Ever hear someone say, “Oh, signing---that’s just parlor tricks for babies. You say a word and they produce the sign. How is that any different from a dog who rolls over when you say the words?” Whenever I hear comments like this I know that that person has been around a signing baby enough to see Baby Signs in action. So, what do I say in response? I tell them the following story:
Heather, a Baby Signs instructor in Iowa, had a baby daughter who started using signs at about 10 months and became quite the signer by 14 months. It was at this point that the baby began to have what looked like severe temper tantrums. She would flail her arms and legs and twist her head back and forth, often falling to the floor. When Heather sought help, she was simply told that it was probably just the terrible-twos starting early. But then Heather noticed that each time her daughter had one of these “spells,” she would tap her index fingers together—the sign for HURT. That’s when Heather knew something serious was wrong—and she was right. Heather insisted that she see a pediatric neurologist who discovered that her daughter had Childhood Epilepsy! Fortunately, because it was diagnosed extremely early, she escaped any long term neurological problems and has done so well that she was spared long term medication.
Certainly doesn’t sound like “parlor tricks” to me! How about you?
Happy Signing! (And don't forget to visit us on Facebook!)
Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs Program (the original and onbly research-based sign language program for hearing babies)
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis