Baby Boots has been telling us when it is time to eat since he was thirteen months old. He soon learned to tell us whether he wanted milk or water, and now he says thank you when you hand him the ball or the cat, or whatever it is that he needs most at that particular moment in time. He tells us all of this and more despite not being able to pronounce many of these words. This is possible because he is talking with his hands by using American Sign Language (ASL).
Why teach ASL to babies? Why not teach them a more common second language such as Spanish? It turns out that a child’s ability to speak lags developmentally behind his ability to understand the concepts represented by speech. By enabling a baby to “talk” using ASL, you can avoid a lot of the frustration of not knowing what your child is upset about or what she needs. The internet is crawling with information to help you teach your child to sign and videos are available on YouTube and at your local library.
We started when he spoke his first words sometime around his eighth month by teaching him the signs for “mama” and “dada”. Next on the list were signs to eat food and drink milk, and additional signs have been added slowly as his world expands. Eventually I plan to teach Baby Boots the signs for bunt, steal, and swing away, but for now it is more important to work on cracker, cheese, and bath time.
Baby Boots now communicates several different ways, he may sign a word that is difficult to pronounce, he might sign and say the word at the same time, or he may just say it out loud without using his hands at all. “What a little genius!” some might say. I have a hard time disagreeing, but you should know that he didn’t sign back to us until about five months after the signing started, while I seem to pick it up with no trouble at all.
- Members only features
- Members can email articles, add articles as favorites, add tags to articles and more. Register now to unlock additional features.