Monday, September 28, 2009

Signs of Success

Hindsight is so 20/20. When our oldest daughter was 18-months old and non-verbal, a friend suggested using sign language with her. I started by teaching her the sign for done. After a few days of me using the sign at every opportunity, she did not sign back, but she did say, "done!" This was her first word. Instead of viewing this as a signing success (since she didn't sign back) I figured she was ready to talk and didn't do any more sign language. And she didn't learn any more words for six months. It is easy to slap my forehead in disbelief at my naivete now, but at the time I didn't realize what I was giving up, or what was going on.

We recently started using sign language (ASL) more after learning more about our daughter's various delays. It started by wanting to give her a hand motion to match each house rule that we wanted her to learn. She responded so well to this, and actually told me that the signs are helpful to her, that we've started signing even more. A good friend pointed me to the "Signing Time" videos, which all of our kids like watching, and they are all learning the signs. We've also checked out a few books from the library for additional signing vocabulary. If nothing else it is a fun and educational activity that all of my children enjoy, YAY!...but there seems to be more to it.

Especially since I'm just learning to sign again (dredging up some quite rusty memories from my high school era) I do not sign with my kids all the time, but I am strategically learning signs to accompany challenging and/or important conversations, like:
  • enforcing the house rules
  • talking about emotions (are you feeling happy, sad, grumpy, etc.)
  • frustrating situations (need help?)
  • mealtimes (more, done, please, thank you)
  • play time (your turn, share)
  • and story time (whatever words in a book that I know I try to practice those signs)
It has been a powerful tool to add to my toolbox, and one that I hope will continue to become more useful as I learn more.


Related Posts with Thumbnails