Sign Language: Top 10 Beginner Signs Every Child Should Learn!

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Bristol Title

Using sign language can serve as an important vehicle for tapping into functional communication, before children begin talking. There are several indicators you can look for, to know if your child may be ready!

Before children sign they usually are:
  • Sitting up well
  • Using two hands to hold and play with rattles & toys
  • Looking at the speaker
While there are multiple benefits for using sign language with your child, some may include:
  • Reducing frustration
  • Facilitating language development
  • Encouraging gesturing, pointing
  • Encouraging word approximations, labeling and eventual talking

When beginning to sign with your child, it is best to start with practical, everyday words. We find when parents and caregivers use the same sign repetitively in everyday situations, toddlers begin making connections and approximating the signs demonstrated by the parents or the caregivers.  While at first it may be a groping attempt, over time it becomes more refined and precise.  As you integrate more useful signs, like the ones listed below, your baby can communicate his or her desires.  Be consistent in using the corresponding sign and the spoken word, and before long, your child will follow suit! Laura Mize is an experienced preschool Speech Language Pathologist and she regularly impresses upon professionals and parents that imitating actions precedes imitating mouth movements or words! So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started learning signs that babies use regularly and get your little one talking!

Baylee stopWe love the Signing Time Video series and love even more that there are so many free downloads available.  Check the sight here for her top 10 signs and some free reproducibles, or buy some of the videos.  As the Speech-Language Pathologists in our group provide therapy for many children with a variety of diagnoses, we have found these signs to be the most beneficial ones for late talker’s, children with Down syndrome and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For a FREE printable of these signs, view the handout below:
Baby Signs Flyer2

These are the top 10 signs our therapist teach first for encouraging children to talk and communicate:
drinkcaption   eatcaption
morecaptionpleasecaption
gocaption downcaption
bubblescaption bookcaption
ballcaption alldonecaption

Ready to try even more signs to expand your infant/toddler’s communication? View our FREE printable of Top 10 Secondary Signs:
Secondary Signs Flyer

Meet Our Lead Pediatric Feeding & Speech-Language Pathologist: Melanie Coetsee

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Melanie Coetsee, SLP-CCC Lead Speech Language Pathologist

Melanie Coetsee, SLP-CCC
Lead Speech Language Pathologist

Melanie graduated from Erskine College with a BS in Biology in 1997 and received her Master of Speech Pathology from the University of South Carolina in 1999.  As our lead SLP Melanie has extensive experience in feeding therapy and has completed numerous oral motor and feeding conferences and is known in our area for her skills as a feeding specialist.  She is trained in The Beckman Oral Motor Assessment & Intervention, Talktools Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding, as well as the Talktools Oral Placement Therapy for Speech Clarity and Feeding.  Additionally, Melanie is gifted in working with clients with Down Syndrome, Childhood Apraxia of Speech and early language development.  She is also trained in Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT) as well as the Kaufman Speech to Language Protocol for children with Apraxia of speech.

Melanie served as a school based Speech Language Pathologist prior to joining her husband in the pediatric home based setting five years ago.  While working for ten years at C.C. Pinckney Elementary on the Fort Jackson Army base, she was named Teacher of the year 2006-2007.  Melanie is passionate about learning and started the Midlands SLP Think Tank for Speech Language Professionals to have an ongoing avenue to share ideas and new approaches to providing therapy.

Melanie says, “I love being a part of “firsts” for so many children as they learn to speak and communicate.  Seeing a child say her first word after months of hard work, or accept food from a spoon after months of oral defensiveness, pre-chaining, and food play is so rewarding!”  She also shares that she truly enjoys the sense of community we have with our staff and the families we serve.  Every therapist on the Sprout Pediatrics team brings unique experiences and gifts to the table and desires to know more.  Sharing expertise and therapy strategies within our speech therapy team helps us positively impact more kids and families.

Melanie is married to Rhyno Coetsee.  They have been married for 15 years and have three boys, Noah (10), Landon (9) and Bennett (4).  She enjoys cycling, swimming, running and watching her boys play ball!

Sprout Pediatrics Welcomes Pediatric Dysphagia & Feeding Therapist Rachael Whitaker to the Team!

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Rachael Whitaker, CCC-SLP Speech-Language Pathologist

Rachael Whitaker, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Rachael graduated from Furman University with a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science in 2006. She later attended the University of South Carolina and received a Master of Science degree in Motor Control and Rehabilitation in 2009, as well as a Master’s of Speech Pathology in 2013. Rachael is highly qualified, as she has most recently attended continuing education classes on Dysphagia Diagnosis and Treatment in Medically Complex Patients: NICU-Teens; The Charleston Pediatric ENT Update; Application of the Passy-Muir Swallowing and Speaking Valves; Pediatric Trauma & The Road to Recovery: Infancy Through Adolescence.

Rachael comes to Sprout Pediatrics from the Children’s Hospital of Palmetto Richland. There she saw a variety complex cases stemming from multiple etiologies. She enjoyed her work there, but looks forward to being involved in her clients treatment and seeing them progress and master goals. Rachael says, ” I love kids! I love that I can teach their families about speech and language through play. I am also humbled to have the chance to give each child the tools they need for effective and safe eating, or helping them to reduce aversions and take the stress out of mealtime for the whole family.” She shares that Sprout’s mission to consider the long term application of therapy and quality of life for each child and their family is a high value for her as well. Rachael points out, “It is so important to have goals beyond just speech, language and eating and to really focus on what those skills look like once therapy is over.”

Rachael is married to Matt (2010) and has a son named Grafton who is 17 months old. They have two
dogs, Missy and Dublin. They enjoy cooking together and playing outside. She loves to read and drink
coffee!

Wee Hands hosts Sprout Pediatrics: Encouraging Communication

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Tonya Hayes is on the far left of this photo.

 

Just last week our own Tonya Hayes had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Sara Bingham of Wee Hands! Wee Hands is Canadian based organization who exists to encourage communication in young children through sign language. Sara has a team of faculty who host and train professionals and parents alike in sign language and it’s benefits to young children.

Wee Hands also seeks to educate families and professionals who are not in the Canadian borders but are navigating I chartered waters as they live and love on their little ones who have a disability. While Sara enjoys writing a weekly blog, she also hosts a weekly Blog Talk Radio Podcast! Through social media and other relationships, Wee Hands chooses parents and professionals to interview to discuss their unique jobs and passions on air.

Our own Speech Language Assistant, Tonya Hayes, was interviewed last week and if you take a few minutes to listen you can’t help but see why we are so fortunate to have a seasoned mom who is passionate about seeing children and families make progress. Click on the link below to listen:

 

http://tobtr.com/s/6271917

 

We hope you smiled and laughed along with us as we listened. Tonya’s heart is for each of the families she is entrusted with and we at Sprout Pediatrics hope you’ll be encouraged and inspired as you work with your therapy team.

 

5 Things Reading to Babies Does for Future Speech Development!

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     Reading to babies and toddlers plays a significant role in future development of Speech and Language skills.  Many adults know it is beneficial to read to children as preschoolers, but might not realize all the learning that happens as one reads to toddlers and even babies.  Reading to babies creates connections in the brain’s circuitry that enables future learning.  Below are just a few things every parent, grandparent, child-care provider and adult should know and encourage as they interact with young children.

Do you remember the old saying that “Good habits are caught rather than taught!”  That holds true for reading to babies and toddlers.  As one reads to babies and toddlers, there are lots of subtle pre-readiness skills little ones are picking up on and beginning to do without the adult “teaching” it to them.  For example, as they are read to, they learn how to hold a book right side up or to read from left to right by watching one turn the book or point to the words at the bottom of the page.  But did you know they also learn a lot about speech and language too!

As parents read with their baby, the baby should be given an opportunity to follow simple directions.  While reading a board book, hold the pages down except for the next page.  As one bends the book slightly, the page will pop up.  Say, “Turn the page!” and help the baby use their hand to turn the page.  Also read books with textures and encourage babies to “pat the bunny,” “feel the cow,” and “touch the dog.” After reading and instructing them enough, the toddlers will begin to follow other simple directions around the house as well.

One of the first things children hear, as they listen to others talk around them, is vowel and consonant sounds as well as inflection of voice.  As babies and toddlers listen to you read, they hear inflection in your voice! They hear excitement as you say “Wow!” “oooh!” and they hear how your voice goes up when you ask a question.Reading 3

Babies learn to associate sounds with pictures and names with pictures.  For instance, while reading books about farm animals, babies see similar pictures and  hear oink, oink or mooo moooo over and over.  Over time, a synapse or brain connection is made between neurons and they begin to know the pig says oink and the cow says mooo.  Later a parent can ask, “What does the pig say?” and the child will answer correctly.  Then as further learning and understanding takes place, a parent can ask, “What animal says moo?” and the child will answer, “A cow.”

Reading with babies and toddlers gives adults an opportunity to bond.  Reading leads to talking about what one sees in pictures, what happens in the story and later what we think about the ideas presented by the author.  As we read we talk.  Toddlers learn how to take turns talking: first listening and then responding.  Quality communication always consists of these two participants: a listener and a speaker.  Therefore, adults have an opportunity to model and begin a relationship with their child as they share moments.  Future opportunities to influence the child about important concepts and character skills also abound.

Reading 4     Finally, choosing books that are centered around baby games and nursery rhymes helps the baby begin to play and interact and memorize strings of words.  Singing is vitally important to memorization and learning rote skills such as counting and the alphabet.  These two books are just a few that one may choose to check out from the library or purchase, but variety is key to keeping toddler’s interest.  Log onto this website for further tips on reading with children.  

Tips for choosing books:

Choose books that are plastic or thick board books for babies as they tend to mouth everything!

Choose books with one photo per page of actual objects. (Drawings are often not recognizable by young)

Choose books about family, animals and household objects for babies through 12 months.

Continue to read the books listed above, but add books about cars, trucks and everyday activities & places.

Choose books that move quickly! about a minute long for babies through 12 months and 2 minutes in length for toddlers.

Toddlers also enjoy books that do something! A flap book, texture book that you can feel  or a puppet book like the one pictured here.