Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week 3 Signs and Gestures

So here we are at week 3. Not sure if anyone is reading this but I am going to keep chatting and hopefully someone out there is finding some information here that is useful to you and your family.

I want to check in and see how things are going with you and your child's communication. Are you hearing some words or word approximations? Is this enjoyable and are you seeing your child getting excited about communicating? If this describes what you are experiencing, then just keep doing what you are doing. Imitate what your child is saying, expand what they are saying and rejoice that language is popping!!

Is there anyone out there that is not hearing anything that could even be a word or word approximation? Any frustrations? Please don't get discouraged because this week is for you. Sometimes it is hard for a child to get the idea of using a word or series of sounds to express themselves. That does not mean that they aren't communicating, it just means that we might have to try some other "tricks" to help them along.

So, the hint for this week is : encourage your child to use a gesture or sign to get their wants and needs met.

Some people are worried that if their child starts using a gesture/sign system to communicate that they won't want to use words and will get stuck using signs instead. This is not true :) Children will want to use the same system for communicating that their family is using so the goal is always going to be verbal communication. But by using signs to begin with, your child will get success in communicating and be less frustrated. Plus they will be understanding more about turn taking and getting needs and wants met by using a communication system, in this case signing.

It's amazing that any of us learn to talk. Let's think about what our bodies have to do to actually say words. First we have to have the thought to share; then we have to coordinate our breathing, our vocal folds have to work correctly, we need to be able to move our tongue around in our mouth to produce each sound we need to make each word and also we need to form our lips in crazy positions! It's alot harder than we ever realize. Some children need some extra time to develop any of these steps that make it possible to say a word. But the wonderful thing about signing is that it is much easier to gesture or make a sign than to say a word.

So my philosophy is to focus on the goal: We want your child to be able to let you know what they want, how they are feeling, expand their vocabularies, and feel the joy of communicating with the ones that they love. So I feel that the best way to do that is a total communication approach. This includes pointing, signing, gesture, maybe even using a picture system and of course words and phrases.

If we start where your child is most successful and it's easy, then your child will practice, get more success, want to do it more and communication will happen. There are many books, videos, websites, and information about signing out there. I would suggest that you start with power words like "more"; "me"; "eat"; "drink"; "all done". These 5 signs let your child tell you alot. Then you can expand from there. Another hint: Always use words when you are using signs with your child. We want them to realize that you understand them and that there is a verbal word for what they are signing. Total communication!!

When you are using signs you will use all the hints that I have mentioned in the past 2 weeks. You will just be using and recognizing the sign instead of hearing a word at this point. It truly is a win win situation for you and your child.

Have a wonderful week.


  1. For anyone that is interested in knowing of some free signing resources, the library is a great place to start. You can check out signing DVDs for free. It is a great way to see what your child connects with before investing $ in it. Another fabulous free resourse is the ASL browser

  2. These are great suggestions, thanks. I also like the ASL website because they actually show the signs with a real person instead of trying to describe it or show a drawing of it!