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THE HISTORY OF BABY SIGNING 

 in Australia

Baby sign language is not new.  Deaf parents have been signing to their hearing and deaf children from the time their children are born and have been communicating with their preverbal children long before  their children have learnt to speak, with input from Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, cousins etc. 

Baby signing  for hearing parents and their hearing children, however, is very new in Australia.  Only in recent years have parents been investigating the benefits of signing to communicate with their preverbal children.  The movie "Meet the Fockers" depicting a baby communicating with his grandfather in sign, instigated a rush of interest in baby sign language. Now there are a number of people teaching here in Australia

 

 

 THE HISTORY OF BABY SIGNING 

 in America

 

In the late 1980's, Joseph Garcia, a student at the University of Alaska, became fascinated with sign language. While there were no deaf people in his family, he thought that learning how to sign would be interesting - and he began to study it seriously. Once he had a solid grasp of American Sign Language (ASL), Garcia made a number of friends in the deaf community. This resulted in an observation that changed his life - and the lives of many to come.

 

 

An Interesting Observation…

What Joseph Garcia noticed was that the hearing babies of his deaf friends were on their way to becoming sign language "experts" at around 9 months of age. Yet the 9-month old babies of his hearing friends were not communicating much at all. The difference intrigued Garcia so much that he made it the subject of his Master's thesis.

Why was it possible, he asked, for babies that age to communicate by gesturing, but not by speaking?

And if deaf parents could communicate with their hearing babies, would there be any benefit to teaching sign language to the hearing children of hearing parents?

Using his infant sons as "test subjects," Garcia was able to demonstrate the positive effects of signing with hearing babies in his thesis.

 Source: www.kindersign.com used by permission

 

The Women's Perspective...

 

 

 

Around the same time, Linda Acredolo, a PhD at the University of California at Davis took her 12-month-old daughter Kate to the pediatrician. While they were in the waiting room, Kate walked up to the fish tank to get a closer look. And then she did something strange...

 

She started to blow! Her mother was puzzled by the behavior and, after the appointment, took Kate home for a nap. As she put her down in her crib, Linda "activated" the mobile that hung over it. It was a mobile made of beautiful fish - and in order to make them "swim," Linda had to blow on it. Instantly, Linda became aware of the connection her daughter had made. Without any instruction, her daughter was communicating with her own form of sign language.

 

 

 

The Mind of a Scientist or two…

Linda began to wonder:

 

How many other gestures or signs was Kate using to communicate?

 

Were there any other signs that she was making that Linda just hadn't noticed?

 

Do other children try to communicate by gesturing or signing?

 

And so her quest began. Linda partnered with her colleague, Susan Goodwyn, another PhD at the same university, and they began to study, observe and question other parents. As scientists, they did things right. With a grant from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, they compared babies who signed with babies who didn't. They followed their progress at ages 2, 3 and 8.

 


Remarkable Results!!!

 

 

Acredolo and Goodwyn's findings were nothing short of extraordinary. They proved conclusively that once babies are taught to sign, their brains become more developed, resulting in one positive benefit after another.

In comparison after comparison, signers out-performed non-signers in all areas - including spoken language development and I.Q.

 

Source: www.kindersign.com used by permission

 

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