One might think that if an emphasis is placed on manual communication, verbal communication will be delayed. In fact, the reverse seems to be true. When this issue was reviewed in Acredolo and Goodwyn's study, it was discovered that not only do signing children tend to learn to speak sooner, but by age two they have a vocabulary of 50 more real words, on average, than their non-signing counterparts. By age three, children exposed to signing had language skills approaching that expected of four year olds. In the same way that crawling seems to stimulate a child's interest in walking, signing seems to provide an excellent bridge to verbal communication.
Dr. Daniels' research with preschoolers and elementary school students reinforces the understanding that signing with speech strengthens reading and speech communication skills. Armed with the knowledge that signing can be beneficial well after a child can speak, the advantages of using an existing sign language from the start becomes increasingly clear. Without a standard, each childcare facility could be faced with interpreting a unique set of signs for each child. Using an existing language places all students and teachers on the same page and offers a foundation upon which students can continue to grow. Dr. Whaley, Dr. Daniels and Joseph Garcia all support the use of native sign languages like American Sign Language (ASL) or British Sign Language (BSL). For references to scientific journal articles click here.
The advantages of signing have been well known for years in communities serving children with language-delays, Autism, Down Syndrome and deafness. Alice Stroutsos, a Seattle-based Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in working with older toddlers and preschoolers, uses signs to help her patients who are language-delayed. She uses signing as a language-stimulation technique to help facilitate spoken communication. The technique involves using signs in conjunction with spoken language, to get her clients invested as communication partners. Once they are invested, interested, and signing, she continues to move them toward more verbal communication. Since speaking requires fine motor skills, it takes more time and practice to master than it does to replicate a hand gesture. Movements in a parent's mouth and throat that comprise verbal communication are mostly hidden from a child's view. However, signing offers a much more visual and kinesthetic means to learn each word.
The fact that neuropathways responsible for language rest upon the same neuropathways for motor coordination is an important factor. Professionals serving children with autism and down-syndrome and other special-needs have known this for years and have developed successful motor therapies for these populations to assist in their language development. By improving their motor coordination through movement exercises, they strengthen the brains capacity for learning language. Signing is an excellent way to employ motor coordination and language simultaneously. Growing numbers of professionals within these communities are recommending Joseph's program.
American Sign Language (ASL) is the third most used language in the United States. British Sign Language (BSL) enjoys comparable popularity in the United Kingdom. Since SIGN with your BABY uses native sign languages, it has been enthusiastically embraced by numerous educators and other professionals within the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities in these countries. As many as 70% of the parents of deaf children never learn the language that will most likely be their child's primary form of communication. If hearing parents of hearing babies can learn to use signs, perhaps parents of deaf children will be more inclined to follow suit. Childcare facilities are frequently faced with the request to integrate their special-needs children with the mainstream. By offering native sign language signs to children in both communities, they share a common language with which the children can connect.