Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Signing is Daniel’s preferred method of communication (along with yelling Winking smile), though he does use a few sounds that we can interpret as words.  I thought it would be fun to share a little bit about our signing journey.

Our goal is for Daniel to learn up to three signs each week.  That seems like a big goal, but if you think about kids learning language, it’s actually pretty small.  I know this is pretty obvious, but I’m gonna say it anyway: We have to know the signs before we can teach him.  I did take a semester of ASL in my undergrad days, but that was darn near close to a million years ago.  My memory sure isn’t what it used to be!

When I want to learn a new sign (or three or four), I go to the dictionary at Baby Sign Language.  The kids love to watch Signing Time movies as well – and Daniel is starting to enjoy them more – but I don’t usually have time to sit through an entire episode.  So I look up what I need in the BSL dictionary, practice it a couple of times, and then try to use it as much with Daniel as I possibly can.  The other kids catch on to this really fast, and they looooove helping him with new words.  Obviously, we try to use signs that are common in everyday life.  Not much use for “ocean” at this point, but “help” and “again” are right up at the top of the list.

Daniel is just starting to imitate what we do, so he is learning the signs much faster than when we started over a year ago.  Sometimes he’ll imitate the sign completely on his own.  Sometimes I have to manipulate his hands for him.  His signs can be somewhat sloppy, which is much the same as a child saying “wa-wa” for water or “eph-a-lant” for elephant.  It’s all part of the learning process – and it is so much fun to watch!

Daniel’s current signs are (I have linked to the BSL dictionary if you want to see the sign for each word):

These signs are emerging (meaning he’s starting to use them, but not consistently):

I would love for him to learn and use these signs:

We challenge all of you who are close to us to learn along with us and use Daniel’s signs when you interact with him.  He LOVES when people speak his language, and it’s a great way to generalize his communication skills to situations outside our home and family life.  I guarantee you will enjoy every second of his attempts to communicate with you!!

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