Thursday, August 11, 2011

Read My Hands

When I was in high school I worked with children who had disabilities ranging from deaf to profoundly autistic.  I took sign language classes once a week.  I applied to a college that offered sign language as a major.

I got into the program, but chickened out and ended up dropping the whole sign language thing altogether.  I still remember a lot of it though, and like many people who know a different language, I can understand it better than I can "speak" it.

As I moved into motherhood, I realized sign language has taken on such a life of it's own with the kiddos and mommies.  They (whoever they are) say that teaching your little bean sign language will encourage verbal communication. 

I have to say, based purely on my own thoughts and observations, I disagree.  I have seen children who are very good with the signs, but seem to have little to no verbal skills and it is not because they have a disability. It seems almost like the signs became a crutch or substitute for the verbal language.

If they can get their point across without having to learn actual words, then why learn the words? 
Despite this, when Pman was a wee-bot, I taught him a few signs. I figured since I knew a bit of sign language anyway, might as well jump on board.  I also needed something to stop the grunting and whining coming from both of us.

I only taught him a few words:
All done

We only did these until he could speak.  Once he figured out the vocal words, I dropped the signs altogether.  I dropped them, but he did not.

The other day as he asked me for a lollipop, I realized that he, seemingly involuntarily, signed please as he asked. 

My mind flashed forward several years to a full grown Pman in a crowded, loud place with friends, a bar or party maybe.  They are all signing as they are shouting across the room to each other.  None of them really realizing how or why they know these signs, but they do so they use them. 

Kind of like a primitive, instinctual text message.  Like their fingers and hands operated some how both independently and in conjunction with their mouths and brains.

Sometimes I'm sad I did not stick with sign language and I know I can go back to school and maybe one day I will.  For now, I will chuckle to myself every time Pman's hands form fists and bump each other as he asks for more juice. 

I taught him that and it is a part of him now.  And yes, I will also likely teach some of these to SBG as she gets older.  The grunting and whining can really grate on a mommy's nerves.

1 comment:

lynsey said...

i think everyone teaching their child sign should read this. i also notice him still using the signs he knows to this day.. I like it, but not being someone who knows sign language, your 3 year old son signing me things i can't understand makes me feel... dumb. lol