Sunday, December 15, 2013

Signing: A Priceless Gift for One Little Girl

I remember once overhearing 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 never been around a signing baby long enough to see signs in action. Anyone who has knows that the magic of signing is that it enables babies who have few or no words to tell us what’s on their minds.

But how, in the moment, to make this point real to people who say such things? Simple! 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! And it’s because we know that the signing experience can make an important—and sometimes life-saving—contribution to a child’s life that we are trying to raise funds to enable us to bring the magic of signing to low income, teen, and foster families, as well as families in the military. Please help us with a holiday gift of your own by visiting our Baby Signs Scholarship page. And if you can’t help monetarily at this time, you can still help by telling your family and friends about this worthwhile project.

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


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