Recently, Mey Lau from Baby Sign Language approached me and asked to share information about sign language on my blog. The way I see it, Ian communicates all the time and sign language gives him an additional tool to help us understand his wants, desires and needs. It opened up a world of connection for all of us in the family we use it every day. I want to thank Mey for offering to write this guest post about her experience with sign language and how it can help provide the bridge between you and your pre-verbal child.
Those of us who have worked with or cared for nonverbal children can sometimes wonder if they just don’t want to talk. Do they need to talk in order to communicate? Sure, our culture puts a lot of pressure on verbal communication, for obvious reasons. Life is easier for those of us who can speak. But are we missing out on other modes of communication?
Like body language? Like facial expressions? Like sign language? More than 30 years of research and scores of testimonials support the notion that nonverbal children with autism can communicate with sign language. Children are usually happy to move about, happy to wave their arms and move their hands. If we encouraged this behavior, maybe life would be better for our children, and for us.
While sign language can be intimidating, it is important to know that one doesn’t have to learn the entire language in order to benefit from it. Many families simply take it one sign at a time. If a child is fond of a particular toy or object, then learn the sign for that! If one event is particularly stressful for a child, then learn a sign that can help lessen that stress.
Signing with your child promotes social interaction. Even if she doesn’t always make eye contact when you sign with her, at least the invitation is there. And watching a child you love sign is a joyous event. You get to experience the entire package. Not only do you learn what is going on in your child’s mind, but you get to see her beautiful body perform the communication, her face often supporting the thought. It can be cute enough to make you laugh, and it can be profound enough to make you weep. It’s communication at its best.
Sign language helps prevent us from limiting our children. If they are preverbal, it is not the end of the world. Nonverbal does not mean non-communicative. Give signing a try and see how your child responds. Just remember to take it slow, without any pressure, and to enjoy every word, spoken or not.
This article was provided by babysignlanguage.com a website featuring digital resources including a baby sign language dictionary, baby sign language flash cards, and a baby sign language wall chart 100% free.
Please click here to comment on the blog.