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Monday, October 25, 2010

Signing Time!

Our youngest, Austin, is turning four next month and still not really talking. He can repeat words he hears, but doesn't really seem to know how or even seem interested in two way communication. I haven't been overly concerned, as I really believe he will start talking and conversing when he is good and ready. The pediatrician though seemed more concerned and referred us to a speech and language specialist.

I can't say I was particularly impressed with her or her assessment. Austin, as usual wasn't very cooperative and wouldn't respond to her questions, so she asked me to answer how I "thought" he would. How she can come up with any sort of realistic diagnoses off of what I "thought" he would answer, I don't know, but she said he has both receptive and expressive language delays.

I wont argue, he does have delays. As far as the seriousness and treatment and prognosis, I can't say I agree with it all, but she did make a suggestion of teaching him sign language as a way to communicate. I have always loved sign language and at one time many, many years ago was actually quite proficient at it! I seem to have forgotten a lot of it, but it is slowly coming back.

At first I kind of blew the idea off, still believing he'll converse when he's ready in his own time. But out of sheer frustration I finally broke down and bought a "Signing Time" DVD. I have to say I am impressed, and think this was probably the best thing we could have done!

Not only is he trying to sign, but he is actually SAYING the words too! I am guessing it is the repetition combined with the "seeing" the picture words, and "hearing" the words and the "doing" of signing them, but he is both saying and signing many words now! He hasn't really moved beyond using them during the video yet, but I am hoping that is soon to follow. Meanwhile, with all the catchy songs and the repetition, the rest of us are picking up on it fairly quick as well so we can use it with him.

I have heard from several parents with children who have responded positively to these videos as well. Some have special needs and are non-verbal for whatever reason and have either learned to sign or like Austin, both speak and sign as a result of these videos. Several parents of just young yet non-speaking babies and toddlers have found teaching their babies sign language has really helped develop their language skills, plus reduced frustration as even though they can't yet speak they can still communicate and let their needs be known.

I HIGHLY recommend these videos for anybody with either children who are having difficulty in the language department or just too young to yet speak and communicate effectively. They are also great for younger children who may be interested in signing. Due to the silly songs and over all nature of the videos they are best for younger children, maybe up to eight years of age, though my eleven year old enjoys them immensely. My almost fourteen year old on the other hand, isn't the least bit interested, they are definitely geared for the younger set.

If you do have older children interested in signing, I highly recommend THIS site. It shows and teaches most of the ASL signs and even offers a free full course in ASL. There are great picture demonstrations as well as video demonstrations for all of the signs. I used this several years ago for my oldest son, for part of his homeschooling program.

Sign Language can be fun to learn, and in the case of non-verbal children, open up the doors to communication. Like many languages, you just never know when it will come in handy somewhere in your life either!

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