Seriously, if I hear this one more time! My wife actually just told me that she was talking to a friend about baby sign language and she had a nephew who was somewhat delayed in speaking. Her comment was “I couldn’t imagine teaching him sign language, he’s already delayed in speaking!?!”
Really! So you couldn’t imagine what a kid who’s delayed in speaking might feel having not been able to communicate at all? Sorry for the emotion, but it’s such a pervasive thought that signing can delay speaking that it’s becoming annoying. It just frustrates me to no end to think that people think you can mute a baby by giving them a second silent language as their motor coordination and voice structures catch up to their ability. Signing has been shown to make talking more likely, not less likely to happen and also, when it does, much sooner. End of story!
Even my mom has been known to express doubts as we taught our son to sign. “Is he talking yet?” She would prod. “No mom, he isn’t, but he’s only 13 months-old, give him some time” I’d reply. I’d then add that he was signing over 80 words. However, by the time my son did start, he was mirroring the sounds we made daily, as if a switch had turned on. He was adding words almost everyday from the moment he turned 17 months-old. They weren’t all totally clear, but he and I, as well as my wife, knew what he meant. Because he learned to sign, he understood how to label things. He’d point at things, we’d say the word out loud and if he could, would repeat it back to us. Often he would use the start letter of the word as his “approximation.”
Eventually, he had words he would sign and words he’d say and other words where he’d say and sign. By 16 months he was signing 2-3 word sentences and this continued into his 17th months.
Signing gives babies a head-start, don’t let anyone let you think otherwise!