The Benefits of Teaching Sign Language to Hearing Infants Essay

The Benefits of Teaching Sign Language to Hearing Infants Essay

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Existing research suggests that there may be positive effects of teaching sign language to hearing infants who haven’t yet developed vocal communication. Sign language systems have been used successfully with individuals who have difficulty learning to communicate through vocal language. In addition to individuals with hearing impairments, individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism and mental retardation have learned to communicate through signs (Bryen & Joyce, 1986). Various researches conducted on different groups of infants conclude similar results. Researchers concluded that sign language can help preverbal children with easier communication, help begin the learning process easier, and aid the development of motor skills.
The first and most beneficial component of teaching infants sign language is communication. Baby American sign language is a distinct sign language used to communicate with preverbal infants and toddlers. In recent years sign language has become progressively popular. It is intended to aid preverbal infants to express their needs and wants earlier than they could otherwise. Infant sign language researchers believe that frustration and tantrums can be averted by closing the gap between desire to communicate and the ability to do so. (Acredolo & Goodwyn, 1996; Garcia, 1999). Infants from about six months of age can start learning basic signs, which cover such objects and concepts as “thirsty,” “milk,” “water,” “hungry,” “sleepy,” “pacifier,” “more,” “hot,” “cold,” “play,” “bath,” and “teddy bear.”
Joseph Garcia, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, conducted experiments which demonstrated that infants who are exposed to signs “regularly and consistently” at six to seven months of age ...


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...ng and games, eagerly soaking up more and more signs. It creates playful interaction and a chance to glow with pride in your child’s abilities.
It’s possible that infants will take the initiative and invent their own signs. If so, use these rather than the “official” sign. It doesn’t really matter what the sign is, as long as you agree on its meaning. The child may be resistant at first, or never show an interest in signing. Children are all different and it does not by any means indicate a problem. Occasionally the infant may understand and respond to the signs without ever trying to copy them. Remember to enjoy it; you’re not formally “teaching” signs as such, just adding simple gestures to your normal speech. There are many widely-available books and websites that give more information and demonstrate the signs, as well as local baby signing groups in many areas.

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