Friday, March 9, 2012

Baby sign examples: A parent-child video

This is Part 1 of a new series on baby signing.

I've been very excited the past few days, because Alrik has proven beyond doubt that he is now signing, at 9 months. We did sign language with Mikko when he was a baby, too, and he still knows a lot of signs at 4 years old (though we haven't kept it up as I'd hoped). Mikko didn't begin speaking until he was about 18 months old, but he started signing at 11 months, which gave us a welcome glimpse into the fascinating world inside his head. Based on my own experience and my research, I am a fervent advocate of using sign language with hearing babies.

Below is a video I compiled a long time ago but never posted here before (it was originally just to amuse our family) of 23 of Mikko's signs, as signed from 12 to 18 months of age.

It's a lovely sampling of some of the most popular signs to use with infants and toddlers, and it also shows you what it looks like when both an adult and a child perform the same signs. Sometimes it's challenging to recognize signs that babies are making, because they don't sign them the same way adults do.

I'm modeling what I sincerely hope are the correct American Sign Language (ASL) versions of each sign. My apologies if I've gotten anything wrong.

A few notes about the differences between an adult's and a baby's sign language abilities: You'll see Mikko the toddler makes many concessions in his movements, due to his more limited dexterity and his limited ability to replicate what he's seeing with what he wants his hands to do. He often uses whole hand motions in place of more particular finger motions, such as his flapping-hand motion for "cat"'s whisker feeling. He will also, for instance, point to his head with his index finger for the "mother" and "father" signs rather than his thumb, because it's more intuitive to point with a pointer finger (it's called that for a reason). He also is less precise in his movements, sometimes underemphasizing a sign (so you have to be watching closely to see it) and sometimes hilariously overdoing it. I think it's helpful as a parent to be aware of characteristics like these that crop up in a baby's signing abilities.

In case you're at all worried, I know for a fact that as dexterity and comprehension improve, so do the signs. It's just like spoken language — at first kids make a lot of mistakes in pronunciation and grammar, but they get better naturally, on their own timeline.

I hope you enjoyed the video!

Do you use baby signs with your hearing kids? Have you ever documented their signing in video or pictures?


Unknown said...

Loved the video! I've really enjoyed using sign with Daniel...for us, any kind of communication seems helpful to be able to know what he needs. I will definitely use sign again with any future children we may have. It's so much fun!

Inder-ific said...

We love baby signs in our house! Since our little boy was speech delayed, they proved to be especially useful in helping us to understand his needs before he started saying more words. Between 18 months and 2 years, he only said a few words, but he had a sign vocabulary of over 50 words and delighted in communicating with us. I was never really that interested in doing baby signing, but we introduced it out of necessity and we were so glad we did.

Joe has since grown out of signs and uses spoken language to express himself now, but we'll probably do signs with any other kids we have, since even if you don't need it, it's just fun!

P.S. The idea that learning signs can hamper language acquisition is total baloney and every speech therapist and expert we've spoken to has been ENCOURAGING of sign language use with kids who have developmental delays.

Michelle said...

Deciding to use Baby Signs has got to be one of my best parenting decisions. We barely ever deal with tantrums and frustrations from not being able to communicate. I can see how much she enjoys being able to communicate in a tactile way. It's a very clear message. Obviously sometimes I don't know what she wants, but more often than not I am able to understand her. Even the random things, like when she randomly remembers something about her shoes and her friend - she can communicate both ideas easily and I can give her the words to fill it in.

I had captured some of her signs at 18 months. She's been learning so many more signs lately. It's fun to watch how she does them change and/or become more precise.

HippyFitMom said...

How interesting that you even thought to do that. Thanks for the article.

Related Posts with Thumbnails