Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baby Signs

Earlier this week I blogged about sign language and Deaf children. Today I want to follow up with a post about using American Sign Language (ASL) with hearing kids.

When my daughter was born we had three Deaf foster kids and signed all the time in our home. She started making up her own signs when she was about five months old and soon learned to use real ones. Once she realized she could get what she wanted by communicating her needs and wishes she was motivated to learn to talk as well, and by the time she was a year old she had a vocabulary of about 30 words and signs. By 18 months she could communicate - and understand - just about anything. And being bi-lingual made it easy for her to learn a third language when she was older.

Since it's easier for babies to control the muscles in their hands than the ones in their mouths they can learn to sign sooner than they can learn to speak.


The "Baby Signs" books, videos, etc. are often not real ASL and many Deaf people find them insulting.

Nobody would make up sounds and call them "Baby Spanish" or "Baby German." Parents might copy their own child's baby talk or simplify the pronunciation of certain words, but they would also use the real vocabulary and pronunciation of their own language in the presence of the baby. And parents seldom try to teach their little ones to use the same baby talk as other people's kids.

Anyone who wants to use ASL with a baby can find the real signs in several locations. One online resource showing specific signs in a video dictionary is ASL Pro .

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