A Sign Led the Way

With my elder son, I had taken so many things for granted: all of the ‘firsts’ that as a new mom, I had simply anticipated were ‘standard’ and in a way guaranteed without question.  While I was joyful with each of his milestones being met, I didn’t fully comprehend what a gift each of them were – and how each was, contrary to my myopic viewpoint, absolutely not guaranteed to be met without question.  This is a lesson that I learned fully with my younger son.

Little Llama the Younger was born with health issues the nature of which I hadn’t experienced before.  As the time passed, it was determined that even in the early months, he would benefit from physical therapy.

The milestones that Little Llama the Elder had reached with ease, were not as simple for his brother.  Each was a struggle for him, and again while I beamed with each accomplishment as I did with my elder son, I had gained a deeper appreciation for the gift that each milestone being reached truly was.

This was made clear yet again when, as his health issues steadied with the aid of several medications and the guidance of a pediatric gastroenterologist, his feeding and speech issues came to the forefront.

He was unable to consume more than liquids, and his speech was delayed. He was saying Mama, Dada, baba, with a sprinkling of gibberish intermixed.  He was frustrated – he couldn’t communicate his needs or wants to the degree other children his age were, and I was doing my best to discern what it was he wanted (not all too successfully).

It was about this time that the physical therapist who continued to see him weekly had mentioned in passing how some of her clients who also had children with language delays had looked in to sign language.

I was skeptical, but willing to try anything that would enable my little guy to be able to better communicate.  I Googled, I scoured YouTube and the local library.

Then, I found it.  Baby Signing Time, a dvd series focused on the instruction of American Sign Language for children ages 0-2 years of age. Rachel Coleman, donning an orange sweater and a sweet smile, sings as she and a variety of toddlers and babies demonstrate each ASL sign.  My son was mesmerized.  More importantly — he was learning to sign, and communicate.

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Photo Credit: SigningTime.com/twolittlehandsproductions

We purchased the 4 dvd set, as well as the accompanying books, flashcards and wall charts, and each was immensely helpful.

He picked up the signs quickly, and the first time that he was able to communicate that he wanted ‘milk’ I thought I’d cry.  He was so happy, so proud!  When he added ‘more’ after he had finished the milk I’d given him — I knew that this was the answer.

We watched together, learning the signs, and his vocabulary, in sign, blossomed.  My little boy was able to “speak” to me, and I was elated with the progress.

I wanted more.  I wanted him to have the richest, most broad vocabulary he could have. I didn’t want him to miss out on a single word.  Again visiting the Signing Time website, I purchased the Signing Time series, volumes one and two.  The information shared that it would teach over 1,000 signs.

signing-time-pic

Photo Credit: SigningTime.com/twolittlehandsproductions

While the Signing Time series has the suggested ages of 3-8, I purchased it anyway.  Though he was well under the age recommendation, I thought it would, at minimum, be good for me to ‘get a head start on’ for when he was old enough.  I am so glad I didn’t decide to wait until he was older, because he absolutely loves them!

He would sign ‘baby time’ when he wanted to watch a Baby Signing Time dvd, and he’d sign Alex and Leah’s name sign when he wanted the original Signing Time series.

It provided fun, engaging instruction in American Sign Language.  It was clear that ASL was the key we needed to unlock communication for my little boy.  It was also clear to me that, for our family, the Signing Time resources were holding that key.

It was an absolutely amazing transformation.  My younger son had gone from speaking only a few words, to being able to sign complete thoughts.  He was able to convey feelings, wants, preferences, and observations.

As his feeding issues were being addressed and he was able to consume solid foods, he would begin to sign what he wanted to eat, or to drink.  We’d go through the grocery store, and he’d sign the foods and items of learned signs.  Each evening, he’d sign ‘stars’ and ‘moon’ when he wanted to go outside to see them.  He’d sign ‘bike’ or ‘car’ as they passed by while he rocked on the front porch with my husband.  He’d sign ‘outside,’ ‘play’ and ‘grass’ when he wanted one of us to take him to play in the backyard.

He was so engaged, so excited.  For a brief time, he even tried to teach our cat to sign (unsuccessfully, in case you were curious as to how his attempts turned out).

Shortly before Christmas, we learned that the Signing Time product line was offering the Signing Time Christmas Collection on sale.  It became a fantastic resource for us, and we learned so many signs relating to items and events surrounding the holiday and winter season.  It was wonderful to be able to have him more fully enjoy the holidays since he was able to communicate using ASL.

signing-time-christmas

Photo Credit: SigningTime.com/twolittlehandsproductions

Then, one special day, something tremendously wonderful happened —  as he was signing, he began to verbally speak some of the words as his little fingers and hands formed the signs.  I cannot even begin to express the joy of hearing his sweet little voice SPEAKING, and in more than mama, dada, or baba.

Today, three months shy of three years of age, you’d never know that he ever had a speech delay.  He speaks well, and in sentences.

Did we discontinue signing after he began speaking, and speaking well?  Absolutely not.

We expanded.  We moved on to the preschool series, Rachel and the Treeschoolers, Potty Time, and Signing Time Sentences.

treeschoolerspotty-time

Photo Credit: SigningTime.com/twolittlehandsproductions

sentences

Photo Credit: SigningTime.com/twolittlehandsproductions

Why? We chose to do so because Signing Time had become such a part of our lives, and we noticed the continued benefit.  What we initially turned to in a moment of need, had developed in to a continued learning experience, wherein he’s learning a second language.

The Signing Time series, and other offerings of Two Little Hands productions, were such a blessing to my family — through them, my little boy was given the gift of communication, and for that, I am forever grateful to the production team, and to my little boy’s rockstar in the orange sweater, Rachel <3

 

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Disclaimer: I have received no compensation for this post or the opinions contained therein.  I purchased all of the resources mentioned, as well as others, using only the general public offers that they extended on their website or via general email offers. All viewpoints and experiences are my (and my son’s) own, and I’m not in any way suggesting that the series or products will yield the same or similar benefits as they cultivated for my family. Signing Time has been a true blessing to my family, and I wanted to share our experience, in hopes that it may lead others to the assistance they may be in need of themselves.

16 thoughts on “A Sign Led the Way”

  1. This is such a heart-warming post. I’m glad things worked out great for you, and I can’t imagine how much of a wonderful feeling it must have felt when you finally found a way to make things work. All the best to you guys!

  2. I have so many friends using this program with their little ones. It is very interesting to me. We never used it when our kids were babies.

  3. They have so many great products available now. My cousin adopted 2 kids from Russia and they used ASL for the language barrier when they were young so they could communicate. It was so cool. You are a great mommy.

  4. Aww so glad your little one is blossoming and catching up! 🙂 Ive never tried to teach any of my kids sign language but I can appreciate the effort you must have out forth to help your child. Best of luck!

  5. My son had a speech delay, so we taught him some basic signs when he was little. I wish I had taught him more and earlier, he wouldn’t have had such a hard time communicating with us. He got over the delay by the time he was 4, but it was hard early on.

  6. Your story was so emotional and touching! It is difficult enough to understand what children want, I can only imagine how much harder it would be with a deaf child. Glad this helped you make headway!

  7. It’s such a good feeling to know materials to provide to your baby. I hope this also helps other parents to teach toddlers sign language and determine ways to communicate faster. Happiness is seeing your baby respond to words for the first time.

  8. I have always wondered how to get started with ASL in children. This is a good and successful story of how you managed to get past this hurdle in your child’s life. I would like to try this myself with my family or even just learn ASL for fun!

  9. I have many friends who have seen great results in teaching their children sign language. I wish that this is something that I would have done with my kids when they were younger. I’m certain that it would have moved me to tears the first time, though! Great job, momma, for finding a solution to help your child!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It can seem dark at times, but I love that God always provides away. I and happy that your son was able to pick up ASL quickly and that resources with support was given to you and him.

  11. Such an authentic story. Thank you for sharing your journey. We did not do signs with our kids but our close friends did. It was always amazing to me how their little boy could communicate with them at such a young age. A great parenting tool for sure.

  12. I’m sorry you had a rough start but what a wonderful story! Isn’t it amazing how much kids can take in? They’re so resilient. We’re very lucky that sign language is taught at our little girl’s nursery, and I think it’s great that even for children who don’t understand that other kids learn at a different pace, they can still communicate with one another and not look at the struggling children any differently. Really lovely to hear he’s doing so well 🙂

  13. This is great news. As a former foster mom I always tried to address speech issues right away. So many kids have them and nothing is done. My nephew is almost 20 and never got speech therapy and you can tell.

  14. This is fantastic! I can’t imagine the frustration you and your little one felt when you were not able to discern his needs. Thank goodness the therapist said something about sign language to you! I’ve never learned to sign, but, think it is a great way to communicate. My great niece is 18 months and while still learning her words, her school teaches them sign language as well. It does give them that sense of control in getting the things they want and need expressed to others. ((HUGS)) to you and your little one!

  15. This is the sweetest! My brother is Deaf so I’ve been signing with him since I was able to use my fingers. I think it’s great that Sign language is being used by so many for different reasons. Although my little one didn’t have problem speaking, we taught him to sign basic words to encourage both developments.

  16. Your story is very touching. I am relieved to hear your little man is catching up with his language and it seems you are getting past the developmental delays. Kudos to you for finding a great way to make things easier not only for you but your little boy as well. I tried sign language with my eldest, we still use the sign for more when we are eating lol, but we’ve lost the few other words we learned. This is a skill your little boy will be able to use throughout his life, and will probably open many opportunities for him. I wish your family all the best.

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