Languages Magazine

Our Sign Language Story

By Joysautismblog @joysautismblog

So I had a question on my guest blog post about sign language so thought maybe I could write a complete story of how we used sign language.

First I’m going to share my sign language resources that I have used:

When we first started with all of Adrian’s early intervention his speech pathologist recommended this website: ASL Pro and we used this site to look up many of the signs that we thought would be useful. The next site that I didn’t use when Adrian was little but that I have only recently looked at is Baby Sign Language, this is the site that provided this guest post about sign language. The last link that I wanted to share is Signing Time, I can’t stress enough how valuable and entertaining these videos are. All of our children have picked up many signs from watching these DVD’s. All my kids know who “Alex” and “Leah” are and they really love the show so I’m recommending those videos too.

All three of these websites are on my sidebar under “communication resources” so if you’re looking for them later you can check there.

Secondly I’m going to share a couple of posts that are here on my blog about sign language:

If You Haven’t Tried Sign Language…

Guest Post-Baby Sign Language-Good for Child, Good for Family

And now on to our actual experience. We basically didn’t know a lot about using sign language or the benefits of teaching our babies to sign until Adrian was diagnosed with autism. So we started introducing signs on the recommendation from Adrian’s speech pathologist when he was about 20ish months old. We started with the sign “more” I think more is perfect to start with because it’s easy for little hands to do, it’s useful in many situations, and the word more can be used for highly motivating items.

For example, their favorite food-let’s say it’s goldfish crackers, you would give them one cracker and let them eat it, when they reach for more you stop them, have them look at you, and sign “more” and also say “more?”, if they don’t imitate you do hand over hand (make their hands sign more) and then say “ok here’s more crackers” then encourage them to sign more for the next cracker…repeat, repeat, repeat.

Another example, bubbles. Kids love bubbles. Blow a few bubbles and wait, if they like bubbles they’re going to probably be looking at you like “do it again” this is where you would say “More” as you’re signing it. Then you can do hand over hand and repeat like above.

So this is how we got started, Adrian picked it up fairly quickly and this was one of the first ways he was able to communicate with us. He was completely non-verbal, PECS were a pain, and sign language really helped us so much so I truly encourage you to give it a try.

With Nevaeh we used sign language from the get-go. Nevaeh was an early talker and if I remember right she was doing some signs by six months old. As a side benefit it’s really adorable to watch a baby or toddler sign…very cute.

Another fun way to incorporate signs that we did was we learned the sign language alphabet and every night when we put our kids to bed we would sing and sign the alphabet with them. We still do it and they love it. Even the “now I know my ABC’s next time won’t you sing with me” are all really easy signs to learn.

So give it a go and let me know how it turns out!

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