Sign Me Up! Sign Languages are for Everyone!

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Did you know that September 23rd is the International Day of Sign Languages? There are more than 100 different signed languages around the world. In the U.S. we use American Sign Language (ASL). While ASL is commonly known for being used in the Deaf community, learning and using ASL has benefits for everyone! Here are five benefits to learning and using ASL:

Children can learn and use language earlier!

While most children say their first words between 10-14 months of age, children who are exposed to even basic sign language are typically able to sign their first words between 6-8 months. They can also often combine two signs by between 15 months and 19 months! This early ability to sign saves parents a lot of headaches trying to figure out what their child wants.

It increases attention to social gestures.

Exposure to signed language draws more attention to social gestures and facial expressions. This exposure in turn helps children develop social skills earlier! For children with language or developmental delays, using sign language can help bring attention to pragmatic skills that the child might otherwise struggle to understand.

It can help ease frustration for children with language delays.

For children who might have delays in their language for a variety of reasons, using signs (or other forms of communication like pictures) can give parents a way to help their child build associations between learning language and getting their needs met. While a parent cannot physically help a child to say a word, they can help them sign it by taking their hands and making the sign. Then they can reinforce signing by giving their child the object or activity they desired. This helps build the connection and teach the child that language can be used to get what they want.

It’s helpful in noisy environments!

Have you ever been playing at a park with your child while noisy trucks go by and found yourself screaming so that your child can understand you? For young children to understand a message, adults need to be louder than the surrounding noise, because children have a harder time filtering out background noise than adults do. Knowing even a few simple signs like ‘stop,’ ‘come here,’ or ‘time to go’ can be helpful in these situations.

It’s FUN!

For kids, knowing sign language is like being in on a secret. They might use it with a parent when they’re shy and don’t want to talk around other adults. Children might teach signs to their friends to use as a secret code. They might learn to sign their favorite songs. The possibilities are endless, but it all boils down to having knowledge of something that few other people know.

 

The Clubhouse has many therapists who know and use signs during their sessions, including two therapists and an owner who are skilled users of ASL and work with the Deaf community. Are you interested in learning more about using sign language with your children? Would your child benefit from seeing a professional Speech-Language Pathologist? Contact us today to schedule an evaluation or complimentary screening!

 

By: Kate Gilliat, M.S., CCC-SLP

 

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