Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest post from Katie at PWW365. Hear her perspective on sign language benefits!

Today we have a great guest post from Katie from Playing With Words 365 on her thoughts on using sign language with her children. Our blogs met each other about a year ago and we realized we had the same interests in sign language! 

In graduate school (for communication sciences and disorders), I did a research paper on the benefits of signing to hearing babies. What I found during that time was pretty amazing (I outlined the many benefits of signing to hearing babies in 9 Reasons to Teach Sign Language to Your {Hearing} Infant or Toddler on my blog.) I knew that I would be signing to my own children whenever I was blessed with them. Fast forward a few years, and there I was, a mommy to my first child, my daughter E. I started signing to her around 8-9 months here and there. By 12 months we were signing a great deal more and she was starting to sign back! She pretty much stuck to signs that served her functions like more, milk, and eat. But signing really helped her communicate her needs to us before she had the ability to do so well verbally. As she started to talk more and more, she slowly stopped signing and there was a natural end to her use of signs.
(My daughter signing "more" at almost three)

Then I had my son. I was more motivated than ever to sign to him, and started signing with him around 7-8 months old. At age two, my daughter became fascinated with signing, so I started teaching the signs to her as well. We signed during meal times, story time, bath time, and watched one Baby Signing Time video each day to help learn more signs and practice. Before we knew it, my son Ev was signing up a storm! Unlike my daughter who used the signs in a very get-what-I-want way, Ev loved to sign to interact with us and show us things of interest. He would sit and "read" Brown Bear, Brown Bear to himself, as he signed the names of all the animals. DSC_5141
(My son signing "fish")

Ev picked up signing quickly and efficiently and we ended up being extra thankful for sign. Why? Because, as ironic as it is, his speech was developing a little on the slow side. Ev has always been an excellent communicator, but his speech skills have taken a bit longer to develop than his older sister's. It is not a wives' tale that boy's can develop a bit slower than girls, but it has been interesting for me, as a speech pathologist, to witness this personally. Anyway, because we were signing to him, Ev always had a way to communicate to us. He was able to get his needs met and share his interests with us without frustration as his motor skills developed and his speech slowly improved. Had we not been signing, I am afraid things could have been very different. Now here we are, a year later, and my two year old son is now using speech as his primary mode of communication.

As with my daughter, he naturally started signing less as he began speaking more and now he rarely signs. Sometimes I will sign something and he will sign it back but mostly he "uses his words" so to speak. I am thankful that we used sign with him, and we are planning to sign to our next child, due this summer, as well. You can read HERE many of the posts I have written about signing to hearing children, including how to pick the signs to use with your children, tips on weaving it into daily activities, and more!

Katie is a a mom to two little ones, E (4) and Ev (2) and a licensed and credentialed pediatric speech-language pathologist (when she finds the time). She blogs over at Playing With Words 365, sharing information about speech and language development, intervention strategies, therapy ideas and tips, and shares a little about her family and their life too. You can follow along on Facebook or Pinterest for more speech and language ideas and tips.

Do you have a story about starting sign language with your little ones or maybe even your bigger ones (they don't have to be young!). I'd love to hear about it!

1 comment:

Thpeech Teach said...

Mahalo for posting your article! I just shared with everyone. I have used signing with hearing children since 1975 and personally with my daughter and grandson. There are many who are still stuck in the old mentality that the child will not talk even for a longer period of time. Actually, my daughter and grandson were saying single words with communication intent at 8 there's another testimony! Great Job!
Aloha! Genie Ruddle, M.A., CCC-SLP

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