Sign Language and Verbal Communication

Some people believe the false assumption that teaching sign language to a child will hinder his or her ability to learn verbal communication. There is no research to support this claim. Research does show that children with speech and language delays benefit from the use of sign language. When a child is unable to express him/herself, challenging behaviors may arise. This can lead to frustration for both the child and the parents. A study by Thompson, Cotnoir-Bichelman, McKerchar, Tate, & Dancho (2007) states that introducing basic signs may contribute to the prevention of behavior problems for young children.

It is often easier for a child to learn the motor actions needed to make a sign before they learn the motor actions for speech production. This gives them a tool for making functional requests or the ability to protest an undesired object/activity which will in turn ease frustrations for both parents and child. The early use of sign language teaches children that their communication is powerful. This allows the child to feel empowered by their communication and build their intrinsic motivation.

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