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!
- Sitting up well
- Using two hands to hold and play with rattles & toys
- Looking at the speaker
- 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!
We 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.
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!
Let’s face it! While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no child under two should be using any devices or viewing screens of any kind, they are! As parents we use phones, iPads and televisions to occupy these little ones daily. Children as young as two can navigate an iPhone to pull up a parents photos and scan through them like a pro! However as quickly as they learn to navigate our devices, they learn to touch the home button and exit out of apps. If this is a problem for you, follow these easy steps below to use guided access on your I devices.
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 “firstname.lastname@example.org”
-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!
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!
Waving, pointing and nodding are some of the first ways our little ones learn to communicate.
By encouraging them to wave,
we teach them the importance of social skills and acknowledging someone’s presence.
By teaching them to point,
we teach them to connect with their surroundings, comment on things around them and identify objects in books!
By modeling nodding,
we teach them to agree or disagree with something being asked.
Even if a child is non-verbal, they can communicate their intent and most of the time they say, “No!” before they say yes. Keep talking but don’t think nonverbal communication isn’t beneficial too!
Beginning in 1995 with only 17 Walks, the National Buddy Walk Program continues to grow and this year is set to sponsor more than 250 Walks!
The Buddy Walk for the Midlands of South Carolina is in it’s 14th year of existence and is scheduled for Sunday, October 20th, 2013. To see an actual video and schedule of the days events, click here to connect with Family Connection of South Carolina. Event Video & Registration.
Because last year’s walk was so well attended, the organizer’s have chosen to have this year’s Buddy Walk at Sequicentennial State Park just off Two Notch Road on the Northeast side of town! Plan to come from 1-5 pm and be prepared for a 1.5 walk to show your support for all the children and their families who live with Down Syndrome! Last year The University of South Carolina sent everyone’s favorite mascot “Cocky” to mill around and visit with all the children and adults who attended.
The Buddy Walk was begun to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome in their local communities. Many participants will be wearing their “team” shirts to support the specific child they are walking to endorse and countless families have set up pages to raise funds to donate to the National Down Syndrome Association. If you do not live in the Columbia area, you can find a walk near you by looking at this resource. “Buddy Walks by State.”
The resources raised by each participating family and team are used both Nationally and locally to continue research and the development of awareness to allow these children to reach their highest potential. Come join the fun celebrating these children and their milestones. It is a day filled with joy and love as we celebrate each of these individuals.