Have you used/would you use sign-language with your speech-delayed toddler? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-11-2012, 11:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you used sign-language with your late-talking child? Why did you? How much (just nouns, or full-on conversational)?

How did it turn out?

 

I have another thread running up here about my son, almost 3, but thought I'd address this one separately.

My son talks 24/7, has a great vocabulary, but is delayed in communicative-speech and has real pronunciation issues (limited and repetitive consonants).

 

But he Loves to Learn and show off what he knows!

He has a hearing-impaired friend in his daycare and they've been watching sign-language videos. He Loves it! Completely mesmerized (so I'm told) and loves to share with me the new colors and nouns he's learned. So... I've downloaded an app to teach ME a bit more.

 

I see a few things here... and am really interested in your insights...

 

1 - sign-language would be amazing to know, PERIOD. For me, my son, for everyone in the world. 100% awesomeness.

I love to learn, he loves to learn, why not.

 

2 - it could really help us... if we could learn enough. Right now the agak-agah-kah-ga-cak with excitement... yeah, I wish I knew what he was saying! But that might, realistically be the entire world of sign-language. He's telling me a story in his fantastical 2 1/2yr old brain. That would require extensive knowledge of sign-language . His simple nouns and most day-to-day speaking... I understand. For it to HELP us, we would both have to know So Much beyond just nouns and simple statements.

 

3 - Is there any way that learning sign-language hinders verbal speaking? Maybe I don't know enough about child- and speech-development... is all knowledge just knowledge? Like learning two vocal languages, one does not negate or hinder the other, right? Or could sign-language become a dependence that tells you... learning vocalization isn't so important because she understands my hands.

 

Right now we're having fun with colors and nouns. And he's become more adamant about it, when I say "Stop"... he makes the sign back to me like... mommy, say it This Way. So he's totally in to it, but right now it's more for fun. I'm just curious about moving forward.

 

TIA


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Old 07-12-2012, 05:05 AM
 
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Originally Posted by JordanKX View Post

Have you used sign-language with your late-talking child? Why did you? How much (just nouns, or full-on conversational)?

How did it turn out?

 

...

 

2 - it could really help us... if we could learn enough. Right now the agak-agah-kah-ga-cak with excitement... yeah, I wish I knew what he was saying!

 

.....

3 - Is there any way that learning sign-language hinders verbal speaking?

 

 

I did use some signs with my DD for communication. Our signing was very focused on things she needed to communicate -- what she wanted and very basic feelings.

 

For us, it did help with her frustration. However, we were going for something far more simply than you are suggesting.

 

I don't know if developing more sign language and really focusing on it would hinder speech development -- I think a lot would be depend on why the child had speech issues in the first place, and if the time spent learning ASL were taking over time that would have been spent working on speech.

 

I don't feel that the few signs we learned were in anyway a hindrance, but you are talking about trying to get him fluent in ASL, which is a very different level of effort.


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Old 07-12-2012, 09:52 AM
 
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We did sign language with DS before he was able to communicate verbally.  He has autism with dyspraxia and hyperlexia (early reading combined with delayed verbal language). So he could read at 2, but did not talk at all until he was almost 3.  Even then, most of his speech was echolalia, so not really communication.  We used sign language because it was very frustrating not having any way to communicate with DS.  We felt that having a way for him to express his wants, needs, and ideas effectively was more important than just focusing on verbal language.

 

We started trying sign language around age 2.  DS was not receptive at first. We did it at home, his private speech therapist did it with him, and his EI therapists did it. DS would do a few signs back, but would not use them spontaneously.  So the EI therapists started teaching him (and us) the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).  DS caught on very quickly to what he was supposed to do, but he made it clear that PECS was not his preferred method of communication.  Every time we introduced a new picture card, DS would start doing the sign for that object instead. It was frustrating because neither system really seemed to be working.  Since DS was an early reader, his speech therapist decided to teach him the manual alphabet (ASL).  That really sparked his interest in sign language. After that, he started signing a lot, using both word signs and spelling things out.

 

By the time he started talking, DS knew over 300 signs (I stopped counting them after that). His signing vocabulary included nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and basic phrases such as "I want..." .  He could sign whole sentences. The two most important signs for him were "milk" and "help" - those two alone seemed to reduce his frustration level by half.  He used the signs for "Mommy" and "Daddy" long before he spoke those words to us. We discovered fascinating things about our son, like the fact that he often thought about airplanes and that he believed milk should always be served in a blue cup.

 

When he started talking (beyond echolalia), he used a combination of signs and spelled out words. Often he signed half the sentence and spoke/spelled half, for example he would sign "I want" and say "B-A-L-L" (spelled out loud).  We had to teach him talk in actual words instead of rapid strings of letters (that was the hyperlexia at play) and signing helped with this. For a while DS spoke and signed this at the same time.  As his verbal language improved he gradually dropped the signs.

 

I don't think signing hindered his verbal language at all. In fact, I feel that signing helped his verbal development a lot.  For one thing, it gave DS a way to communicate and showed him what communication could do for him.  This made life in our household so much easier.  Then when he started talking, he already knew how to put words together. Signing helped him organize his thoughts into verbal words.  Signing helped us understand what he was trying to say when his speech was unclear, which again cut down on his frustration and made his early attempts more successful. 


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Old 07-12-2012, 10:00 AM
 
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ASL didn't appear to hinder my son in any way.  He was a late talker anyway, so we added in signs.  He knew about 400 by age 2.  When he finally started talking at age 2 1/2 (in full sentences practically overnight), he dropped the signing and never looked back. I tried to keep him signing as well because I feel it is a very useful language to know, but he refused. 
 

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Old 07-12-2012, 01:42 PM
 
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Very interesting discussion, I was actually looking into trying signs with my dd as well. I wonder if it would work with kids whose main problem seems not to be inability to communicate but rather a lack of desire to?

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Old 07-12-2012, 02:13 PM
 
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My ds1 has a lack of desire to communicate, he is ASD. We modeled signs and modeled signs, myself, his sitter, and his therapists. And we watched Signing Tiine. After six months he eventually started to use 3. And that was it. Never would use any more, that lasted about a year and then he stopped using them. I am sure that other children may pick them up easy and WANT to get their wants/needs/desires around but my DS1 does not care to communicate most things. He does not ask for food, drink, he would rather go to bed starving then to sign or talk. He is 3 now and we no longer attempt to sign with him.


If he would communicate with sign I would gladly sign. I see nothing wrong with it and neither has any of his therapists over the years. I feel that it just gives them another way to communicate.

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Old 07-12-2012, 06:14 PM
 
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We did use some sign language.  Our son was born deaf and got cochlear implants at age 1 and was able to hear by age 12 mths.  We used sign language to help bridge the signs to spoken language.  We mostly did nouns and did not progress to anything more.  I want to learn and for him to be fluent, but right now, we just don't have the time to add something else to our lives to learn.  We do still use some signs, especially the important ones for when he is too far to hear us or when he has his implants off like swimming/bath.  We mostly use stop, no, come, enough, bath, and a few others.  Those are all for safety though since he IS a deaf child.


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Old 07-12-2012, 09:07 PM
 
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Hi.  Our son lost his language skills at 15 months and after tons of testing, we were told he may not regain them and ASL was recommended to us by our pediatrician and a neurologist.

 

While we haven't accepted the outcome the "experts" are giving us, we have been learning sign language.  We purchased some cards and dvds from www.signingtimes.com.  They also have some information there which addresses some of your questions.

 

He has caught onto signing so quickly.  He is now 21 months old, still non verbal but is able to communicate to me by signing more, drink and eat.  This helps us to communciate.

 

We are also treating him "naturally" with nine supplements everyday and a special diet and hoping, wishing, being positive and praying his language comes back.

 

I hope you find the answers.

 

Best wishes!

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Old 07-12-2012, 09:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kuba'sMama View Post

Very interesting discussion, I was actually looking into trying signs with my dd as well. I wonder if it would work with kids whose main problem seems not to be inability to communicate but rather a lack of desire to?

 

 

My DD didn't see much point in communication. Her most used signs were "thirsty" "more" and "tired."  I am amazed and the number of signs that some of the kids on this thread learned when they were so young, because she really lacked the motivation necessary for that. However, I'm glad that we learned and used the signs that we did because they provide her with a tool to communicate what little she wanted to communicate.

 

(BTW -- my DD is 15 now and capable of verbal communication. She is still extremely quiet, but can say what she chooses to. Sometimes she is difficult to understand, but not usually. Most adults find her delightful to talk to, as she has an interesting point of view from doing so much observing. Just wanted to send out some hope goodvibes.gif)


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Old 07-12-2012, 10:24 PM
 
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We use it, and I highly recommend it.  The Signing Times series is great.

 

 

 

3 - Is there any way that learning sign-language hinders verbal speaking? Maybe I don't know enough about child- and speech-development... is all knowledge just knowledge? Like learning two vocal languages, one does not negate or hinder the other, right? Or could sign-language become a dependence that tells you... learning vocalization isn't so important because she understands my hands.

 

 

Studies have shown that the use of sign language actually HELPS with verbal speaking, not hinders.  It also helps prevent a lot of frustration on the child's part.


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Old 07-15-2012, 10:05 AM
 
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We used signing with our son, 3.5.  I am very, very glad we used sign with him - I credit it with reducing his frustration and I am 100% convinced that it helped his language development.  Our developmental ped, SLP, and pediatrician all agree that signing will not hurt language use and can often help it along.  That is definitely what we've seen.  In fact for our DS I think signing is the first way he learned most of the words he knows now - then he slowly shifter from signing to speaking them.

 

We used the Baby Signing Time videos.  We didn't really start until he was almost 3 and I wish I had started using sign much earlier!

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Old 07-16-2012, 05:19 AM
 
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I think the signing would be just like any child in a bi-lingual house: the words in both languages (spoken and sign) would come along in a parallel manner, not hinder each other.  My youngest had an extreme expressive language delay with auditory and phonetic processing issues.  Like the OP, he had plenty of desire to communicate but the words came out very scrambled and hard to understand.  We didn't use formal ASL (although I was familiar with the modified used in Down's from work) but just simple signs.  It did help a lot with the frustration.  At age 8, he still has some issues with word retrieval and will use signs to help himself get a point across.

 

A word of encouragement: when things come along it can come quickly.  Our son was testing at only age 2.5 for expressive language when he was 5.  This year, at age 7, he tested in the average range for his age in everything speech related.  Use your professionals and keep plugging away, and talking, and describing.  DS can have the most beautiful sounding descriptions right now, because he's learned to find words by seeing where they fit in with the world.  Categorizing and comparing really helped him come along, as did eventually learning to read (this made the biggest difference).

 

About whether it would work with kids who aren't desiring to communicate and on the spectrum: Most kids on the spectrum have limited use of signs and gestures, so I don't think it would make as much a difference if that was the issue.  My oldest son (no speech or cognitive delays) is on the spectrum and sometimes, even at age 12, he still doesn't register that when I'm pointing it's at an object I'm speaking about.  "Look where I'm pointing" doesn't even always work.  ASD affects all communication, not just speech.
 


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Old 07-16-2012, 09:26 PM
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You only need about 20 or 30 signs for it to be a highly effective communication tool.  I used simplified baby signs with my late-talking toddler and it was wonderful.  There is quite a bit of research demonstrating that sign language actually supports more rapid development of spoken language - there is no hindrance.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  You can get baby sign books and DVDs from your local library.


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Old 07-17-2012, 08:52 AM
 
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My DD didn't see much point in communication. Her most used signs were "thirsty" "more" and "tired."  I am amazed and the number of signs that some of the kids on this thread learned when they were so young, because she really lacked the motivation necessary for that. However, I'm glad that we learned and used the signs that we did because they provide her with a tool to communicate what little she wanted to communicate.

 

This is how it went with my ds as well. I wish he had gotten as much out of it as some children here.

 

I've never heard a parent story that had an example of sign language actually harming language development. If it could cause a delay, like a pp I would think it would be similar to what happens in a bi-lingual household of 2 or more verbal languages. If if sign-language did cause a slight delay I think I'd rather deal with that than the behavior issues that can result from difficulty communicating.


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Old 07-17-2012, 12:28 PM
 
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We used basic ASL with all our kids when they were younger as a way of helping them communcate.  So when we had a SN child who had a hearing impairment we were so grateful that we had a basis to start off with.  It made a HUGE difference for him in helping with frustration on both our parts.  We were encouraged by other parents and specialists that workd with him that he was making huge improvements in other developmental areas because he was able to communincate with us.  Knowing his wants, needs,dislikes helped to furthur his therapies.  We exclusively used asl and a pic board for the first few yrs as he was able to acquire hearing and so our goals shifted to supported his verbal and receptive language skills.

 

we started off with basic signs, foods/toys/daily living type items (diapers,mom,dad,toy) and once he mastered those we moved on to things like adding "more" "toys"   or "more" "food"   and then to a little more complex stuff like "x" "sad" "all done" "ice cream"   we really didnt push the whole complex grammar side because we knew that he would be moving on to supporting verbal language skills.

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Old 07-17-2012, 10:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is all very encouraging, and I'm so glad I posted about it.

 

I'm having a ball learning from random apps I've downloaded - will look into SigningTimes because that seems more formal and purposeful. Thank you for that!

 

I still wonder that for US it will require so much knowledge to be useful, but like a second language (ANY second language...)... TRY, incorporate, see how it works. He has so many words, but because they're all the same consonant, you don't know if it's light or fight or even Truck sometimes, if he's tired and the vowel isn't there. If we had more signs... ah, could be amazing. And even if it's not "amazing"... I still think incredible knowledge.

 

If you have any ideas for apps and sites... the few apps I've downloaded (beyond the free, although I haven't expanded too far in price) are really cheezy, just an app to their uTube videos. I'd like something DS and I can do together. Again, will check out the SigningTimes.


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Old 07-20-2012, 04:46 PM
 
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Have you used sign-language with your late-talking child?

 

Yes!  He actually initiated it...he saw a baby signing book on the shelf at the library, wanted to look at it, and insisted we take it home. He really caught on fast, and I decided to roll with it.

 

Why did you?

 

I noticed he was getting really frustrated by his lack of ability to communicate verbally.

 

How much

 

Just a few "high frequency words"  (the 10 things he needs to say the most).  Mostly nouns and a few verbs.

 

How did it turn out?

 

He's been using them consistently for about a year, and is now vocalizing along with signing about half of the time.

 

Is there any way that learning sign-language hinders verbal speaking?

 

According to research, no.  In my experience, no.  I'm guessing its because being understood is very motivating, and it reverses the "shutdown" tendency that poor communicators have when they aren't being understood.  (You also see this in second language learning if it's not going well).  Because it takes less effort to talk, eventually the child substitutes speech for the signing when they feel like their speech is good enough.  This is also true for PECs and other augumentitive speech systems.

 

Or could sign-language become a dependence that tells you... learning vocalization isn't so important because she understands my hands.

 

No, because unless you live in a majority deaf community, the child will realize most people don't know how to sign, and will still need to learn to speak.

 

 

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Old 07-21-2012, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you used sign-language with your late-talking child?

 

Yes!  He actually initiated it...he saw a baby signing book on the shelf at the library, wanted to look at it, and insisted we take it home. He really caught on fast, and I decided to roll with it.

 

Why did you?

 

I noticed he was getting really frustrated by his lack of ability to communicate verbally.

 

How much

 

Just a few "high frequency words"  (the 10 things he needs to say the most).  Mostly nouns and a few verbs.

 

How did it turn out?

 

He's been using them consistently for about a year, and is now vocalizing along with signing about half of the time.

 

Is there any way that learning sign-language hinders verbal speaking?

 

According to research, no.  In my experience, no.  I'm guessing its because being understood is very motivating, and it reverses the "shutdown" tendency that poor communicators have when they aren't being understood.  (You also see this in second language learning if it's not going well).  Because it takes less effort to talk, eventually the child substitutes speech for the signing when they feel like their speech is good enough.  This is also true for PECs and other augumentitive speech systems.

 

Or could sign-language become a dependence that tells you... learning vocalization isn't so important because she understands my hands.

 

No, because unless you live in a majority deaf community, the child will realize most people don't know how to sign, and will still need to learn to speak.

 

 


Yep.

Love your responses. Clean and clear.

 

Again, we're having a ball so far. But I still think I have so much to learn. to find the words that he says that I don't understand...is almost learning an entire 'nother language. But just the 30 words so far, really promising. And he Loves it. Again.... I think knowing ASL would be a benefit to all humans (oh lawdy don't I wish i knew Spanish as well.... such kudos on a resume and just great with the overall world of understand a global perspective). So, we're working on it.

 

I need to get over my fear that signing will hinder his speaking. Thanks!


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