Wednesday, May 11, 2005

CBS News Segment -- sign language to babies

Sign language to babies, been there. Done that. Helped spread the word farther and wider.

A preview on the AM show highlighted an evening network news feature on the trend of teaching sign language to babies. The segment looks interesting.

I was a stay-at-home dad ten years ago. I taught my kid sign language as a baby. Same happened with our second child. We talked a good deal about this among our friends in the "communications field" -- i.e., speech, language, hearing, communications disorders, therapy, rehab sciences.

Janice L, a dear friend and former co-worker of my wife, she sang at our wedding, who works in LA at a famous medical center, gave us the first tips into what she did with her baby.

We spread the successes with other care providers we'd come in contact with. And, we shared the stories on the internet within the stay-at-home dad's network.

Plus, the kicker for us, some interns from WPSD. I hired a few different students from WPSD (Western PA School for the Deaf) years ago when our oldest was a baby. I got to sign with them. And, we got to teach and play with the baby around as well.

Kids are smart. Kids absorb plenty. Plus, babies can't make the verbal elements of the physical words. Baby talk happens because the development capability of the child. But the baby wants to make expressions and communicate. Sign language works as the child can communicate with hands before the lips can.

Finally, I always tried to sway other parents away from pet names, signs and shortcuts. This is language development. There is a sign for "cookie." Use it. Then when the baby is with the other caretaker, the same signs work.

We had about 50 signs.

Finally, I had a great experience back in 1980 as a swim coach giving private lessons to two boys, both deaf, age 8. I learned to sign with them and give them lessons. After a while, the boys and I would be able to do a swim lesson / practice, and be 50 meters away from each other. We'd be able to communicate and not need to be near each other.

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