Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Cat by Any Other Name is Still a Cat…Sort Of

Every once in a while, I use my weekly blog to share stories that have come to us from parents who have enjoyed our Baby Signs® Program, each one illustrating how creatively babies use signs. The following story is another example, this time demonstrating that a baby’s use of signs often provides a window into how smart babies can be.

Sixteen-month-old Sara had learned a sign for CAT that involved stroking the back of one hand and arm with the opposite hand, all the way from finger tips to elbow. She used the sign a lot, her cat “radar” being in evidence as her mom read her books or took her for walks in the neighborhood. It’s amazing how many cats there are in the world once a toddler starts looking for them!

On one occasion, however, it wasn’t a full grown cat that caught her attention. In the local vet’s waiting room was a box with four kittens. These were the first kittens Sara had ever seen, and she was clearly fascinated. As usual, Sara turned to her mom to tell her, with a sign, what was in the box. But it wasn’t the usual CAT sign. Instead of a full swipe from finger tips to elbow, with a smile of wonder on her face, Sara substituted a tiny swipe just the length of her fingers. Her message? Big sign is to big cats as tiny sign is to tiny cats! In formal logic terms, an analogy!

Happy Signing (and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook)!

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis
Co-Founder, The Baby Signs® Program
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