Friday, September 7, 2012

Language: Early Days of Adoption and Signing

Signing with my girls was one of the best things I've ever done as a parent. I don't know how to sign, but learned the signs that would help my daughters communicate. I'd spent a lot of time with my sister's daughters, and observed that they communicated what they wanted and needed before they could speak. I was accustom to signing with my nieces, so it was a very easy transition to sign with my daughter, when she came home from China. Hannah's first word was "more", as in "more cheerios". Hannah had speech delays, but I found that shortly after she learned the concept of a new word and signed the word, she began to say that word within a few weeks. Signing still helped her communicate her needs, though. Sign does not delay expressive language, and it allows our kids to let us know when they want to eat, drink, want more, need help, are all done, need to go potty, and are sleepy. Surely, our young ones can't use words to communicate this, but can you imagine how much calmer your child will be when s/he can communicate these needs???

Grace picked up sign quickly, too. For about three days in China, she had no idea what I was doing with my hands. When she knew that she could sign "eat" and receive food, she was totally on board. The problem was, she'd see a sign once, and recall it, and I was still learning the darned thing! Grace kept me on my toes. Grace, at 32 months, was prepared for signs that Hannah didn't need when she came home, at 12 months. Grace was quickly signing nouns and verbs, indicating what she wanted, and what she wanted to do.

I stuck with ASL, as both my girls received early intervention services from the state, and were enrolled in early childhood programs through our school district. I'd observed that our therapists were prepared to sign with the girls, so learning signs that everyone could use was important.

Even after the girls could verbally express the word, they would occasionally sign. Hannah would sign when she was excited, and Grace would sign when she was distraught, or crying during holding time.

Also, I must say, even when my girls were way past the need to sign, it was lovely to have a few signs to direct them from a distance, if needed, such as "yes", "no","sit down", "quiet", "all done". I suppose we all get those ideas across when we need to, but I KNEW my girls knew the signs and would understand me.

Tomorrow: My Favorite Resource for Signing!


monica said...

I can't agree with you more. Learning to sign with my daughter continues to be a great tool as well as a source of bonding and entertainment. I love it when she tells me what she wants. We also get a real kick out of her inventing signs when she can't find the right one (or none of us know it yet!). I coudn't imagine parenting ANY child without it. Monica

Twice Blessed China Mom said...

It surely improved the quality of my children's lives, and mine!