and group appreciations ritual

2:45pm-3:00pm  Evaluations

Meet Our Trainer

“We can create together. We can heal together. We can mark the moments of ritual together. May the work of our hearts and hands speak together the truth of our lives.”

Shoshana has been working with communities and professional caregivers educating and training on the issues and challenges around progressive illness, trauma, death and bereavement for families for over 40 years. In that work she has supported people in many ways and forms as they experience illness, grief, healing, recovery, and transformation.

She began her grief and loss professional journey during the illness and death of both of her parents when she was a teenager. She subsequently served a residency in Berkeley to become an interfaith chaplain and now describes herself as “a Jewish chaplain, who works from an interfaith perspective”.

She has trained, counselled, and supported adults and children dealing with terminal illnesses, (and students/volunteers wanting to learn) using art modalities and non-traditional approaches. Shoshana developed her skills in ASL after meeting a deaf friend 30 years ago. She herself became late-deafened at the age of 40 and has identified as being a part of the Deaf community ever since.

The thread that stitches together all the pieces of her work life is care, compassion and comfort for suffering people who find themselves outside the system of norms in American mainstream culture.

As a person who has lived outside those norms all her life, Mama Shoshana says with conviction, “We have our unconventional ways, and I am here to tell you that they are valid. There are many roads up this mountain called life, and we survive the unimaginable by stitching together all that we learn from one another.”

Shoshana has developed a range of learning interventions and activities including:

★ Developing an ethical will

★ Developing a "spiritual toolbox" for journeying through life's deepest challenges,

★ Bereavement training programs for social workers, care aides, case managers and paraprofessionals

★ Grief support programs for groups and teams

★ Needs assessment tool for anticipatory grief and loss in clients and families

★ Art-therapy based grief support for children

She is also the author of The Phoenixx Haggadah.

This course meets the qualifications for (4.5) BBS CEUs for LCSWs, LMFTs, LPCCs, and LEPs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences & is provided by Fred Finch Youth Center, CAMFT Provider #045295.

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