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April 22, 2012 / tlsomm

Speaking Without Words

When my girl was just a babe in my arms, I began signing to her.  Every time she cried to nurse, I’d sign milk.  You open and close your fist as if you’re milking a cow.

ASL Milk

American Sign Language for "Milk"

I threw in 3 or 4 other basic signs (more, eat, help) just to start.  She was only about 8 months at the time and didn’t sign back until at least 12 months.  You can generally expect first signs back between 10-14, though earlier is not unheard of.  Overall, I think signing greatly helped us communicate with each other.  I had a better idea of what she wanted and she learned to shake her head “no” if I offered her something she didn’t want.

Today we went out for lunch and after asking my daughter if she had finished eating, she signed “all done”.  A woman at the table next to us was intrigued and immediately asked if she just saw my daughter sign.  After confirmation from myself she went on to talk about how she worked with Early Intervention (a service that works with developmentally at-risk infants and children) and always highly recommended signing to parents and caregivers.  Ultimately, increasing communication with your child makes your life easier.  Less confusion, fewer tantrums and all around a better relationship.

Though my daughter now uses speech to communicate her thoughts, she’ll still throw in a sign here and there.  Same for myself, as I’ll still sign an animal or two during Old MacDonald.  Wouldn’t hurt to be bilingual from such an early age!

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