Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sign Language as a bridge...

I know I've blogged about this before (forgive me, but I don't have time to find the link back to it at the moment...Christian is eating soup....any Mom knows that toddlers and soup is a gamble), but I wanted to bring it up once again.

I know that there are many different therapy options and choices out there when it comes to teaching our Cochlear Implant kids to listen and speak. I know when I was first researching therapy choices that I came across the notion that using signs in a CI home would only hinder my child's language acquisition. I am SO thankful that my husband and I completely ignored that nonsense. Christian's progress is amazing, and I do attribute much of it to using sign language as a bridge to spoken language.

Since the beginning, Christian has ALWAYS accompanied his signs with the word (or approximation of the word) that corresponds. We've always spoken to him while we signed. With his CI, when we have noticed that he had a bit of a problem grasping or understanding a concept, we sign and speak. And it seems that when he is able to associate a sign with a word, it just CLICKS.

I know every family and every child is different, but I would like to encourage families to explore using sign language to help foster language acquisition. From our experience, it's done nothing but complete help our little guy. Take a look at his spoken language list to the right of this blog...I love to brag about how well he is doing, and I feel like he is proof that sign language DOES NOT hinder language acquisition.

5 comments:

Amy said...

How true!!! I am a speech pathologist and my husband is a pediatrician. Before we found out our first son was deaf, we were planning on utilizing sign language with him! After his diagnosis we were even more dedicated. Today he is fully mainstreamed into a regular first grade class with no additional services. He is reading at the highest group and is truly amazing. When our youngest son was born with a sever to profound hearing impairment (very similar to how you describe Christian's) we went back to our signing roots and are now taking a weekly ASL class. We have learned SO much since we began in February and our son, Luke is reaping the benefits. Thanks for this amazing post!!!

Sandra said...

I totally agree. When our daughter got implanted, we were encouraged NOT to sign. However, we continued signing, I took sign language at the local college to teach her even more and it has done nothing but help her. Jazzie is now 5 years post activation and is doing extremely well in a mainstreamed environment. To me it only makes sense to sign and say the word, so the child knows what you are talking about.

The "experts" disagreed with our choice, but Jazzie is proof that what we did was the right thing.

Abbie said...

I agree with you 100% I was one of those children where my parents were told not to use sign. The school refused to as well. However, I was completely left with no hearing and no valuable communication tools as a result. I had lipreading but that didn't do me much good because you need SOME auditory input. Just because a child is implanted with a CI does not mean they are going to be exactly like a hearing child, they will still have problems understanding in noise and etc. It is that little bit extra with ASL that will help in a noisy restaurant or across the playground.

leahlefler said...

Nolan's similar to Christian. His first words have almost all been ones that he signed first. And he will verbalize as he makes the sign (he says "mmmm" when signing "more"). Every kid is different, but it is definitely helping Nolan.

AJ's Mom said...

Thank you thank you thank you for posting this! We just had our surgery consult for AJ's 1st implant, now we are just waiting on insurance pre-auth (groan). We hear so much about going AV and felt like continuing to use sign would hold AJ back. I also though about this when you posted about Christian at the playground...how will we be able to communicate with AJ in similiar situations if we don't continue sign. We plan to do a "sandwich approach". I love your blog!
Heidi