Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sign Language is for Children with Special Needs! How can sign language help

I found this article today and thought it was worth sharing. It does a nice job explaining the importance of giving young children a tool to communicate. For some students that tool can be sign language. At the end of the article it has resources for families and educators to learn basic signs.

By Etel Leit, MS

Web site: http://www.specialeducationadvisor.com/sign-language-is-for-children-with-special-needs/

Children of all abilities can reap the rewards of learning sign language, especially children with special needs. In fact, as parents and professionals who interact with children with special needs know, often the frustration that children can experience is rooted in their difficulty with communicating effectively. Signing is a great way to help your child build a working vocabulary to assist with communication and ease frustration.

Children with all types of disabilities can benefit from learning American Sign Language (ASL), including autism, Down Syndrome, apraxia, speech and language delays, Cerebral Palsy, and many others.

~From Sheila, a mom to a 5 years old boy with cerebral palsy:
“Eugene attempted to sign “help” today because he wanted juice. I asked him if he needed help and he partially began the sign. I was excited. I wanted to say that I truly believe Eugene is attempting to verbalize more spontaneously since coming to SignShine. He says hi, Mama, Ma clearly now. Sometimes it is just syllables of the word, but that is a start. He isn’t sounding like a ventriloquist like he normally does. He seems to be attempting to move his lips to talk rather than using his throat only. I think what is happening is that the signing is awakening an area of his brain that has been dormant for so long. I guess you could attribute some success as well as his muscles simply beginning to develop, but I think it is more that the area of the brain responsible for speech has been stimulated with the signing and his neurotransmitters are able to send the signals, although staggered. I am hopeful and excited about the level of success I am seeing”.

Signing empowers children with special needs by offering them a multitude of cognitive, emotional, and social benefits, including:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Increased speech and language development
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Increased social-interactions
  • Reduced negative behaviors
  • Creation of a more peaceful learning environment

How Can Signing Help?

Signing can be used anywhere and everywhere…with no equipmentneeded! Here are just some of the many areas that signing can assist with your child’s communication skills:

At home:

  • making requests: eat, drink, more, play, music, all done, sleep
  • decreasing inappropriate behaviors (communicating wants and needs, explaining to your child what is going to happen “time to go to the bathroom”)
  • during routines (getting dressed, going to bed)
  • expressing pain or sickness
  • can teach other family members and caregivers (siblings, grandma, grandpa)

In school:

  • communicating with the teacher or aides
  • expressing learned concepts, such as colors, shapes, and numbers
  • conveying desires (choosing lunch items, a preferred book, or need for a break)
  • developing peer relationships
  • decreasing frustration

In social situations:

  • building peer relationships
  • requesting items (“my turn”, “please”)
  • increasing appropriate social behaviors and interactions
  • providing a communication tool between peers with and without disabilities

Etel Leit, MS is the founder and owner of SignShine, the largest parenting and signing center for hearing children in Southern California, and the publisher of BabySignShine.com, an international signing resource for parents and caregivers. Etel is devoted to work with parents, babies, children and professionals, and has 19 years of experience in the field. Etel’s organization was voted as Best of LA Parents Magazine Summer of 2009. She has published articles in professional newsletters, and on parenting websites, including Opposing Views, HotMama.com, and her work has been profiled by several periodicals and online news agencies, including CNN.com and Yahoo.com. Etel’s television appearances include features by NBC Brian Williams Evening News, KTLA Morning Show and Fox 11 Morning News.

www.SignShine.com www.BabySignShine.com

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