Friday, July 24, 2009

Baby Sign Language in Action!

A few days ago (Monday 7/20/09 is be exact) I wrote about the wide variety of signs that babies use—that they love to communicate about lots more things beyond wanting more milk or being hungry. Several parents responded with lovely examples from their own experiences with the Baby Signs Program, including Baby Madison using signs to indicate that she understood that it was too COLD to go OUTSIDE and, therefore, not pitching a fit when Mom said she had to wait until later. I really love stories like this one because they demonstrates how baby signing enables two minds—the baby’s and the parent’s—to meet, if you will, on an even playing field and achieve an understanding. No wonder the most frequent advantage parents mention is a decrease in tears and tantrums.

Madeleine, another mom, included a link to her own blog where she not only describes in words some of her daughter Darcy’s fun times with signs, but also a wonderful video of Darcy signing. I love the video because it shows lots of different contexts in which signing occurs—mealtime, book reading, “out and about” with a great hat on! Over the years I’ve learned that many people don’t “get it” about baby sign language until they see it in action. That’s why videos like these are so valuable. Thanks Madeleine!

I’d love to hear more stories and see more videos. We need to PROVE it's not just "parlor tricks" for babies!

Happy Signing--

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
The Baby Signs Program

1 comment:

Shawna said...

I was thinking more about how signing went beyond meal times and really impacted our lives. There are three specific things that came to mind.

One is related to the "decrease in tears and tantrums", HELP. When Madison learned to sign HELP she would work on something, a puzzle or climbing a step, and I would wait for her to sign HELP before stepping in. I learned quickly to do this because it allowed her to ask when she was ready for help and avoided a potential "fit" because she wanted to do it. While she doesn't sign it, I know she asks for help when she needs it because the concept was taught to her so early.

Second are the comments I have received about how polite Madison is. Folks are so surprised when she signs/says THANK YOU, PLEASE, YOU'RE WELCOME. We started these signs when she was only 6 months old at the end of each Sign Say and Play class. Once they took hold, they were there to stay. It warms my heart now when she says "Tissue Please" or we are playing and I hand her something and she says "Thanks". Waitresses are always commenting when they ask her something, not even thinking she is old enough to speak and she says "Yes Please" unprompted. She is articulate and polite because of signing.

Third is my favorite. I think the feelings signs we learned in the first class of More Sign Say and Play have taught her to have compassion for others. The feelings and the colors taught in that first class are my all time favorite, while the most difficult for us to master, once we did, we had a great time exploring our world with them. At a mere 11 months old while flying on an airplane she heard a baby crying and immediately looked worried, signed CRYING BABY and wanted to stand up and look around for him. Now at 21 months she extended this compassion to a pinata at a birthday party. She was not pleases that the kids were beating up this perfectly pink tiara and while she had no idea there was candy involved, she cried when they finally busted it open, not from fear but from being upset. She kept saying "Broke it" over and over. She picked it up and tried to put it back together. She showed more compassion for this object than some people do for other people. I am so PROUD (She loves this sign too especially during potty time)

I am so very proud of her, proud that we were able to experience this signing adventure with our Baby Signs Instructor Beth Roland. Madison still signs everyday even though she can say everything she can sign now. At 12 months she had over 150 signs and wasn't speaking much. Boy when the words came they flooded in and now she is a chatterbox. Sometimes we play a game where I do the sign and she says the word. It is fun. Sometimes she will just out of the blue do a sign she never did as a baby, like DADDY. She started saying it before she was able to sign it so we stopped that one. Then one day I went in her room and she signed DADDY. I LOVE YOU took a long time too, difficult I think, but we never stopped that one and she finally got the pinky involved!

I sure wish I had more videos. I do know that seeing is believing because 3 families have already done the SSP classes because of seeing Madison (one in a restaurant, a lady came up to me and said "Are you talking to her? Is she talking to you? I explained what we were doing and how and she signed up that very week!) and three more are planning to when the babies get older.

My Dad thought we were crazy when we started but when he was able to actually talk to her about things she was interested in, butterflies, birds, trucks, worms, colors, he was hooked!

I am a believer for sure and appreciate this opportunity to share my story with you. Thank you so very much for all your dedication and research and passion for our babies. Your work has truly impacted the relationship I have with my only child. Sincerely, Shawna and Madison

PS Thank you for mentioning her in your latest post. I was excited to read it!