Thursday, March 05, 2015

Yes, "Moose" is a Motivator!

I remember the first day that I met Soham. I was working in Pickering, Ontario at a group home for children who are medically fragile. One of our residents had just passed away and we were told that we would be getting a new little boy in the next couple of days. From the moment he came in the door he was a little ray of sunshine. I knew then that there was a special bond between us. It wasn't long until my husband met and fell in love with him and we adopted him.

Soham was born in Toronto, Ontario in 2008. His birth parents were unable to care for him due to his many medical needs and diagnosis of Down syndrome. He spent much of his early years in and out of hospitals and foster homes. When he was three years old he was moved into the group home where I worked. He was unable to express himself through verbal communication as his many medical needs had been more of a priority over anything else. He often became frustrated and would hit people because was trying to communicate but had no tools to do so.

I took it upon myself to get some books from the library on American Sign Language (ASL) and to start teaching him the signs for animals (something he loved). He picked them up right way. His first sign was “moose” soon after he could sign “monkey”, “fish”, “elephant”, “pig”, “dog” and so many others. He was so happy that he was able to communicate with me about the things that he loved! I knew I was going to have to learn sign language.

I took to the internet to research where I could learn. I quickly came across WeeHands and took all of the online classes. I was amazed at how quickly he was learning to sign! At times he knew more signs than I did. He would sign something and I would have to look it up. I continued to learn and build vocabulary based on things he was learning at the time, potty training and feeding, playing, etc.

Soham is now seven years old and is starting to communicate using sign language to form complete sentences, “I want __________ please mommy” “Thank you for __________ mommy”. Another important thing to note is that when Soham signs, it slows down his thought process and he is able to say the word as he signs it. It is not always clear but he definitely tries to verbalize every word he signs.

I can’t imagine where we would be today without ASL.  Thank you WeeHands for giving my family the tools to communicate with our sweet little boy, Soham!

Sheena Lane is Soham's mom and is now also a WeeHands Instructor teaching in southwestern Ontario. Since 2001, WeeHands has been an industry-leading children's sign language and language development program delivered through interactive, fun classes, as well as a line of tailored products. In 2014, WeeHands became part of Morneau Shepell’s Children's Support Solutions, an organization that provides health-centered and educational services to children with differences to help them reach their potential.

Monday, March 02, 2015

What The Heck is Baby Sign Language?

Baby sign it fad? Is it a trend? I've been teaching parents to sign with their children for over 15 years and WeeHands has been around since 2001. I'm not sure what the actual definition of a "fad" is but I'm pretty sure we've gone far beyond whatever length of time is attributed to a fad.

Why baby sign language? What is Baby Sign Language?

Basically, baby sign language is a way for your baby to communicate with you - with their hands - before clear speech develops. Just as a baby learns to wave "bye-bye" a baby can learn to sign "milk", "mommy", "water", "dog" and even, "I love you"!

WeeHands teaches parents to use key American Sign Language vocabulary or signs, paired with their speech, when interacting with their little ones. For example, when a parent gives their baby a drink of water, that parent would sign and say the word, WATER. When giving their baby a bath, a parent would also sign and say the word, WATER. Eventually, the baby will learn to sign "WATER" either to make a comment about or to request water when they want some using the ASL sign for water!

Using motivating and functional American Sign Language signs to represent items, activities and even feelings, you and your baby can begin to communicate clearly, earlier than first spoken words, reducing frustration for both of you. In general, first spoken words come between 11 and 12 months of age while first signs can come between 9 and 10 months of age. Your baby wants to communicate well before first words come and baby sign language allows them to!

Benefits of Using Baby Sign Language

We asked recently on our facebook page the question, "Why do you sign with your baby?" and here are some of the benefits that parents shared:

  1. baby sign language allows baby to be understood before speech develops
  2. babies and toddlers learning to say have better fine motor skills
  3. baby sign language is another wonderful way to be able to bond with your child
  4. American Sign Language is a beautiful second language
  5. babies and toddlers who are able to sign have fewer frustrations which means less stress for all!
  6. communication using signs is so much easier for babies who can't speak yet
There you are just a few wonderful reasons to using sign language with your baby! Are you signing with your baby? What benefits are you seeing?

Sara Bingham is the author of The Baby Signing Book and the founder of WeeHands. Since 2001, WeeHands has been an industry-leading children's sign language and language development program delivered through interactive, fun classes, as well as a line of tailored products. In 2014, WeeHands became part of Morneau Shepell’s Children's Support Solutions, an organization that provides health-centered and educational services to children with differences to help them reach their potential.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Learn Baby Sign Language from a SODA!

Okay we're actually not starting the "pop" versus "soda" debate here but we're talking about Karla's baby sign language classes in Toronto!

Karla Velasquez is the sibling of a Deaf adult (a SODA!), her younger brother Diego who was born deaf. She has grown up with American Sign Language as the third language in her household; English and Spanish being the first and second respectfully. After high school, Karla studied American Sign Language at the Canadian Hearing Society. She was accepted and graduated from the American Sign language and Deaf Studies program, after which she enrolled into the American Sign language - English Interpreter program. She soon realized that becoming an interpreter was not where she wanted to go career wise but rather, working with families/toddlers who want to learn ASL for communication purposes. Karla frequently volunteers with Deaf organizations/ associations, and Deaf events/festivals throughout the year within the the Deaf Community. 

Karla notes "having had the opportunity to learn the amazing benefits and possibilities that American Sign Language can do for overcoming communication obstacles; I want to bring awareness to other parents/families. I want to encourage and inspire others to learn this wonderful language. Whether for a fun pass time and bonding activity, or to relieve stress and frustration that can come from trying to guess your baby's wants and needs!" 

For more about Karla's baby sign language classes call 647-239-1568 or email:

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Preemie Parenting & All the Juggling that Goes With It!

Today I had the opportunity to chat with Deb Discenza, who is an author and is also the founder of PreemieWorld. Deb understands the need of today’s preemie parents to be able to grasp medical information in layman’s terms and to be able to create a “new normal” in the midst of the NICU chaos.On this show, we talked about parenting preemies and all the juggling that goes with it!

Some of the resources, Deb mentioned included:
  • a website that allows you to connect and share in a half-million-member support community with others who know what you're going through.

Just press play to listen to our wee little podcast!

Check Out Parents Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sara Bingham on BlogTalkRadio

How have you had to advocate for your child? 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Why Sign? What Good Comes from It?

Today I'll be writing an article that's been requested regarding the benefits of using baby sign language (ASL vocabulary for us) with your little one. Just received this tweet which pretty much sums it up!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More WeeHands Classes in BC!

Heaven-Leigh Costa is a mom who first learned about WeeHands classes because her own mother has been a WeeHands Instructors since 2010.  Heaven-Leigh is excited about teaching with WeeHands because  she has seen the remarkable communication abilities that her own sister had by the time she was 10 months old!  Heaven-Leigh looks forward to being able to bring the joy of communication to parents and babies in her community. 
Heaven-Leigh shares, "It is never to earlier to start signing with your baby! The earlier you start to sign with your baby the earlier they will understand what your signing and be able to sign back. Start signing with your baby as soon as your feel comfortable. I started with my son right from birth and he was signing back " more " and "milk" by 8 months!"