While sign language, in its many variations, has been around for hundreds of years, my history with the language is somewhat more recent. Having studied Irish sign language (ISL) at the age of 19 and working with the deaf in a remedial clinic setting, my first experiences with signing opened up an exciting window into the world of communication – but the opportunities to use this skill rarely presented themselves. After a time, life’s many other distractions took hold, and I never found much practical use for what I had spent so much time learning.
Years later, the wonders (and frustrations) of communication presented themselves in, to me, a novel way when I had my first child. The first months with my newborn daughter Aria held many challenges, and too many times I thought to myself, “oh, if you could only tell me what you want!” And then it occurred to me that perhaps she could. During Aria’s first few months, I took what time I could spare to re-educate myself in those skills I had learned as a child, and re-entered the world of sign language. Once Aria was six months old, I began signing with her, hopeful that she might take to the language, and we’d overcome so much of the guesswork in our current “communication.” Before we ever started signing, she would get often cry in frustration as I struggled to understand here. Her needs at the time were fairly simple, so we started with signs for “milk”, “sleep” and “more.” Within weeks, the difference in our communication was amazing – she now had the ability to tell me what she wanted to me.
By the time Aria was a year old, she had learned over 50 signs, and by 18 months, nearly 150. As a result, the “terrible twos” were anything but - Aria’s use of signing helped her avoid what otherwise would have been a torrent of tantrums. 3 years later, my second daughter Eden Kate arrived and I did not wait six months to begin signing with her, we started right away and she was signing "finished" and "milk" by a little more than 6 months old.
My experience teaching my daughters sign language was the inspiration for the Baby-Sign-Along program. As we went through each day signing, countless times I was asked about helping other parents learn to sign with their own infants. And soon, the Baby-Sign-Along program was born. Since then hundreds of families have completed the course, and a wonderful community of parents and young children who sign has been established. Aria and I were very isolated throughout our signing journey, but you don't have to be!
We know, from experience, that babies can learn to talk to you with their hands if they are taught in an engaging format that delights their senses and recognizes their amazing ability to learn.
Now let Baby-Sign-Along show you and your precious baby the joy of communication.