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.

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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.

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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.

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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.