When all of my girls were babies, I introduced them to baby sign. All of my family thought that I was crazy. I heard everything from we were going to confuse them, that we would delay her speech, that they will communicate when they are ready and nothing that I could do would speed that up. When my oldest was six months, we were out to dinner with the whole family, she made her first sign. Actually she signed multiple words, eat more. Silence fell over our table, the family was stunned. They were honestly shocked. I was proud of my daughter, I was thrilled that she would be able to tell me what she needed and that she would have a way to talk to me. I was also proud of myself, I was proud that I didn’t listen to them and that I did what I thought was best.
She learned new signs rapidly. Before we knew it, she was signing full sentences and had over a hundred signs. Even with all the success of this, I still had many people telling me that I was delaying her speech. Why would she learn to speak, if she could communicate the “lazy” way? That I was some how hurting her, that I was confusing her by making her learn both sign and english. For the record, she was an early speaker, and way above her level in language. She speaks to groups of adults, at their level on everything from science to politics. Today, we are told how amazingly articulate she is. So did this hurt her, no I think not. But once she started speaking, the sign slowly fell away.
When I had with Belle, we did it all again. I once again had everyone telling me not to do this, that I was hindering her. Belle was a late speaker, it fueled the fire. But we kept on. In fact, Belle learned sign mostly from Tink. She relearned (or remembered) most of what she had known as a baby. The two of them would go back and forth. It was very cute to watch. But once Belle started speaking, she has yet to stop. Full sentences right from the beginning. Again though, once she started speaking, the signing started to fall away.
When I found out that we were pregnant with Baby. They both were so excited, to use sign again. They started brushing up and once Baby was here they wasted no time. And would sign right along as they were speaking to her. Again we saw the same results. She started to communicate early, and once she was speaking she was well above were she should be. This time though, once Baby was speaking they didn’t stop learning. The three of them learned together, they enjoy learning this together.
After studying more the benefits of learning ASL, I am so happy that I choose to do it. The studies have shown that babies that are exposed to sign communicate earlier, they speak earlier and are more articulate then those who don’t use sign. The ability to communicate earlier and express what they need at a younger age, might help boost self esteem and confidence later in life.
Learning ASL, takes practice, but was easier then one might think. I read all the books that I could get my hands on. One of the best books that I have read is: Easy Guide to Baby Sign Language. It is so easy to follow, and quite engaging. He makes learning this language so easy that anyone can follow along. The diagrams are easy to see what the descriptions mean.
This book skips a lot of the basics: there is no alphabet, no numbers. Before you get upset that you need to know the basics, what baby says the alphabet at six months anyways. From the author himself: “Easy Guide to Baby Sign Language” was written to help you communicate and bond with your baby before she has the ability to speak. It was also designed so information is easy to find, understand and use. There are clear and engaging illustrations, “quick-find” indexes, and even activity ideas to help you on your way. There are many benefits to using baby sign language. Whether you want to minimize tantrums, increase your baby’s confidence, or simply have fun, you’ve come to the right place.