I probably wouldn’t have believed it when we first started signing with our son, but he just hit the 200 sign mark at only 22 months old. It seems like so many, but we’re still adding new signs to our family’s repertoire each week. Even though his spoken vocabulary includes many more words and is expanding on a daily basis, he actually seems as receptive as ever to learning new signs.
As a family, our goal was never to give our son a second language that he could continue to use once he became a fluent speaker (although we respect that as a goal of many of you!). However, we’re willing to continue to learn and grow our signing vocabulary as long as he is.
Some signs we continue to explicitly teach him. We went for a walk last week on a very WINDY day and had somehow never taught him the sign before. He was eager to do the sign and say the word. Other signs he just picks up through observation, never doing them himself until prompted. I’ve always signed the Alphabet Song while singing it, but have not broken it down into individual signs. Awhile ago, he just started signing Z at the end of the song and recently he began to sign J.
He’s not speaking in sentences yet, so maybe when that happens he will abandon his signs. I remember making a similar prediction though that his signing would slow down once he could replace his signs with words. That has definitely not happened, and he actually still uses a lot of his very first signs, like MORE and EAT. Regardless of what he does and when he does it, we’re committed to continuing to provide him with two ways to describe his world as long as he’s willing to use them.