Why are we using sign when I want my child to talk?
Parents commonly have this question after initiating speech therapy services. They often fear that using sign or gesture will replace the use of oral language for their child. However, sign should be thought of a bridge to verbal communication, rather than a barrier. For late talkers in particular, using sign can have a number of benefits.
-Provides the child with a way to communicate a variety of wants and needs as speech develops.
-Reduces behavior difficulties and frustrations that can result from not having a clear way to communicate.
-Develops vocabulary by teaching a child that signs, much like words, can act as symbols for objects or actions.
Where to Start?
Signs for infants and toddlers should emphasize key content words in short, child-directed utterances. For example, the sign “more” can be used to request in a variety of instances. Choose only a few signs to start, and increase complexity as your child makes progress. When choosing these first signs, focus on ones that will be both functional and important for your child.
Helpful Hints for Signing Success
-Always model the word whenever you sign.
-Repeat both the sign and the word often.
-Make signs a part of your daily routine.
-Provide hand-over-hand assistance to demonstrate how to use a sign.
-Praise your child when he or she attempts to imitate a sign or use it independently.
-For more information on helpful do’s and don’ts, click here.