Help Your Child Communicate by Teaching Him Simple Signs at an Early Age
To provide a program of total communication for young children, sign language is often used in conjunction with traditional speech therapy. Babies can actually manipulate their hands and fingers way before they can manipulate their oral structures to form words. For this reason, babies who are having difficulties developing words can begin to communicate using basic signs. The process of watching an adults hand movements in this way develop listening skills and visual skills – both of which are important in the development of spoken language.
Signing helps a young child learn a word's meaning and how to communicate if effectively. Many children who begin to communicate by signing soon learn to say the corresponding words. American Sign Language – ASL – is what is typically used with young children who are just beginning to develop communication skills. If your little one is having trouble communicating using words and is getting frustrated because he is not understood, try showing him some signs. Signing Time is an excellent program you can use at home. There are books and dvds you and your baby will love! Through interactive songs and teaching segments children of all ages are encouraged to play, sing and sign along while they learn basic ASL vocabulary and simple ASL baby sign.
The first thing you'll want to do is come up with a list of vocabulary words that are meaningful and useful for your child's environment. This list may include such words as “eat”, “drink”, “go”, “more”, “all done”, “milk”, “sleep”, “mommy”, “daddy”. The next thing you need to do is to teach these to your child. Show him the sign while you say the word and do this over and over in as many terms as you can. To teach your child the word and sign for “cat”, use the sign and say the word each and every time your child sees a cat, points to a cat in a book or even hears a cat meow! You may even need to help him make the appropriate hand movements at first.
Signing can give your child a way to communicate that he was otherwise without. His frustration will be less if he has a way to communicate that he is thirsty instead of just getting cranky and you misunderstanding what he really needs. As a result of being able to communicate, social behavior will often improve in a child who has already become frustrated with the inability to communicate.