Signs are considered to be words that are produced with the hands instead of the speech mechanism. They are easier for children to use that orally produced words and have been evidenced to facilitate speech production and oral word use, especially when paired with spoken words. Signs can help children express themselves, reducing communicative frustration.
When introducing signs, start with just one or two signs for the purpose of requesting, e.g., sings for more and please. (Image below demonstrates ‘more’)
Use hand-over-hand modeling to teach the signs, e.g., taking your child’s hands and performing the sign for him or her. Over time, fade the level of support you provide your child to facilitate their use of the signs. After your child becomes proficient with a requesting sign, introduce early vocabulary items, e.g., ball, car, train, music, open, eat, drink, milk, cookie, cracker, all done, help and thank you.
When practicing signs, especially when introducing a new sign, it’s ideal to have two adults available to work with your child. This way, one person can hold the toy/object that your child is requesting and the other person does hand-over- hand modeling of the sign.
The person holding the toy/object sits across from your child, at eye level with him/her, and the other person sits behind him/her, taking his/her hands to help him/her physically produce the sign!
Meal times are an excellent time to work on signs, as your baby is seated eye level to you, and is most likely motivated to ask for favorite foods! Check Out This Video of a Baby in Action!
Chatterboxes offers quality Speech-Language & Occupational Therapy in Boston and Lexington, MA. We also offer flexible service options for your family. Call us today at 617-969-8255 or visit us at 121 Mt Vernon St, Boston, MA 02108 and 35 Bedford Street, Unit 6, Lexington, MA for our Lexington location.