Many people (skeptical grandparents and spouses) believe that signing might delay a child as far as speaking goes – some have even said it can inhibit speaking altogether. These skeptics falsely claim that signing enables a baby to remain silent. Others accuse signing parents of creating a mute or mime or somehow purposely disabling babies. This couldn’t be further from the truth, so please expel this from your mind right now!
In actual fact, experts and the research agrees that signing helps a baby’s language development rather than hinders it. No more than does crawling inhibit walking, does signing inhibit talking. These are all milestones on the way to a higher level. No reasonable person would say that a baby shouldn’t crawl because they might get lazy and not walk, or might get “too comfortable” and avoid walking altogether. While some babies might stay crawling longer, it is only because a baby is not ready to walk yet – or lacks the motivation to go bipedal. While crawling builds coordination and strength toward walking, signing builds neural pathways toward speaking. It’s like getting the gears turning and preparing the mind for the next big step. Signing does not cause language disabilities or delays, though it will give these children, who already have them, a voice.
It is estimated that only 1 in 10 children will experience some form of language delay and teaching them to sign early will empower them, and reduce frustration in their lives. Therefore, if some babies are found to sign longer, it is because they aren’t ready to take up verbal language for whatever reason. If your child has an innate desire to remain non-verbal for longer than ordinary, why not give them a voice, whatever that voice might be? It should be clear that language delays happen regardless of teaching sign, and are not the cause itself.
Above: Just us playing around with signs and talking about Mom going to WORK. Knowing about work helped my son adjust to being away from Mom as we could talk about her during the day and also prepare him for work days the night before to avoid surprises.