"Does signing with your baby delay speech?"
I'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.