Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sign Language And Apraxia

Long ago, back in the day when my girl was barely a year old and even had a diagnosis of apraxia, we were signing with her.
At the time, I thought it was so cool that my little baby girl could tell me "milk" and "more" and "please" and "thank you" with her little hands.
She wasn't talking, but we were communicating.
Time went on and she still wasn't talking.
We were communicating, but it was hard and it wasn't the type of communication that I thought I would be having with my baby girl.
Back then, I didn't realize that I was actually paving the way of communication for her.
Back then, I just thought it was cute.
Once she hit 18 months and still wasn't talking as much as a typical child of her age, we got our apraxia diagnosis.
I spent countless hours on Google, trying to find ways to fix her and help her.
And the funny part was that many sites encouraged signing with your child.
By the age of 2.5 years, my daughter was able to sign up to 100 different signs!
People in the grocery stores were amazed at her "talent".
Family members accused me of delaying her speech even more.

What did they know?

By pairing a word with its visual cue, I was allowing my daughter to feel less frustration and to express herself.
I always gave her the verbal cue as I signed it to her, and she picked up on it very quickly.
Soon, I saw that she was attempting the verbal word as she signed.
Then, I saw the sign slowly fade as the word became isolated in her vocabulary.

Genius approach!

This was NOT the be-all-end-all-cure-all for apraxia.
What is did do is allow an avenue for myself, my husband, and my daughter to communicate while we were working on her speech therapy.

Fast forward 7 years and I am still a HUGE supporter of signing.
Whether your child can speak or not, this is a great way to facilitate communication with your baby.

A great lady named Kristy over at Hear My Hands has a wonderful site to teach you just about everything that you need to know about ASL. Here is a little about her:

HearMyHands was created 2008 after a research study conducted by Kristy at LaSalle University using sign language and hearing infants. The study was a success and HearMyHands launched from there! HearMyHands provides workshops, classes and tutoring for babies, children and adults.

Kristy is a masters level certified Signing Time instructor in South Jersey. She has been a member of the Sign2Me Presenters Network since 2006.

Kristy has her bachelors in Communication Science & Disorders and masters in Speech-Language Pathology. She is currently enrolled at Nova Southeastern for her doctorate in speech-language pathology.

Kristy truly enjoys learning the language of ASL and is eager to share that joy with others. Knowing infants' minds are like little sponges, learning ASL is just a great way to help them absorb everything they have at the tip of their little fingers.

It is people like Kristy that make our jobs as parents with children with speech and language issues a little easier.
I just wish I knew her back in 2004 when my journey just began.
You can find Kristy and her site on Facebook as well as Twitter, too!

post signature


  1. I also signed with both of my kids - the one who developed typically and the one with a speech delay. Signing is great for all kids!

  2. I also started signing with my 1st and then gave it up after he started signing back - Oh how I now wish I had continued. I am however, trying to sign with him now but because he has dyspraxia - some signs are easier to grasp than others - even if they are easy to sign, he struggles.

    My 2nd is 6months and I have started signing with him now too.

  3. This is amazing, Pattie! Speech delay doesn’t have to keep you and your child from talking to each other. Besides, it opens an opportunity for you to create an even stronger bond with her. Also, she can express herself more freely and interact with people, as she builds up her verbal skills along the way. Cheers!

    Terry Robberson @ MedCare Pediatric