Using Sign language in your household does not in itself guarantee that your child will sign/communicate from a younger age.
Before you react with horror to this statement, let me clarify…:
I recently looked after my 1-year old godson who was not able to sign. He also didn’t speak, other than ‘mamamama’ ‘dadada’ etc. He was really quite an average cute little 1-year old.
The strange thing is that his mother and father are both profoundly deaf and use sign language to communicate!
So why did this boy not sign?
Parents who can speak sometimes have children who (despite there being no medical reason for them not to speak) are delayed in their verbal development.
Teaching a baby about communication (signed and spoken), requires effort and time.
Here are some very important signing strategies:
· Get eye contact
· Using relevant signs/ words
· Repeat the sign/ word as many times within the context as you can
· Make it fun – play games in which the word is used
· Listen/ look for and react to their effort to communicate back to you!
· Praise their efforts, however small
In the case of my godson, his mum and dad have had a very stressful 6 months and I know that they have not had the time or energy to focus on 1:1 communication – at a time when it was very crucial for their son’s language development.
In the short time I had with him, I gave him my undivided attention and we played several ‘signing’ games, using the above guidelines. At the end of the day I had seen him attempting to sign about 3 different words!
This has encouraged me to write down some simple activities everyone can do in their daily routine – which I will publish in my next Blogs.
Please feel free to join my Facebook site “Signing Babies” for more blogs!