Does anyone else sign with their kids?? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums
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Life with a Toddler > Does anyone else sign with their kids??
sozobe's Avatar sozobe 02:26 AM 10-10-2002
Oh my, I just found this one. Do I EVER sign with my dd -- I'm deaf, myself. ASL is her first language. (She's hearing.) She's been signing since she was 4 months old, and had a vocabulary of over 500 signs when she was 18 months old -- I've lost track since then. I got a lot of "yes that's nice that she signs but is she TALKING yet" for a while, and now she's talking a ton in addition to signing a ton. Sign + voice, just sign, just voice, all over the place.

In general, people have been absolutely astounded at her language abilities for a while now. I remember when she was like 14 months old and was carrying on a conversation with me at the playground -- "that baby has a pink hat. That boy's sister is tall." etc, and the other moms were just goggling.

Which is to say, I highly recommend it!! Definitely real ASL, though, with proper grammar if you possibly can, rather than some "made up" sign system.

marchmom19's Avatar marchmom19 05:22 PM 10-15-2002
hi there

My dh and I are both hard of hearing. We sign ASL with our dd who is now 2.5 years (time flies). Her first sign was at 6 month 'milk'...then the usual pattern like others mentioned of more, please, eat, etc....

Her sign vocab is so huge. She was a late talker...partly because she is being raised bilingually (or shall I say trilingually) in English and German. At the moment she signs and speaks. I am glad she is not dropping her signs like my nephew did when he started to acquire language. Instead she is constantly learning new sign words and even makes up her own signs too.

She also understands the German signs from the German Deaf here in Germany but only signs ASL signs, hard for my deaf friends since they dont understand her sign. But that is ok, its the same for those that dont understand her speaking English.

I think its great that everyone is signing to their kids. Such a reverse the past the 'specialists' warned parents not to 'sign' to their deaf and hh kids or 'they will never learn to speak' so they say. Now a big boom of encouraging parents to sign to their hearing kids as kids understand and can communicate before they can verbally communicate.

Congrats everyone to signing to your kids.

If anyone has questions with specific signs dont hesitate to ask me.

proud mom to trilingual toddler and another soon to be trilingual on the way (due jan 03)
Velveteen's Avatar Velveteen 04:46 AM 10-16-2002
We love signing! My son is 24 months old, and the talking is going slowly. This is normal for us though. Anyway, he signs like crazy! I am hurrying to check out more videos from the library and Amazon, so he can learn more. Yesterday, he bumped his head and to my great surprise he signed 'Pain', and then pointed to his head!
He told me the 'squirrel' 'walked' and ate a 'cookie' (cracker on the ground). He saw a squirrel from his high chair, and it was running along our rock wall. I am continually amazed that he is stringing sentences with three signs in a row to tell me something. Tonight he signed to me for the first time 'music', and then pointed to the radio knob. We videoed him signing many animals and objects important to him, and I'd say he knows at least 50 plus signs now. It is so exciting to see them respond. I had zero signing knowledge, so I am learning too. Now, his language is picking up speed, but I am so pleased that this has been available.
There is a website called 'Sign With Your Baby' that is helpful. The lady will demonstrate many signs, which is easier than a book..
Check out 'Talking hands' from Amazon. Very helpful. Also, 'Simple Signs', a book with great pictures just right for toddlers. Your little ones will love looking at the bright pictures too.
Kanga Mom's Avatar Kanga Mom 01:17 PM 10-16-2002
We also sign. One of our children is profoundly retarded and almost totally nonverbal. She uses sign to communicate. The other children just picked it up watching her.

Her vocabulary is fairly limited, so my children couldn't, for example, hold a meaningful conversation with a deaf adult.

My 'normal' children started signing when they were around nine months old. They probably would have done it sooner if we'd used sign with them more, but they just picked it up watching their big sister sign.

I loved the stage where they were combining oral language with sign- it's so cute.

Kanga Mom's Avatar Kanga Mom 01:21 PM 10-16-2002
[QUOTE]Originally posted by sozobe
[B]Oh my, I just found this one. Do I EVER sign with my dd -- I'm deaf, myself. ASL is her first language. (She's hearing.) She's been signing since she was 4 months old, and had a vocabulary of over 500 signs when she was 18 months old -- I've lost track since then.

Sozobe, what were your daughter's first signs? I have long been fascinated by reports that within the deaf community, children of signing parents begin signing as early as 4-6 months. I really do not think we give our babies credit for knowing as much as they know.

sozobe's Avatar sozobe 02:04 PM 10-16-2002
Hi Kanga,

Dd's first sign was "Mama", of course. Actually, that sign is thought to have come from the fact that it is one of the first "meaningful" motions that many babies make, similar to the fact that some variation of "ma" or "ba" is one of the first sounds that a baby makes, so most languages have a similar word for "Mama". After that came "Papa", then the first non-parental word was "dog." After that was "milk", "more", "finished", all of that by about 7 months, I think.

I agree about not fully realizing how intelligent little babies are. They can't vocalize, per se, but signing is a great tool for them. My daughter has been making sign sentences for a very long time (I SO have to write this stuff down), and is now telling detailed stories with sign and voice combined. (Just now: "Mama and Papa and [her name] and Grandpa go to beach. Ocean [signs 'ocean' several times, setting scene.] They see Elephant! They play with elephant. They play in ocean. They sleepy. They go nap.")

One thing that's really cool is how she is using grammar, now -- I transcribed the above approximately, but she does some things perfectly in ASL. For example, she will lower her eyebrows while saying "where's Papa's coffee?", then return them to their normal position, nod, and make an "ah" mouth when she finds it, then say "there's papa's coffee!" That's like, "I looked for Papa's coffee and found it right over there!" It's pretty complex. (All "wh-" questions should have lowered eyebrows, an ASL grammatical rule, plus the if/ then structure... argh, I'm not explaining it well, but it was cool to see.)
nuggetsmom's Avatar nuggetsmom 02:51 PM 10-16-2002
We use some signs too. It is sort of on and off. But DD (14 mo) knows bath (very helpful if I am trying to convice her to come inside-she knows a fun activity is coming), more, eat, bird, fish, and baby. It has helped me figure out what her words are. Mmmm = more, be = bird (or plane or a squirrel on the telephone wires ) Since she uses the sign and makes the same sounds at the same time. Recently she stopped using the sign for more and uses eat more. In fact her appetite amazes me.
I researched the signing some and there is no evidence of sign language delaying sound language.
sozobe's Avatar sozobe 03:01 PM 10-16-2002
nuggetsmom, right, in fact what research there is indicates that there are general lingustic gains for hearing kids who use sign (especially those who are fluent) up until about 5 years old, but it seems to level off at that point. The research isn't extensive, though, and I'd like to see more happen.
Wildflower's Avatar Wildflower 03:36 PM 10-16-2002
Hi there Sozobe--would it be possible for you to describe how your family signs Mama and Dada for me? I was interested in what you said about it being one of 'the first meaningful gestures' babies make. I looked those up on an ASL website and it showed moving your hand away from your brow for dad and the same thing at chin level for mom---is this what you meant? Thanks! DD says mama and dada but I'd still like to add those signs. She knows about 16 now.

One other yopic I'd love to get some input on from everyone is using signs to talk about emotions. I'm in a place in my life of learning to get in touch with and express my emotions in non-hurtful ways, and am seeking to get to a place where I can model this for dd, and just have a family where we are comfortable and accepting of all kinds of feelings...Anyways I was wanting to add some feeling signs...happy, frustrated, bored, scared, hurt, excited....Does anyone have any stories about how you use feeling signs? A La Leche League woman told me how once she taughter ds the sign for frustrated he stopped biting during nursing and would instead look st her and make the sign---talk about an improvement in non-hurtful communication!
Wildflower's Avatar Wildflower 03:40 PM 10-16-2002
Oh yeah, if any of you are using emotion signs, it would be really helpful if you could briefly describe how you make that gesture, too!

The idea of introducing emotion signs is kind of scay to me...I've never been comfortable with anger especially, and it makes me nervous to imagine dd signing that she's angry...but I know its the right thing to do to empower her in that way. Hopefully she'll grow up being more aware and ok with all of her feelings, and I'll grow right along with her! Thanks mamas!
hahamommy's Avatar hahamommy 04:25 PM 10-16-2002
I, too, began signing with my kids as infants. With DD I didn't intend to *teach* her, just expose her to my Deaf friends and not make accomodations for her. (I'm a *retired* interpreter, I've been signing myself since age 10, professionally interpreting since 16) At 18 mos, she came to me with a closed mouth and gestured for me to sign to her without speaking She is now pretty fluent at 6. DS was *taught* to sign, as he was soooo frustrated with not being able to speak but had a strong drive to communicate. We started with nurse (I used the baby sign for water), drink, eat, more, all-done, all-gone, cracker, mom, dad, help me (which is actually a fist planted on an open palm and directed to oneself ~ the help described above sounds like the sign for happy??) ... I can't think of the others right now, but it has blossomed to smooth communication with Deaf people and a great way for me to communicate with them in high stress situations without raising my voice
I'll try to describe some of the signs requested:
Mom: "5" hand, thumb on chin
Grandma: move "mom" sign outward
Girl: rub thumb of closed hand down jawline
Dad: "5" hand, thumb on forehead
Grandpa: move "dad" sign outward
Boy: "puppet hand" like you're grabbing the bill of a baseball cap on forehead
(female signs on lower part of face, male on upper)

Happy: open palms on chest in an upward movement (big smile)
Sad: open hands drawn down the face (sad face)
Scared: open hands on chest, shaking inwards (scared face)
Excited: "5" hand with middle fingers pointing inward to chest and hands alternating up, fingers tapping chest (excited face)

The baby signs are examples of how children modify ASL, we should, as adults, model the appropriate ASL sign (if you're teaching this as a language, not necessarily if you're aiding communication temporarily) and the children will modify the sign to their ability ~ they don't have to be perfect! My friend's daughter began signing my children's names (I fingerspell them instead of assigning a name sign) by just wiggling her fingers and pointing, now she gets a few letters in there, as her ability to form them has increased: Hannah now looks like H (wiggle wiggle) N (wiggle wiggle) H, and Hayden is H (wiggle) Y (wiggle) N; before long she'll get all the letters in to duplicate the whole handshape of the word
Heres a great animated dictionary edited to fix this link
sozobe's Avatar sozobe 04:50 PM 10-17-2002
Hi Wildflower,

hahamommy has some great explanations. The thumb-on-chin "Mama" sign is one a lot of little babies seem to make naturally. I always have ASL radar going, and I can't tell you how many times I've seen a little baby saying "Mama", then said something about it to the parent, ("Oh, you sign with your baby!") and got a "huh??" reaction. They're usually tickled when I tell them what the baby is "saying," though.

So it's a bit tricky to know when dd started signing, as she was doing the "Mama" sign very early (2 months? 3 months?) but only seemed to have some intention behind it later. Same as a ma-ma-ma-ma babbling baby.

In terms of using emotion signs, she usually does so in retrospect, talking about something that happened. However, being able to talk about it seems to really help her process it. She'll say that she cried, for example, and then explain why she cried. Then big hugs and she seems to feel much better.

hahamommy, yeah, it's great to be able to communicate "secretly" in public situations, too.
dentente's Avatar dentente 04:52 PM 10-18-2002
I began signing to my dd when she turned 7 months old. She signed back at 10 months and never looked back. She turned 18 months yesterday and has about 15 signs she uses consistently and the rest is a combo of speech and sign. We use ASL. My parents were very surprised at how well she is able to communicate her desires and observations. I think signing is an invaluable tool in helping children through the rough period where they want things but cannot express what it is they want. Fewer tantrums. Happier kids. I love it. Plus my DD can easily communicate with hearing impaired people now too. We can communicate silently when we wish to so she can ask to nurse without embarrasment and I can tell her "no" without making a huge scene. We used the Garcia book and The Complete Idiot's Guide to ASL.

JaniceT's Avatar JaniceT 03:15 PM 10-23-2002
I'm starting to sign with my nearly-9-month-old. A few questions for you veteran signers:

I've read Baby Signs and SIgn WIth Your Baby, but it doesn't explain:

1. Is there a difference between "all gone" and "all done?" If there is, I know "all gone," but don't know "all done."

2. What is the sign for "nurse?" I can only find the one for "drink."

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
hahamommy's Avatar hahamommy 03:38 PM 10-23-2002
I'll do my best to describe the signs:
All done: arms up palms toward body and fling hands outward (ASL sign "finish"); for kids, just arms up and hands waving
All gone: we do flat hand palm up, 2nd hand moves from wrist to fingertips closing, ending in a fist (ASL sign "used up")~ variation: flat hand out from mouth and puff on palm (like *poof* all gone)

We used the baby sign for water to sign nurse: index finger tapping lips ~ the sign for breastfeeding is just as obvious as saying it, nullifying the privacy aspect There are as many signs for this as there are made up words

Oh, I forgot to include crabby (one of our favorite signs) in my list of emotions: "5" hand, palm in front of nose, all five fingers "scratching" into face, as in how your face scrunches when you make the "mad face"

Facial expressions are really important, be sure your face matches your signs, kids will figure it out easily, even if they don't know the exact signs. i.e. question face always has eyebrows raised (it's considered ASL *punctuation*)

We also use ASL numbers for counting, you can begin this easily enough by using two fingers and thumb for three (the only difference 1-5), six is pinky on thumb all the way to nine being index finger on thumb and 10 is just the thumb. (the standard three is either 6 or W ~ my kids correct people regularly )
chiedza's Avatar chiedza 02:09 PM 12-23-2002
I asked this on another thread, but thought I'd ask here as well ...

What sign do you use for nursing? The one suggested for "milk" in BABY SIGNS is like milking a cow, which kind of puts me off as a sign for breastmilk. Any other suggestions?

Edited: Oops, I just saw that someone else had just addressed this above -- but, still, any other suggestions would be welcome. Thanks!
oceanmommy's Avatar oceanmommy 03:25 PM 12-23-2002
For nursing we use this:

hold hand in front of you like you are going to shake someone's hand (hand open, flat, palm facing left or right not up and down, thumb pointing up at the sky). Then curl up your fingers like you are gripping something but keep your thumb pointing up. reapeat opening and closing the fingers

IT's a bit like the milking gesture but I never think of it that way.
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