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A New Means of Communication

As the economy continues to decline, people are searching for ways to make ends meet. Versatility in communication is becoming an increasingly key factor to ensuring financial stability. When filling job positions, preference almost always goes to those who are able to articulately communicate with the largest audience. This means that bilingual individuals as well as those versed in sign language are the most highly desired.

The ability to sign and communicate with the deaf population is an extremely marketable and useful skill. The lack of qualified interpreters who are able to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) continues to shrink. Those who possess this unique ability will continue to be sought after in this difficult job market.

American Sign Language is the third most utilized language in the United States. Teaching children ASL is not just a fad or trend. Parents, schools, and daycares are beginning to catch on rapidly.

Signs Before Speech
Various people groups around the world, such as the American Indians as well as Neanderthals from long ago have utilized signing as a means of communication among themselves and between other tribal groups with whom they did not share a spoken language.

Research clearly shows that children between the ages of two and five are at a prime age for language absorption. This is the best time to educate children in various modes of communication, both verbal and nonverbal.

Recent research suggests that the ability to communicate through signs may be an innate behavior. In an article published by the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003, strong evidence was presented for the case that babies as young as six months of age can communicate using their hands. The article stated that around age six to eight months, babies are actually able to remember and use signs. It is hypothesized that the use of ASL teaches children how to express themselves prior to speech, thus minimizing frustration for both the parents as well as the children.

The article’s author also cited a study that was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that discussed how children who are taught sign language often develop superior verbal communication skills as they get older.

Signing can also help parents to communicate with children suffering from autism. One parent reported that through signing, she was able to communicate with her son, which greatly reduced frustration on both sides. She reported that not only does he possess an advanced vocabulary but he also performs highly in other subjects, including math, spelling and music.

When to Begin
Early childhood education that focuses on sign language can enhance the parent-child bond by allowing them to communicate with each other when the child is still lacking verbal abilities. Additionally, learning sign language gives children an extremely useful lifelong skill that will allow them to communicate with a much wider range of people. According to a wealth of evidence based on research, the best time for a child to start learning sign language is before he or she can even walk.

For children who can sign, tantrums and outbursts are lessened, as they can immediately communicate wants and needs. Learning ASL does not delay a child’s ability to speak. In fact, it actually aids speech development. Many babies that sign actually begin speaking earlier than babies who do not.

This guest post has been submitted on behalf of Primrose Day Care Schools by Kathleen Thomas