Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sign language with your baby and toddler

Being a sign language interpreter, this is a subject close to my heart, so stay with me if you're interested while I burble on...

Hmmm, what do I want to say on this subject?

Because of my sign language background, signing with my babies is something I did without even thinking about it. 

It is automatic to embellish my words with signs when someone does not understand, especially as many signs are iconic, meaning they look like what they are. For example drink or mountain.

Signing with babies is meant to be good for language development, although it may set them back just a bit at the start. 
My eldest was not the first to speak in my mother's group, but he was certainly the first to let me know what he was thinking without screaming or crying, the way most 10 month olds will do it. 
One day, he heard a dog barking, then a light went on in his eyes and........dog, dog, dog, he signed. Wow, that was a very cool day for mama.

When he did speak, he took off flying and soon eclipsed all the other kids at mother's group as far as grammar, vocab and understanding went. And no, that's not due to his incredibly brainy mother's genes, ha, though I'd love to take that credit. The only other kid near him in language was a little girl whose mother was also signing with her.

The only problem is he hasn't stopped talking since he started.

The sign language of Australia is AUSLAN, short for AUstralian Sign LANguage, this is the language used by the majority of the deaf community in Australia. 

You may also come across Makaton and signed English, but neither of these is a sign language as such, with structure and grammatical rules, although they do sometimes get used in place of Auslan.

If you want to sign with your baby, toddler or child, do please use Auslan. 
If you live in Australia that is, as each country has it's own sign language, different from others in the way spoken languages differ from country to country.

There are some great resources online to enable you to do this effectively, and sometimes courses are held in various communities.

Check out the Auslan Signbank for signs, numbers and fingerspelling


Sign Planet for some good basic information and images of signs
that you can print off and use at home.

As well as signing for babies, signing with hubby has it's uses too.
It's very handy on the ski slopes when the wind is howling and you can't hear a darn thing, and it's great across a crowded room when you otherwise may have screamed out, invariably during a lull in the noise, "I'm busting for a pee, where's the freaking toilet?!"

So, if you are thinking that you want to sign with your babe or kinder, DO IT, it's very rewarding and looks cool too. 

Which of course, is what life is really all about.

Or, you could just put spaghetti on their forehead and let that do the talking.


I've now written up a page on what it's like living with a unilateral hearing loss, which is what I have....complete deafness in one ear.

You can read it here, Unilateral hearing loss? Help!

Feel free to leave a comment in the guestbook at the end too, I'd love to know what you think.


ms lottie said...

Awww, this has to be my fav photo ever! If I ever have another kidlet, I'll try signing....hmmmm, if I ever have another kidlet, I'll be signing from the psychiatric ward! (sorry, bad morning) ;)

Darroch Cottage said...

I laughed out loud at the last photograph!

I used to work with Severely Autistic children in another life, and often out only communication was signing

Kath Lockett said...

Aw Cat, I'm laughing so hard in my study I'm sure the garbos outside can hear!

...just as I was learning about sign language and admiring you for your skill and cleverness, the 'Hi' photo is snuck in. BRILLIANT!

Cat J B said...

Thanks dear ladies, I'm happy I managed to sneak that photo in for general consumption somewhere along the line, it is a fave of mine.

Hope your day got better Ms Lottie.
Laura you are a brave woman, that would have been very challenging work.
Kath, skill and cleverness is just an illusion, really it's all about playing with your food :0)

Momma Such said...

You just have to laugh at that photo of your little one with spaghetti on the head! So cute!!! :)

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