Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sign language beneficial for babies in low-income families, study finds

Dear Readers,

Below you will find a recent article from the UK which highlights the advantages that signing has for infants from low-income families. It's exciting to see that others are coming to recognize the benefits to the parent-infant relationship and early language development that we've been touting for so long. My only reservation concerns the suggestion that such results are restricted to low-income children. As those of you familiar with the Baby Signs Program know, our foundational research funded by the US federal government (NIH) revealed significant positive effects of signing on language development among middle- and upper-income children. The study, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Nonverbal Behavior ( 2000) is available in full on our website, www.babysigns.com.

Happy Signing!
--Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, The Baby Signs Program

Sign language beneficial for babies in low-income families, study finds

Reprinted from Children & Young People Now (UK)

By Ross Watson 15 March 2010

Sign language used by mothers in low-income families can have a profound effect on babies' development, according to research conducted by the University of Hertfordshire.

The research, partly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will be discussed at an ESRC-organised event on Thursday called Communicating with Your Baby.

Based on a two-year study of 25 mothers and their babies, the findings suggest sign language has a significant impact on babies experiencing language delay, which the researchers claim is most likely to occur in low-income households.

The research showed that signing is likely to have very little impact on the language skills of most babies. But it suggested that sign-language classes in children's centres could have wider societal benefits for babies from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"In families where the language environment is known to be less than optimal, gesture is identified to have the potential to effectively promote better mother-infant interaction," said the report. "The appeal of the sessions is likely to attract attendance at Sure Start centres, therefore these sessions provide community practitioners with access to parents at risk and enable other services to be opened up to them.

"Through early intervention, gesture has the potential to reduce the disadvantage that children face from impoverished language abilities, and ultimately bring about lasting benefits."

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