Signing With Your Child With Special Needs

Sign language–I can’t sing or sign its praises enough. Signing with my speech delayed child from the time she was an infant, helped us communicate and has played a tremendous role in her development. For those who doubt the validity of signing with your baby, the science backs it up. But I don’t need scientific evidence, the proof is sitting right beside me. 

Our daughter is still significantly delayed in expressive language, but she’s able to put together simple 4-5 word sentences. To be frank, the girl never stops talking. Like, never. It’s a steady stream of questions, comments and a running commentary of observations over here. Music to my ears. 
Do we still sign? Absolutely. You’d be surprised at how handy (pun intended) signing can be.
Last summer when the kids were out on the lake tubing, Avery signed “Stop!” to me in the boat. Then she made the sign for “cold.” 
It was too loud to hear her words over the boat motor, even if she’d shouted. Two simple signs and her message was clear. 
Potty sings are also a subtle way for her to tell me from across the park that she needs to use the washroom. So much classier than shouting, “Mom! I need to poo!” 
Lately we’ve been using the ASL alphabet to spell words. The combination of the visual (seeing the hand shape), auditory (hearing the letter sound), tactile (physically making the ASL letter) is an effective way to touch on several learning styles. 
Teach your child the letter handshapes and their sounds. Once they have mastered those, start putting together short words. 



The first few times we signed and spelled CAT Avery would say, C-cuh….A-ahhhh….T-tuh spells toilet!
Huh? Ah yes, the t-hand shape is also the sign for toilet.



If you’ve never tried signing with your child, give it a go! It’s so much fun and it’s benefits are immense. One of our favourite resources is My Smart Hands, created by my friend Laura Berg. Visit her website for lots of great info and follow her on Facebook for daily signing news and tips. 



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