Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Let's Eliminate This Question

"Does signing with your baby delay speech?"

The Baby Signing Book: Includes 350 ASL Signs for Babies and ToddlersI'm the founder of WeeHands and the author of The Baby Signing Book.  Can we please work to eliminate the question above!

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and another Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics. I'm also trained as a Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA) and have worked with children with special needs who had communicative disorders since 1994. I also teach within a CDA college program.

Each year I have my students research the question "Will signing delay speech?" using peer reviewed journal articles. We have never found any study that shows signing with young hearing children will delay speech. We have found a large number of studies that back that it enhances language, vocabulary and literacy development.

Signing with young children gives them information in an additional way so they can see, hear and even feel language.  Remember speech is different than language. To keep it simple, signing happens at your hands; speech at your mouth and language in your head.  The motor movement needed for signs develop before the motor movement needed for speech. A child uses his hands to learn language and when speech catches up, they already know the words!

Sara Bingham is the founder of WeeHands and the author of The Baby Signing Book. WeeHands is the world's leading children's sign language and language development program for babies, toddlers and preschool children.


Dianna said...

I know from experience with my own child that signing is a wonderful way for babies and toddlers to express their needs when they have not begun to speak words. My daughter was able to ask for food, drinks and favorite activities long before she could speak and this relieved many frustrations that can lead to negative behaviors such as biting.
I have witnessed Krystan's interactions and signing lessons with children and she does an awesome job! Signing is a terrific alternative communication system for all children.

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing Dianna! Krystan is wonderful! How old is your daughter now?

Dianna said...

My daughter is now 12. Being an ESE teacher, I am familiar with signing and utilized it to my daughter's advantage. I think every parent can find it to be a great tool for communicating with their child.

Marla said...

Hello - I started teaching my son ASL at 8 months. We were amazed at his progress, at 1 yr he was signing 77 signs and speaking 33 words. My daughter now 2 is more typical with 30 signs and 4 words at 1 yr.
They still sign a lot and both are above average with their communication skills. At almost 4 and 2 years old they know hundreds of signs (both have huge vocabularies) and we are now working on skills/words to get ready for JK. Feelings, manners and imagination are the most effective signs we use right now, to help with socialization and understanding these difficult concepts.