Saturday, August 2, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs...

Lukas has been polishing his communication skills lately. We hoped he would take to ASL, and it would seem that our boy is aiming to please. In addition to the spoken words that he is adding to his vocabulary recently, ('dada', 'mama', 'nigh-nigh', and just this evening I swear he said 'light') Luke has began in earnest to speak to us using sign language.

Mrs. LIAYF and I have been using certain basic signs with him for several months now, with Lukas catching on rather quickly at five months old to the sign for 'milk' (of course!), and a few months ago to the sign for 'sleep.' We attempted to teach him several other signs, which he seemed to understand well enough but gave no indication that he would ever imitate. That was until recently. In the last, maybe two weeks, our Luke seems to have made a mental switch with several other signs.

You might even say a light bulb turned on in his head! Tonight Lukas discovered that if he signed 'light,' dada would respond by turning on said light. He then used that particular sign over and over, pointing and then signing 'light' at each light he saw in the house until I flipped that light on and off several times. This was a fun new game!

He has made other ASL signs in the past two weeks including the signs for 'more,' 'all-done,' 'hat,' 'bath,' 'keys,' and 'change' (as in change diaper). This quick progression of signs has also come at a time when he's become increasingly frustrated in his attempts to communicate exactly what he wants. He points and grunts, and we reach for several objects until we finally find the one he is asking for. If we can't figure it out quickly, he may utter exclamations of irritation (as if saying "come on, how hard could this be?? I'm saying please hand me the banana for cripes sakes!") or even cry if he's tired and and the end of his patience level.

We understand that tears and frustration are common in a child this age. They have clear likes and dislikes (Lukas, for instance, will select a specific book each night if given 2-3 to choose from). They comprehend a good portion of what is being said by those around them and will often follow directions. However, they know more words than they can speak. This is precisely why we decided early on to teach him ASL - we hoped it would reduce the terrible-two-tantrums by giving him a way to talk to us before he could form the complicated words. In any case, we are glad he's figured out a better way to talk to da-da and mommy than just by grunting and pointing!

8 comments:

Whit said...

You have more patience than I do. We started signing with both boys and it gradually stopped, and by gradually I mean like 2 weeks.

James Austin said...

Whit - We have been pretty eratic at the signs, keeping them up when we remembered. The perseverance does seem to be paying off though.

Peace!
(James, making 'peace' sign)

morethananelectrician said...

He also appears to be mastering face making...that one is a whopper!

James Austin said...

MTAE - He is actually quite an animated little guy. Thanks for stopping by.

SciFi Dad said...

My daughter used ASL a lot when she was younger, with many of the signs you mentioned. She also used it to augment her speech development, often mixing words and signs when she was learning how to speak. It's a great tool, and one that kids are capable of much earlier than you'd think (my daughter was using rudimentary signs at six months).

James Austin said...

She sounds brilliant! Yes, ASL has been good for this househould. Now, if we could only teach him to sign "please" instead of the high-pitched whine he has developed . . .

tw said...

Is signing with babies quite the rage in the States?

(Don't want to sound a numpty, but what does ASL stand for? American Sign Language?)

I've only heard of it recently. Guess we just pick up what our kids are after from knowing them so well, nothing formal.

Wow, if he is that switched on at 1 yr you are going to have fun from 2 on.

James Austin said...

tw - yes, ASL stands for American Sign Language. I believe there are different signing languages for other countries, but many use ASL.

Signing with babies is all the rage in the U.S. Studies have shown that it improves, rather than delays, their speech skills when they do begin to talk - they have more vocabulary words and use them more correctly.

Plus, it's supposed to help during their toddler years when they get frustrated because adults can't understand what they are saying. Parents can usually figure out the special language their child has - but it's nice when daycare and grandma and grandpa can tell when the little one wants a drink, or a certain type of toy or food.

That's the theory anyway - we just think it's cute when he signs!!

Thanks for stopping by . . .