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While everything I have read has indicated that signing does not delay speech, my 22 month old is still very dependent on signs to communicate. She has a few words and occasionally I think she is saying the word as she signs it, but it seems like she just cannot move beyond the signs. She's been signing since about 14-15 months and probably knows 80+ signs (I've lost count). She can combine signs - more nursing please or please read book for example.

I am getting worried that I did the wrong thing by signing with her and I am looking for advice. Did anyone have a similar situation? Any ideas on how to help my little one develop more speech?

Thank you for your help!
 

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Relax, don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. Signing doesn't slow speech development, it's been well proven. Your daughter is just a 'late bloomer' speech-wise, still well within the range of "normal". I know it can be tough when some kids are saying SO MUCH by this age, it's hard not to worry. But like so many development things, there is a HUGE variation in timing and it's all normal.

Look at it this way instead -- she was going to be a late talker whether you had signed with her or not. But since you did, she has the ability to communicate very well with you. Imagine how frustrating it would be for her to be almost 2 and unable to express her needs and desires! How wonderful that you've given her this gift of communication!!

Even if it turns out there's something "pathological" about her late speech (for lack of a better word), the signing is STILL a good thing. I have a niece with a genetic neurological disorder. She was 3, still unable to speak, screaming and angry all the time. Part of her therapy included learning sign. She was a new person! She could finally communicate!

In other words, giving kids tools to communicate is NEVER a bad thing. Even IF it ended up that your daughter was later to talk because of the signing (and 99% that's not the case anyway, but just IF) -- then so what? It's not like she's NEVER going to talk. Heck, she might even be using this time to really understand the language and putting it together before worrying about the additional problem of making her mouth do the right sounds, increasing her eventual proficiency.

My brother was a very late talker -- my parents probably wish they'd done signing with him! He was nearly 3, hadn't uttered a word, then one day just suddenly started in complete sentences. He was just waiting until he had the WHOLE THING figured out, rather than grasping at speech in fits and starts.

And finally, to my daughter. We've been signing with her from the get-go, she started signing herself around 13-14 months. Then she was a late talker, a real surprise to me after her early-chatterbox big brother! But she had over 80 signs, like yours, so we were fine. She did slowly start adding words, just one every few weeks or so, you know, sometimes we weren't even sure if it was a word until we'd heard it many times. Then around oh... 21 months I think... she hit her "explosion" and added 3 new words a DAY for weeks in a row.

She'll be turning 2 in a couple weeks now, and she has about a 100 spoken words, in addition to the signs which she is STILL LEARNING -- she quickly learns a new sign and incorporates it into her vocabulary. From this "dual" acquisition she's doing now, we can clearly see that she signs words she's not ready to say yet, then stops signing them as soon as she figures out how to say them.

For instance, she recently mastered all her colours. She said "blue" and "yellow" verbally and signed the rest. Then she figured out she could say "neeeeeeeen" and stopped signing 'green'. Then she started saying "wledth" -- lol, hard to transcribe that one, she says it with her tongue sticking out the whole time -- and stopped signing 'red'. Unless her mouth is full lol, then she still signs it!

Even with all the reassurances out there, I still went through a period of worry that we had "delayed" her speech by signing, but I am now fully confident that she's FINE. She speaks in 2 and 3 word sentences, has nouns, verbs, and adjectives, talks about 'sad' and 'happy'... And still signs when she can't say it. We're very sure that she would have talked 'late' without the signing, so we are SO glad that we did the signing!!

EDITED TO ADD - I should mention too that we did NOTHING with her to "encourage" her speech development. Just talking with her all the time. When she signs, we say the words. No reason to rush her or pressure her, she'll pick up speech when she's ready. Human babies are HARD-WIRED for spoken language, there's no way she's going to forego speech just because she knows some signs.
 

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Think about it this way: If you child had 80 words in spanish and only 5 words in english would you be upset?

ASL is a valid language. It doesn't mean she isn't "talking" she is just not using that much spoken english.

Now think about this, she is translating spoken english that you are using "dd what do you want to drink?" into ANOTHER lanuage *more milk please* so think about the amount of language usage her brain is doing. this will be helpful neurological skills for her to have when she's learning to read etc

(for the record, although I am an ASL student myself, and totally believe 100% everything I said above, sometimes I get nervous that ds signs and does not use spoken english yet too.)
 
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