Monday, April 29, 2013

How sign language can benefit a therapy session. Read our Guest Post from Jessica of Figuratively Speeching

Today we have a great guest post from Jessica from Figuratively Speeching. I wanted to hear how other SLPs are able to use sign language in their practice and therapy... new perspective.

As an SLP, one of my major goals is to improve a child’s ability to communicate through functional means, which is not only through verbal communication. Functional communication allows children to get their messages across using spoken words, printed words, gestures, sign language or through accessing a communication device. 

I incorporate sign language every day with my students, whether they are in Early Intervention, preschool, or are school age. Signs are wonderful to use as visual cues to assist students in staying on task, help with following directions, requesting and when questioning students during activities. They also help build vocabulary in nonverbal or minimally verbal children, as well as provide cues to assist in recall of newly learned vocabulary in older children. Children learn best when multiple senses are engaged and experiencing life. By adding sign language to a child’s communication options, you are giving them the opportunity to hear the word (when it is spoken), see the word (when watching it spoken, as well as signed) and perform the word by signing it. This multi-sensory form of communication helps children acquire vocabulary more quickly and ef´Čüciently. One of my Life Skills students is working with preschool children, and she is interested in teaching them how to communicate through sign language, so we practice once weekly. When going into homes for Early Intervention, I bring articles about the benefits of sign language. Here is one handout from United Way.

This next one is from Super Duper’s Handy Handouts:
Encouraging Spoken Language Through Signs

Finally, here is a link to a page with more than 90 common signs for children that I share with parents to assist in carryover. What is wonderful about this site is that each sign has its own video, and the instructor explains what to do while she signs: 

Most parents are receptive to having their children learn sign. It is amazing to see how easily they pick up sign. 

 I had the opportunity to use the March ASL packet from Hear My Hands last month (click here). Here is a collage with some of the included activities: I have to say that I love Signing Simon (that adorable boy in the blue shirt)! 

 The graphics are wonderful and clear, and the packet encompassed vocabulary that I used throughout the month of March. I loved that there were receptive and expressive language tasks. By the end of the month, my students were able to identify and use most of the signs from the packet. 

 Not only do I teach my students sign, but I also teach basic signs to their teachers. The teachers can then incorporate the signs as visual cues to gain attention, and use as “secret” signals to my students. My students love these signals, because it helps them focus, and provides a nonverbal cue that does not call attention to them. I hope you will try to incorporate some sign language into your speech sessions. It is something different to do, and fun to learn for everyone!

Thank you Jessica. Don't forget to check our her blog (click hereand show her some Facebook love (here!

Jessica wrote about some hand outs to give to parents .. great ideas! Don't forget to check out our Tips and Games page for some great posts on benefits!

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