April 3, 2007
Sign Language with Infants
A new wave has recently come through America. Fads tend
to come and go but there is one that seems to be sticking around.
Latest research has been showing that the teaching infants sign
language can be very helpful when communicating with them.
Take for example, mother Jennifer Neale. She started
teaching her daughter sign language at the age of only 5 months. Her
daughter was able to communicate and they both thought it was fun.
Neale noticed that her daughter’s vocabulary and communication
skills were stronger than ever. She even said that she never had
problems when trying to find out what her daughter needed or wanted.
She is one of many moms who are trying out sign language. Research
also shows that young children are able to use their hands for
movement faster then they can speak which allows them to use the
sign language. Diane Brady says, “Signing not only increases the
parents' bond and interaction with their babies, it helps reduce a
major source of tantrums and stress for infants. It also creates a
more physically expressive environment” (Brady 2000).
In the next article, a researcher named Joseph Garcia
started a business called, “Signing with your Baby”. He started this
based on watching a deaf infant use sign language to talk to his
parents. He found that around six or seven months of age, the
infants have so much going on that they want to express. Another
researcher found that deaf children are able to communicate through
sign language at the age of eight months whereas hearing children
say their first words at about twelve months. Janet Jamieson also
says this, "So
all of this tells us that the brain is actually ready to produce
language earlier than the tongue and vocal mechanisms are able to
allow the child to express that” (none). This seems to be a way for
infants to communicate what’s on their mind before they are actually
able to say it.
Another set of researchers decided to further
explore sign language with babies. Drs. Linda Acredolo
and Susan Goodwyn did a longitudinal study that showed babies who
signed understood more words, had better vocabularies and
participated in more difficult play than babies who didn’t use sign
language. It was found that babies who signed later had more
interest in books, threw less temper tantrums and bonded better with
parents. Also later, when the researchers went back to the children
at about age 7 or 8, they noticed a higher IQ in the signing
The two sets of research use different ideas for sign
language. Garcia uses the actual American Sign Language version and
Acredolo uses individual parents’ making up of the language. Either
way, it still seems to work and the infants are being able to speak
sooner. The new DVD collection called Baby Einstein also has their
own version called Signing with Baby. This too uses American Sign
Language to help infants communicate. The video has parents and
babies using sign language to express the meaning of wants and
needs. This new idea seems to have nothing but a positive effect on
all of its users.
Brady, Diane. Look who’s
talking with their hands. Business Week, 3694, 132-134.
CBC News (March 2004).
Baby Signing. April 2nd, 2007.
Talk to your baby. April