Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why Use Sign Language with Babies?

Since I've been brushing up on signing, I thought I'd share my thoughts on signing with babies...

Babies naturally make attempts at communication. Ever see an infant raise his hands to show you he wants to be held or point at something that is out of reach? Using sign language with babies is a way to tap into this natural tendency to communicate needs.

The burning question is, "Doesn't signing keep them from talking?" I have been asked that a lot. Research shows that babies who sign learn to speak at the usual time or SOONER than children who do not sign, and they have larger vocabularies once they begin speaking. Just as a child who starts to crawl becomes more interested in walking; a child who signs becomes more interested in spoken communication. They are excited that someone understands them! The key is to SAY the sign each time you use it so they connect the spoken word to the sign. There are many, many other benefits that come along with signing, but the average child at 12 months can speak up up to 3 words. Signing children at 12 months can usually speak 16 words.

Resource: Cadjan, N. (2007). Baby signing 1, 2, 3. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc.

The goal is not to impress your friends with all that your child can sign or say, but to be better at communicating with your little one. I can remember, when Adam was 9 months old, he was fussing while crawling around on the kitchen floor. I was trying to cook and finally picked him up and in frustration asked, "What do you need?" He quieted down, and signed "milk." Ta-da! Problem solved, and no more whining baby!

Another time, out of the blue, he started crying in the evenings when we laid him down for bed. This was very out of the ordinary for him, and we couldn't figure out what was wrong. Was he teething? Did he have gas? Was he overly tired? There was no way of knowing. One night while being carried to his crib, he signed "eat" to Wes. After a little snack, he was fine and went to bed without fussing. He was probably going through a growth spurt & needed more to eat. How wonderful for all of us that he was able to express that need to us! We may actually need to sign with Levi, since speech delays are a likelihood with children that have Down syndrome. I am thankful our family is already comfortable with the concept of signing. It is something I'd have done with Levi regardless of any special diagnosis. Proving yet again, that he is more like everyone else than he is different.

I really like the website:
There is a video dictionary of signs that is excellent, and these are true ASL (American Sign Language) signs, which I appreciate. If I am going to bother doing this, might as well use signs that are correct and could be understood by others. Who knows, one of my boys could become an interpreter someday.

I'll get off my soapbox now and share some photos. Some fun teachers that work with Wes decorated his office and car last week for a gag, and the boys are still enjoying the balloons.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

By the way, if you have had a hard time posting comments in the past, you may want to try following the blog through "Networked Blogs" by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page. It should be an easy way to get updates on new posts, too. Let me know how it works, and post some comments for me!

Coming article I wrote is about to be published in Lexington Family magazine! I just opened an email with a final draft to proof, with our photos and everything! Wow! I am super-excited about it!


Leah said...

Glad signing has worked so well for your family! Congrats on the article!! Sweet pics of the boys!

Bugg's mama said...

What beautiful boys you have! And such pretty pictures. I'm so happy to see you that you are in such a warm & happy "place" with your special life!

Loves! ~Bree~

Anonymous said...

I wish I'd known about baby signing when my older kids were little, so it's good that you're educating people about the possibilities. And I LOVE the picture of the static hair! Made me laugh out loud, and I don't usually do that this time of morning... :0