Now that our son is talking in longer phrases, he has stopped using most of his signs. Like most toddlers, he’s not always easy to understand though. Sometimes my husband and I look at each other to see if the other one caught what he just said. If neither of us has any idea, we’ll ask him to repeat himself. If that doesn’t work, we tell him to show us. After several attempts, our son will often resort to his signs in exasperation. It’s pretty funny to witness. It’s like he’s thinking, “Geez, guys, do you really need signs to get this?”
There are many examples of times when he’s done this, but one in particular stands out. I was walking by the river with him one day and he said something I didn’t understand while pointing to the water. I asked him to say it again and I still didn’t catch it. When I asked him to repeat himself one more time, he rather forcefully hit the back of one hand with the other while giving me an annoyed look. He wanted a ROCK to throw in the river! I apologized for not realizing what he had said, repeated it back to him using the sign, and we set about looking for a rock. So, even though he has graduated to using words most of the time, he still relies on signing for some of his communication, and it continues to prevent the kind of frustration some children feel when they are not understood by their caregivers.