Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Myths About Signing With Your Baby

Today we are pleased to have Kristy from guest posting for us.  Hear My Hands recently became one of our sponsors and we are so thrilled to be working with her!

Jamie has a special place in her heart for ASL (American Sign Language).  She started learning it in First grade when her elementary school partnered with a school for the deaf a few miles down the road.  Years later, Jamie took ASL as a second language in college.  Unfortunately Jamie has not kept up with her ASL skills and has lost most of it.  She was hoping to teach her girls sign language at a young age but her husband wouldn't let her due to popular myths.  We now have Kristy guest posting for us so that others don't fall into those same myths!

Check out Kristy's website  She's got some GREAT info on there and has frequent signs for words up on her blog.  If you're in her area, check out her classes!  Without further ado, here is Kristy...

The most common myths when using sign language with infants and toddlers are: 
 “They won’t want to talk.” 
 “They will get lazy and not talk.” 
 “Their speech will be delayed.” 

Sign Language will not:
  • delay speech
  • create a oral/verbal laziness 
  • cause speech delays

But what sign language will do is:
  • Reduce frustrations (for both parents and children) & tantrums
  • Increase social skills
  • Increase joint attention skills
  • Promote early communication
  • Increase vocabulary skills
  • Increase reading abilities and desire to read
  • Increase visual attending skills
  • Increase cognitive development (higher IQs)
  • Reduce “terrible two’s”J

Signing Time put it nicely in saying, “Toddlers see the word, hear the word, say the word and move to model the word with their hands”.

Signing Time recently partnered with Dr. Jenn, author of SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years. A great excerpt from the book is:
“According to Dr. Marilyn Agin, Lisa Geng, and Malcolm Nicholl, authors of The Late Talker, 'Research indicates that signing is a stepping stone–and a very important one–on the way to speech. As the child’s ability to vocalize increases, signing falls by the way side. The signs are not an alternative to speech, but a method of helping the child discover speech.'”
Signing is fun. Signing is resourceful, practical, and a great tool to bridge a communication gap. I researched the use of sign language with typically developing infants with 25 + parents and their 6 – 8 month old children in 2008. After providing an 8-week series of sign language classes, and following the families for 10 months it was clear that sign language elicited positive experiences and larger receptive language skills.
What are your thoughts? Now having my own daughter and seeing its positive effects, it just makes it even easier to praise its use. I see it (and sign it) every day!

Kristy works as a speech-language pathologist in the school systems, early intervention, as well as with private clients. Her specialty is augmentative alternative communication (AAC), which she believes fits perfectly with ASL. Kristy uses ASL both personally (with her daughter) and professionally in her therapy sessions and by teaching classes, tutoring sessions, and workshops. She is a Master Level Certified Sign Language Instructor through Signing Time®, a new blogger, a student in Nova Southeastern University’s SLP.D program, a wife, and a new mom of a 13-month old. Please visit her new blog and her Facebook page and become followers! 


  1. My third most requested activity for storytimes is ASL (after more crafts and more/longer storytimes). I didn't use it with my son and have been wary of trying to learn a new language. If I'm teaching, I want it to be correct. Thank you for this article. My library does carry the Signing Time! DVDs. I'll be checking those out, now.

    1. Miss Courtney,
      We sell some great Signing Time DVDs! We also just posted part 2 of Brown Bear in ASL you must check out! :)
      Happy Signing!
      Kristy from Hearmyhands

  2. I taught my 3rd child some signs when he was a baby and it helped SO much. He wanted to be understood like his older siblings and the signs helped him do that. He started really talking right before his 2nd birthday. It was an amazing transition, he had some signs and a few words and then all of a sudden every word he tried to say he could say. He is 2 and a few months now and speaks in full sentences and as dropped doing his signs. His grammar is very good. Perhaps this is because he has older siblings, or because I homeschool and read and talk with him everyday or perhaps the signing helped. Either way it was worth it to be able to understand what my non verbal baby wanted. :) - Amber Marie

  3. As a wife of a Deaf husband, I could go on about this topic for hours, but I will try to remain at the point.

    With Deaf in the family, ASL is a must. My daughter was signing/speaking two word phrases at 10/11 months. "Milk, please" or "Mommy, up". I've never had trouble understanding her, expect those tough signs that require the pinky finger. She now almost three and is developing both languages (ASL and English) like a champ. She recognizes all the ABCs, the actual letters, and will voice and sign them, as well as 1-10, the printed numbers and counting. I've never had a "terrible two" year old she's been able to express herself to me in either language. And if I can't understand what she's asking, I can ask her to sign it and then I catch it.

    I bet people sign more than they realize. Isty Bitsy Spider, pointing at someone, an angry face when your child has done something wrong, even waving a child over to you is all a form of sign language. and I don't think those have ever impaired speech before.


We LOVE your comments! We read every single one! Thanks for taking the time to connect with us. XOXO- Jamie and Lindsi

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