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

Challenger Club Meeting: Kim Conant, Special Needs Coordinator

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kim conant

We cannot begin to tell you how thrilled we are to have this great resource come share with all of you! She is an invaluable resource to us here at Sprout Pediatrics and I know you will learn so much if you choose to invest in attending our next Challenger meeting! So won’t you please join us at the next Challenger Club meeting located at the Northwest Family YMCA. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 19 at 6:30 pm. You will have the opportunity to form connections with other special needs families, as well as acquire resources for the special needs community. Childcare will also be provided for this event.

Kim Conant (LPN), Palmetto Pediatrics’ special needs coordinator, will be discussing how to ensure your child is receiving the care that is needed, by coordinating care with your pediatrician. Kim Conant has experience working with over 1,000 special needs families at multiple offices in the area. In addition, she also has over 20 years of experience in pediatrics and the multifaceted nature of caring for families and children with special needs.

Her position allows for one person to be the primary facilitator for the care that your child receives. Kim coordinates the care of your child with the pediatrician, as well as multiple specialists within the medical community: such a therapists and physicians. She has a vast network of community resources at her disposal! Kim will also discuss the aspects of care one should expect from his or her pediatrician, in order to create the best outcome possible for your child. A family from the community will also share their experience of working with the office over the past 7 years.

Feel free to share this information with others and we look forward to seeing you there!
Challenger Club Flier

Welcome to 2015: Pediatric Therapy in Columbia, S.C.!

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We at Sprout Pediatrics are excited for a new year! A new year is a new beginning.  A time to start again.  A time to start something new.  A time to start fresh! While we at Sprout Pediatrics are always improving and expanding our company, we thought sharing out mission statement and why we chose specific words in the mission statement would help you understand our core values as a company as well as individuals!

Rhyno and Melanie co-treating with Steven!

Rhyno and Melanie co-treating with Steven!

“Sprout Pediatrics exists to cultivate hope in children and their families for a full life experience by surrounding them with innovative therapy, engaging education and connection within their community.”

Sprout Pediatrics began in April of 2012 and over the past few years, developed the mission statement above.  We choose to spend time and effort in developing those three key components: innovative therapy, engaging education and connection within the community.  You see, we don’t want to float from house to house and just deliver therapy. No! We want to deliver innovative therapy! Therapy that engages the clients we serve, as well as educate their families and other professionals we work alongside.  We also want to help families see the opportunities and places within our community that will also stretch and develop our clients.  After all, the end goal is a child who graduates from therapy and is filled with hope for a full life experience in the world around them!

So as we begin a new year, we are beginning something new! Actually, several somethings new!

  • We have a new office with a place for therapy! We’ll share more about this in the weeks to come.
  • We also are partnering with the YMCA of the Midlands to continue encouraging children to get #Sproutfit by being a part of sports team. The Challenger league is especially designed for kids who might need a “buddy coach” to help them participate with typical kids playing soccer, basketball and baseball.
  • The YMCA is also hosting a monthly meeting with speakers who will share specific information for families who have children with special needs.  We’ll post specific topics and dates soon!
  • Milestone Monday will be a blog we post monthly but highlight all through the month on Monday’s! We’ll share typical milestones, things you can do to encourage development and give you an opportunity to ask questions.

We hope you will follow us on Facebook, Linked In, Instagram and Twitter as we share success stories and educate through each of these social media outlets.  Let’s make it a great year!

NorthWest Family YMCA Pumkin Run 5K and Kids Fun Run

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Pumpkin Run Title

Hi Friends of Sprout!

It is that time again when we are creating a team to participate in the NW YMCA Pumpkin Run! Sprout Pediatrics once again is a sponsor for this great race that involves the whole family and includes a 5K run/walk ($20) and a kids fun run ($10 and less than a mile long). Last year our team had 100 participants from ages 2 to 70 including adults and children with disabilities doing the kids fun run with a chaperone. Our goal was to create a buzz through our #Sproutfit campaign for more inclusion, adaptive sports and programming. Did we ever! We had a great turn out and some heartwarming stories that followed.

Throughout this past year, we have met with the NW YMCA branch to develop plans and are very close to making some big announcements that will focus on serving families with special needs in our community with intentional programming! We have initiated a pilot program this fall that allows four children with special needs to participate in a regular soccer league with the aid of a volunteer called a Buddy!

Your participation in the race will help us move towards our goal to birth this program that will be funded by donors and events such as the Pumpkin Run.

Our goal for this year’s race is a team with 200 members made up by children and adults able and challenged. Sprout Pediatrics is committing additional funds that will be earmarked for this programming! Will you help us?

THE DEADLINE TO SIGN UP IS OCTOBER 10TH
We are creating Team Sprout stickers for race day to designate our team this year.  Hope to see you all there!!

Instructions to sign up with Team Sprout for the 2014 Pumpkin Run:
-Go to: http://www.strictlyrunning.com/gpscrlgnReg-9f.asp
-Click on YMCA Northwest Pumpkin Run, first, last name and date of birth
-Click on Group Registration and add to an existing group/team
-Click on Team Sprout and enter Captain name/email “rhyno77@gmail.com”
-Fill out your personal information and choose 5k run, 5k walk or kid fun run (if you are doing this with your young child as a helper you only need to register the child), T-shirt size
-Go to the next screen and pay to check out.

Thanks again for your support in this endeavor!

Do’s and Don’ts of Sign Language with Young Children

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Julieanne signing title

 

If you are a parent or professional working with typically developing young children or children who are challenged, you have probably been introduced to the notion of using sign language with them.  As a pediatric team of professionals, we find sign language to be the one of the most exciting skills children learn and grow from using.  We use sign language with our late talkers, our children who have signs of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, Down Syndrome, Autism, and many other developmental and genetic disorders.  Here are some do’s and don’t of using sign language with young children.

Do introduce sign language as a way to give them a way to communicate their wants and needs.  Some of the first signs we teach are milk, cracker, more and cookie! We find both the Wee Hands Online Dictionary and the Lifeprint websites to be invaluable! If a client is frustrated or expressing an extreme desire for a given object, we can quickly plug in the word and see a picture or video of the sign. While the Wee Hands Dictionary is good for the most useful toddler and children’s signs, some of our children might love grapes and this sign hasn’t quite made it to the dictionary and the Lifeprint dictionary is more exhaustive.

Don’t teach words that aren’t useful or don’t mean anything to them.  If you are interested in learning specific words from a local professional here in the Midlands of South Carolina, we recommend the Signing Time Instructor – Jill Eversmann.  Click this link to learn more about the classes she offers!

Do hand over hand demonstrate how to sign a word.  Take their hands and do it with them and then stand in front of them and sign it again so they can see you doing the sign.  It might take you doing it with them 7-10 times before you see them attempt to do it but then again, if it’s a highly motivating food, we have seen boys sign “candy or cookie” after one demonstration!

Don’t think they won’t sign if you have been trying for several months and not getting any results. Toddler’s need to be sitting up independently and be able to bring hands to mid-line to do many signs, so if you begin before these motor skills are possible, you may frustrate yourself.

Do clap and praise them as they begin imitating and using the signs spontaneously! When toddlers begin using signs spontaneously, care givers and parents can begin expanding their vocabulary to words like: stop, mine, please, thank you and night night! These powerful words give them a voice in their day to day lives and parents often report seeing their toddlers less frustrated.  If they do continue to pitch a fit or whine, encourage them to use their words.  Model the sign for what they want and make them sign so they can begin to see the usefulness.  If you had a typically developing 3 year old, you would not allow them to cry and whine but would expect them to talk to you.  Expect no less from a child who can sign, just adjust the talking to signing.

Don’t put them on display and have them perform for grandparents and friends.  Allow them to show what they know as they request and use it naturally.

Do verbally say the word you are signing and expecting your baby to sign.  As your baby begins to sign more and more and develop a vocabulary of 15-20 words, you will begin to hear some verbal approximations for the words they use most often or hear most often.  They may say “muh” for more or “bah” for ball.  Some later word approximations might include “op” for stop, “peas” for please and “tan too” for thank you!  One of the common questions we get is “Will they ever talk if we teach them signs?” Absolutely! Sign language is just a visual and kinesthetic way to help facilitate your baby’s language skills.  Teaching your baby to sign won’t keep them from talking any more than teaching them to crawl will keep them from walking!

Don’t discourage signing or verbal approximations! Toddler’s and young children often do not have the motor skills to precisely sign or say words, but accept their effort and know that they will get better and more articulate.

Take a look at this video and watch this two year old girl with Down Syndrome show you all the signs she knows on command!  It’s difficult to hear but she signs grapes, please, milk and stop!

 

A few other useful signs we encourage through therapy are: help, open, close, book, on, in, dog, bird and music!

The Adventures of a Toddler with LCA: Lebra Congenital Amaurosis

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titleMany parents are forced to deal with their feelings, questions and concerns when they realize their baby or toddler has delays in development.  Listen to some of the questions Lena Amick had after learning her son Hunter had LCA or Lebra Congenital Amaurosis.  “I’m not sure how I felt … the first thing I thought about was if he will be able to go to regular school and make friends? Will he ever go hunting with his daddy?  Will he ever be able to make it out in the world when im not around?”  Such normal things we want for our children but yet when given the information your son has a rare (1 in 80,000) gene mutation that causes loss of vision at birth, we often don’t know what to do.  Lena did what most  mom’s do…reach out for help!

Because Hunter wasn’t walking, he qualified for Physical therapy with Sprout Pediatrics.  After being evaluated by Rhyno, our lead Physical Therapist, goals were written and Jessica Snipes, our Physical Therapy Assistant, began working with him.  Jessica shares, “at first I read a lot! Then we decided our priority would be helping Hunter capable of getting around in his environment.  Once Hunter had several months of PT and had learned to walk, do steps, etc we asked his EI to bring on a mobility instructor to introduce him to a cane.  It has taken some time and lots of creativity but he is starting to use it more.”

Hunter mastering steps!

Hunter mastering steps!

During therapy they would practice just walking around outside.  Giving him opportunities to learn how the ground changes, has holes and little  hills.  Jessica began to see how the cane could be used to help him explore and discover what he was near.  Jessica shares, “It is helpful for him to learn different sounds of things such as the difference of the sound of a wooden ramp vs a cement porch or brick step.  We have even started playing “hide and seek” with his cane so that he knows how to find something by sound.  I read a lot of research about how to train a child to use a cane but it also just takes a lot of repetition. His mobility instructor is training him a lot too.”

As many know, therapy is not just the hour one spends with the therapist, but the carry over practice that the family and caregiver’s do all week long that increases progress dramatically.  Hunter’s mom, Lena, is doing a great job practicing everything asked of her and every week she asks “what’s our homework this week?!” Lena shares her greatest joy has been “our PTA Jessica! Because of her, Hunter can walk, climb hills and do whatever he wants! If he didn’t have someone who truly cares, he definitely would not have come so far so quickly!”  Hunter is an explorer and confident in his abilities as just the other day he opened the door and headed outside without his mom even knowing! While he needs to be safe, it is exciting that he is independently functioning in and around his home.

Hunter heads outside down the ramp independently.

Hunter heads outside down the ramp independently.

Clearly it takes a team of professionals that deliver the total package, but Sprout Pediatrics exists to do exactly what Hunter and his family have experienced.  A caring team that pushes, encourages, researches and challenges! Both his parents are very happy with Hunters progress and are hopeful that one day Hunter will be able to see but for now they are doing a great job helping him explore his environment with touch and sound!

Below is a helpful guide to helping children with low vision.

Guide to Understanding more about helping Young Children with Low Vision

Books don’t have to break the Bank!

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At Sprout Pediatrics we focus on therapy with developmentally appropriate practices in mind, so we love books! Books are great for expanding vocabulary and teaching language concepts.

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For example, we might use the bunny book in the photo to teach animals or work on animal sounds with an Apraxia client. Or for a developmentally delayed client we might use the Dr.Seuss book to teach body parts or following directions! Our Autism clients need work on answering questions and general language development, so the Veggie Tales books are a wonderful tool.

One big thing most families forget is that having a variety of books around the home doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The Library is a wonderful resource as one can check out 30 books for 3 weeks! Pull out ten new books a week for free! Or zip by your local thrift store and check out their selection of children’s books. Often times families outgrow books and they are still in good repair. We also hit up TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Tuesday Morning as these stores often offer books at a discounted rate. Oh and don’t forget Amazon as we find books for .01 regularly…shipping is 3.99 but it’s still a good deal on most books.

Quick Tips of What to do as You Read:
Read, read, read!
Have children 18 months and younger turn the pages or pat the picture after you do.
Point to pictures and name what you see
Ask your child to point to the rabbit, the tree, or the girl.
Ask simple ‘what’ questions about the story and then ask ‘How many’ questions.