Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SIGNING WITH MY BABY?
Babies who Sign …
Parents who Sign with their Babies…
- Are Less Frustrated
- Speak Earlier (Contrary to what many think)
- Have Higher IQ’s (10-12 points higher)
- Develop Larger Vocabularies
- At age 2, signers have about 50 more spoken words than non-signers
- At age 3, signers speak and understand at a 4 year old level
- Demonstrate a Greater Interest in Books
- Have Better Imaginations
- Enhanced Self-Esteem
- Experience a Closer Bond with their Parents and Siblings
- Give their babies a head start on language development
- Experience decreased frustration
- Enjoy an earlier interactive experience with their baby
- Look forward to the “Not-So-Terrible” Two’s
- Hear less crying in the house
- Have more fun with their babies
From a comparison study by Susan Goodwyn, PhD and Linda Acredolo, PhD of the University of California at Davis. Funded by the National Institute of Health and Human Development, the study compared signers and non-signers at age 2, 3 and age 8.
WHEN SHOULD I START SIGNING WITH MY CHILD?
Typically, the best time to get started is between the ages of 6-9 months. It is at this time that babies start to babble and test out their voices as well as start to imitate gestures and manipulate objects with their hands. It is also at this age that babies can be taught to associate between making a sign and obtaining a desired result. You can start earlier (which helps you get in the habit of signing more often and gets your baby an earlier familiarity to your hand gestures), just expect that it will take your baby longer to start signing back to you. If your baby is older, it is never too late to start! The older the baby, the quicker they will catch on and learn new signs.
WILL THIS DELAY THEIR SPEECH?
Absolutely not! Contrary to what many people think, it has been proven conclusively that babies who sign speak earlier than those who do not sign. Linda Acredolo, PHD received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study verbal language development in signing babies versus non-signing babies. Critics of baby sign language were surprised by the results because baby signers had more advanced verbal skills than their non-signing peers. Numerous other studies have been conducted through the years, always with the same result: Infants who learn to sign develop their communication skills at an advanced rate.
MY CHILD HAS DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS. CAN SIGN LANGUAGE HELP THEM COMMUNICATE BETTER?
Sign language is highly recommended as a way to bridge the communication gap for children with special needs. Speech pathologists recommend teaching hearing non verbal children who suffer from down syndrome, autism, childhood apraxia, cerebral palsy, trauma, and brain and speech disorders. A huge number of parents now rely on sign language as a mode of communication particularly with their children who suffer with speech delays, limited language capabilities or short attention spans. Often these children’s expressive language is slower to develop than their receptive language. For example, one of the most frustrating aspects of autism is the communication breakdown. Often, children with autism struggle with the complexity of spoken language. Sign language provides numerous social, emotional, cognitive and communicative benefits for children with autism.
It is believed that through acquiring sign language early on, the child is able to build up cognitive structures and brain function, which are the building blocks for later learning.
Once special needs children are into their toddler and preschool years, they often use their signs for emphasis, or to clarify when their spoken words are not fully understood.
Check out these links for more useful information:
About Down Syndrome
The Use of Signs by Children with Down Syndrome
Alternative Augmentative Communication for Children with Autism: PECS and Sign
WHAT WILL I LEARN FROM THE BABY SIGNING 101 WORKSHOP?
While several books and how-to videos have been created on the subject, parents are generally left to their own devices to figure it all out. Many parents get frustrated and give up on teaching their babies sign language after trying to go at it alone. Many of the most helpful sign language words are abstract words (ie: help, hurt, more), meaning you can’t point to an object and teach the sign for it. The Baby Signing 101 Workshop shows the participants how to teach those particular signs to their children. This is something that you won’t find in a book or video.
Attendees of the workshop will also learn about the benefits of communicating with pre-verbal babies through sign language and the research that supports it as well as all of the tips and tricks to ensure that they are successful based on the science of how a baby's brain is formed.
Check the Baby Signing 101 Workshop tab for a full description of the class.