Friday, June 12, 2009

Sign Language

Introducing your child to sign language can be a
fun and very rewarding experience.

There are several methods of teaching sign language
to a child. Finding the right method depends upon
each child.

When my child was very little he was introduced
to some sign language by his Early Intervention
specialists. He eventually learned the sign for
"more" with A LOT of repetition and teaching. He
also learned how to sign "eat" through the use
of sign language.

I remember being very concerned when Matthew was
a small toddler/child that the introduction of sign
language might hinder Matthew's ability to develop
verbal language due to his diagnosis of Agenesis
of the Corpus Callosum. His learning style worked
best if he used one method at a time with A LOT
of repetition.

It was my fear and concern that because he is
missing his corpus callosum and because he takes
a very long time to learn something using one
method that he might be stuck in a pattern of only
understanding and learning language soley through
the means of sign language. It was a very real
concern for me back then when Matthew was much

I talked with other people and also other parents
about this concern of mine and found that other
parents who used sign language with their children
who have special needs reported that it did not
hinder or stop their child from learning verbal

Benefits of Signing With Your Child &
Video Intro to Signing Time

I slowly began to realize that learning sign language
would not delay or stop Matthew from learning
verbal language and that in fact it could very well
help Matthew to develop verbal language.

Sign language did not come easily for Matthew
though. He did learn a few signs over the years
and learned a few more in school when he got older.

Because he wasn't taking well to sign language and
it was not his most effective method of
communication, we chose to begin exploring
augmentative communication devices because
Matthew is highly motivated to push a picture
button and hear a word being said. He learns
best through both visual and auditory together
so we chose an augmentative communication device
(with the help of his Speech-Language Pathologist)
and he thrived using this type of communication.
He still uses an augmentative communication
device today.

When I removed Matthew from public school in his
8th grade year and chose to homeschool him, he
began to show an interest in sign language again
after so many years had passed of not using more
than a few signs.

It surprised me and made me realize how important it
is to never close the door on a child who has ACC
when it comes to learning something new.

I was thrilled with Matthew's new interest in learning
sign language and so we began our adventure
learning sign language together through the use
of sign language DVDs.

For my child, Matthew, who has complete Agenesis
of the Corpus Callosum he responds best to learning
sign language through DVDs, through hand-over-hand
teaching and through my own modeling of sign
language while we both watch the sign language
DVDs together.

I borrowed two Baby Signing Time DVDs from the
Library to try with Matthew and he really liked
them. In fact, we both like Baby Signing Time
DVDs so much that we bought:

Baby Signing Time Volume 1 - It's Baby Signing Time

ASL signs taught in this DVD:
Eat - Drink - Cracker - Water - Cereal - Milk - Banana - Juice - Finished - Mom - Grandma - Dad - Grandpa - Diaper - Potty - More - Bird - Fish - Cat - Dog - Horse - Frog - Hurt - Where.

Video Clip of Diaper Dance song from
Baby Signing Time Volume 1:


Baby Signing Time Volume 2 - Here I Go

ASL signs taught in this DVD:
Shoes - Socks - Hat - Coat - Please - Thank You - Sorry - Car - Train - Bus - Bike - Airplane - Boat - Ball - Doll - Bear - Wash Hands - Soap - Water - Sleep - Bath - Sleep Clothes/ Pajamas - Brush Teeth - Books - Blanket.

Video Clip of Baby Signing Time Volume 2:

What do I like about Baby Signing Time and Signing
Time DVDs?

The DVDs are fun! They help my child, Matthew, who
has complete Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, learn
sign language. They are full of music and songs.
The signs are taught through the use of
demonstration by Rachel, by showing babies and
kids demonstrating the signs, through the use of
reinforcement of both drawings and real pictures
of the sign that is being taught and there is
a lot of repetition.

I also like Signing Time videos because they help not
only Matthew learn sign language but they also help
me learn right along with him! It's great!

In fact, one of the words Matthew can sign is PLAY.
If he hears the word play or hears me spell it outloud
by saying: "Matthew: what is P-L-A-Y?" He does the
sign for "play" with a smile on his face.

We typically watch the Signing Time and Baby
Signing Time DVDs together and Matthew learns the
signs best when we watch the videos together and
practice the signs but he also enjoys watching them
by himself sometimes.

A few months ago when I walked in his room I saw
him watching Signing Time Volume 7-Leah's Farm at
a section where they were teaching the sign for
"turtle" so I asked do you say turtle?
(thinking he wouldn't know it because I haven't
really helped him with it) but he looked at me and
he made the sign for "turtle" which requires both
hands to be used together and I stood there
shocked and amazed!! Wow!

Thank you Signing Time for making such a wonderful
product that helps us both learn American Sign
Language and helps my child who is non-verbal have
another way to communicate in addition to his
augmentative communication device.

Rachel Coleman is the co-founder and creator of
Signing Time. She is also the mom of two children
who have special needs. Her first child, Leah,
was born deaf. Her second child, Lucy, was born
with cerebral palsy and spina bifida.
Read more about Rachel and her family.

There are also two additional Baby Signing Time DVDs:

Baby Signing Time Volume 3 - A New Day

Video Clip of Signing Time Volume 3 - A New Day:

Baby Signing Time-Volume 4 - Let's Be Friends

We also have some of the Signing Time DVDs, a few
of which include:

Signing Time-The Zoo Train-Volume 9

Video Clip of "Walking Through The Zoo" song
from Signing Time The Zoo Train Volume 9:

Signing Time-My First Signs-Volume 1

Signing Time-Leah's Farm-Volume 7

Matthew has learned approximately 23 signs and he
continues to learn new signs. :)

It's a great feeling when I see my child, Matthew,
using the signs he learns and know that he
understands what he is saying and is able to
express himself through the use of American Sign
Language (ASL).

Definitely check your local library and borrow
Signing Time or Baby Signing Time DVDs before you
buy to try them out with your child.

Be sure to check out Signing Time
for more information about their wonderful DVDs.

Catalog Request


  1. Nice post about Sign Language Sandie. I studied to be a Sign Language Interpreter several years ago and worked in a fourth grade classrom with a deaf student for one school year. Unfortunately in my geographical area there was not a strong need for interpreters and I could not make a living at it, and have since lost much of my signing skill.

    I did teach my grandaughter basic sign when she was a baby, before she had spoken language and she used it freely for "more", "milk", "apple" etc. I sign and sing the alphabet to Joel daily and we sign "milk" "eat" and "more" appropriately to him also. Joel really seems to enjoy watching my hands when I do the alphabet for him, his eyes light up and he gets a big grin on his face.

    We don't know yet whether Joel will have problems with his speech, he babbles but no typical "ma ma" "da da" yet guess we'll just have to wait and see and continue to incorporate sign language into our daily activities.

  2. Trecia,
    Thank you for your kind words. Thank you also for taking the time to make your comment. How wonderful that you were a Sign Language interpreter and worked for one year in a grade school classroom with a deaf student. What a great experience!

    I truly believe sign language is a wonderful gift to open the world of language to so many people. Of course, others must also learn and know sign language to be able to understand the person signing.

    It's great that you're signing with Joel and that he enjoys watching. The continuing to wait and see isn't easy but continuing to keep on teaching, helping and working with him is always worthwhile and in Joel's own time he will show you all the wonderful things he can do. :)



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