Thursday, June 28, 2007

Another Reason to Sign

Yes, we did sign language with Sabrina and plan to do it again with Cassandra. I have great memories of Sabrina signing her first words ("milk" and "more") and learning to communicate way before she was able to speak. We had lots of serious books on the subject, but the most useful turned out to be a series of board books designed for kids by language experts Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn. The books cover basic signs and feature colorful photographs of babies signing each word, which appeals to young children. Another signing product we liked was this neat chart that helped us, our nanny and anyone visiting sign.

After Sabrina started speaking we dropped the signing and put away the books. I pulled them out again when preparing for Cassandra's birth, and to my surprise Sabrina was very interested in re-learning sign language. She is now able to sign words and phrases that she could not at 18 months and I think will be excited to sign with Cassandra when the time comes. Her favorite sign by far is "I love you," which she flashes me with throughout the day. Sometimes I even get her version of "I love you very much": two "I love you" signs with both hands in the air.


20 comments:

Lori Ann said...

Please! Please! Please! If you are going to teach your child sign language, please teach American Sign Language. Baby Signs uses both ASL and made up signs. This is very confusing for people who use ASL. It is frustrating for my Deaf friends and students. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

As a pediatric speech pathologist I teach baby signs all the time. ASL hand movements are too difficult for little ones who have not developed the fine motor skills for such detailed movements, so baby signs were developed to compensate. They are usually close approximations of the ASL sign or a simplified version. It typically isn't too hard to differentiate. The lack of ability to communicate for a small child is much more frustrating. I'm glad your little girl was so interested. It is an excellent tool to use as their language develops!

Anonymous said...

I am deaf as was my father. Baby Signs is wonderful for baby's first introduction into signing. Babies get frustrated not being able to sign "correctly." This gives them the chance to join the conversation and not be left out. Your speaking child is allowed to pronounce words incorrectly at first until they are able to form the words correctly. This is the same thing. Besides, just as hearing people mumble and use slang, so do signers.

Balance is Best said...

As a former teacher that has worked with preschoolers that used ASL,used it with my own child, and had deaf friends. I agree with the idea of using ASL. Yes, the signs can be difficult for baby, but just like with spoken language they develop their own versions that work for the two of you. As they use the signs, their signing gets closer and closer to your own. I highly recommend signing ASL with baby and toddler. Don't let the fact that it is a full fledged language intimidate you (or let it intimidate you out of using it for fear of your baby's intimidation). Want to read more about how to do it? pinchxeverything.blogspot.com for ideas and more resources.

Holly Baker said...

I just want to know what my baby is trying to tell me. I recognize some of these signs from the Baby Einstein's video, therefore, it looks good to me! Thank you for posting this!!!

WhatAmIDoing said...

I think a good majority of us teaching baby to sign aren't doing it to communicate with people who are HOH or deaf. We only hope to ease the frustration of our children before they are able to speak. For that purpose, Baby Signs is perfectly acceptable. Trying to teach an infant or toddler full fledged ASL seems like overkill to me, with the exception that the child will be communicating with deaf or HOH individuals. If, at a later time, your child wants to further his/her signing skills, that would be an appropriate time to introduce ASL.

Anonymous said...

I work with infants and its easyer to teach them baby Signs then ASL. It is easyer for me to know what my children want. They cant do ASL. I tought my doughter at 6 months and she can tell me what she wants and she knows most of them she is now 8 months and we talk back and fourth because she tells me please and then what she wants and I give it to her and she says thank you. Its better then her sitting there and crying all day long. But there to young for ASL.

Anonymous said...

I work with infants and its easyer to teach them baby Signs then ASL. It is easyer for me to know what my children want. They cant do ASL. I tought my doughter at 6 months and she can tell me what she wants and she knows most of them she is now 8 months and we talk back and fourth because she tells me please and then what she wants and I give it to her and she says thank you. Its better then her sitting there and crying all day long. But there to young for ASL.

CJ said...

Do you know where I could order a poster like this showing all the signs? I'd love to hang it in my daycare room.

Anonymous said...

As a therapist who teaches on the birth to three program i agree that ASL is way to difficult with fine motor movements to teach to small children. Often we are using sign as a bridge eithlanguage to help reduce frustration while we work on language. If a child is going to be a signer for life we adjust and just a different approach but pls do not assume that if someone wants to teach sign to their infant child (which studies have shown can increase IQ) ASL is not appropriate for small babies and baby signs are wonderful!

Monica said...

We did signing (real ASL) with our now 2.5y/o who loved it, and I'm excited to use it with our new little one (currently 6wks!)

For those saying ASL is too difficult for babies and toddlers, it's just not true. Babies and kids can learn ASL the same way they learn English (or any other language). Sure they might not sign the words perfectly, but as they use it they get closer to the actual sign, the same as learning spoken language.

We LOVED "baby signing time" videos for learning too- and they use actual ASL :)

Anonymous said...

It is hard to teach ASL to those babies with special needs. My daughter was born with Down Syndrome and has difficulty controling her hands so Baby Sign works best for us because it is a lot easier. The hope is to teach her signs for a while until she learns to talk enough that we do not have to use signs for the rest of her life. She is not deaf and has no hearing issues. People with Down Syndrome usually have language issues and take a lot longer to talk. She is 17 months and already saying 6 words and plenty of sounds. We are not going to sign to her the rest of her life if she can speak so Baby signs work for us and she can do 3 of them at this point. We just use it at this point so we can communicate with her and her with us and to help relieve her frustration in communicating. We are going use what is easiest for her and what works for us. She watches Baby Signing Time DVD's and that is how we are all learning it. We don't do it to communicate with everyone else just our daughter so we will use the ones we choose to use. I think it is great to teach any baby using baby signs because it helps with communicating until little ones can talk. I think teaching babies ASL is a little much and don't agree with others who are being so critical about Baby signs. Do what works for your baby!

bibliospork@gmail.com said...

Anonymous from April 21, you do realize that Baby Signing Time uses ASL?

In any case, there is no reason not to use ASL vocabulary.

What people seem to forget is that just like a toddler speaks her own approximations of spoken language until they have the ability to speak "properly", they will use approximations of the correct signs.

Most parents don't use baby talk to their kids because it's important for them to hear the words the right way to give them something to model on. Why wouldn't we do the same with signs?

Anonymous said...

I understand why those who live and or work within the deaf community want any sign language to be ASL...but...as an early childhood educator baby signs is easier and was developed just for babies not a deaf person. It was never meant to exclude the deaf or hearing person. Most of the hearing community will run from this approach for fear it may cause delays even though it has been proven to work. As a hearing person with a relative who is deaf language barriers are difficult and are frustrating for all; the hearing and deaf alike. I believe you should choose the approach that works best for your situation and that you feel most comfortable with. Most of all we all need to understand the purpose is to remove barriers and frustrations not build walls between the deaf and hearing communities.

Anonymous said...

I teach High school students ASL and I also have been teaching my son from about 6 months old. He cannot form the "correct" sign with his hands and thus creates his own version of it. We understand what he is saying. When we sign to him we sign it correctly and he will sign his version of it. I think we should teach the correct signs but know that the child will adjust the sign to his/her developing motor skills. The sign will become more correct with the better development of his/her motor skills.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised to see an argument over this. People can choose whatever works for them. If you are teaching signing with the purpose of communicating long-term in sign language, then by all means, use ASL. If you are simply trying to get some early stages of communication from a child who has language delays, use what works. My purpose of trying to get ANY form of communication out of my Autistic toddler who has no words whatsoever, and very little receptive language, simply has nothing to do with hoping he will be able to communicate with people who use ASL. Why anyone cares what strategies I will use that work for my desired outcomes is beyond me. As if there is not enough judgement out there.

Anonymous said...

As a therapist are you speaking to a child in broken English or mispronounced words because it is too difficult for a small child to comprehend? I have twin 3 year old boys. One hearing, one Deaf. They responded to ASL just fine. Yes their signing was not exact just as my son's English was pronounced differently when he was 1 vs 3. Your explanation is ridiculous and I'm disappointed that educators like yourself find your answer appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Easier.
Daughter.
Taught.
Back and forth
Maybe you should work on your English before you teach another language, such as sign language.

Anonymous said...

I agree whole heartedly with anonymous sept. 27!

Anonymous said...

Wow, aren't you a jerk.