For a long time, I’d been curious about learning American Sign Language; I enjoy learning spoken languages, and something like ASL represented a different dimension to that.
However, unlike living in Italy, working in France and Holland, visiting Japan and taking Spanish in high school, I had no real impetus to get the process into gear. As such, I’d learn a sign here or there, and most likely forget it again. So most of the signs I actually retained were the ones used for communicating with incompetent drivers with whom one is forced to share the road.
Along came L – a seemingly very bright miniature human. Learning to talk is a fairly slow process for the vast majority of miniature humans. However, he is in possession of increasingly fine motor skills. We learned that most babies can sign words before they can say them. And so there was a reason for the whole family to learn to sign together.
A friend of ours recommended the Baby Signing Time series of DVDs, and we picked up the first two. L now watches one of these each evening, and has amassed a healthy sign vocabulary. We just ordered the third and fourth DVDs, and I hope there will eventually be more in the series. Each DVD is a series of catchy songs written so as to teach a set of signs, and since we have been watching them so often, it is fortunate that the songs are sufficiently interesting and well-written as to not drive us crazy!
L’s most frequent signs are to ask for milk or food – very often ‘more food’ – but he also signs ‘all done’, ‘drink’, ‘sleep’, ‘please’, ‘hat’, ‘wash hands’, ‘brush teeth’, variously ‘signing’ or ‘time’ (when he wants to watch the DVDs) and a few others. He will often combine them in a logical fashion (the other night, when he was tired, he signed ‘please sleep’ at me). He has also signed ‘daddy’, ‘sorry’, ‘where’, ‘ouch’ and a few others, but only once, so it’s hard to say whether those were more than just coincidental… but he’s definitely able to express way more than he would be with speech alone by this point.
I’m immensely proud of my little boy, and I cannot recommend these DVDs highly enough. Hopefully I can keep up with him as he learns more and more signs!