A Day Full Of Baby Sign Time, Silly Songs, And Bedtime Stories!

Grandpas are pretty awesome. My dad would do just about anything for Noah. One thing that is important to him is to learn how to communicate with Noah as he gets older and is learning to talk.  There is a lot of research showing the effectiveness of sign language in children born with down syndrome, so our entire family is in the process of learning a new language – sign language!

down downs synrome baby sign language

"Now your speaking my language!"

He was insistant on bringing home the Baby Signing Time videos during our library storytime visit so he could catch up. We have one of the videos at home and have been trying to figure this stuff out. (Fun Fact: Rick “randomly” took a year of American Sign Language while earning his undergraduate degree.  Pretty neat to see how God had this planned out all along.)

We sat back and watched the videos with his grandpa and Noah  started signing away…just kidding. Noah is not quite into TV so he just enjoyed sitting with Grandpa. Incorporating signing into our daily life is HARD. Grandpa was always reminding us to sign when we offered him milk. I wish he had come home with us as we don’t do too hot on our own.

Baby Sign Language: To Do, Or Not To Do? That Is The Question.

this way that way road sign decisions choices

The only "wrong" way is to do nothing.

I am not going to lie, but as a pediatrician I am torn on the idea of baby signing.

There are three theories, one that it will slow speech progression as there is no need to learn your words since you have a sign for them, and the others being that there is no delay to it helps advance speech development.

baby signing time dvd down syndrome

It's Baby Signing Time!

If I had a typical developing child, I would not have bothered with sign language. The studies cannot state clear conclusions on the benfit or harm of sign language for a typical child yet. However there are promising studies for children born with Down syndrome. You are likely familiar that children with Down syndrome can learn language slowly, however a nice scientist named Miller showed that when sign was added there was no difference in aquired language between typical children and those with Down syndrome. Language being either a sign or a word. Pretty awesome conclusion.  That information encourages me to try sign language…if I could just remember to actually do it!

We want others to be able to communicate with Noah as well and that fact that his grandparents are already learning sign means the world to us.

One of the reasons that the studies are not giving clear conclusions for typical children is that it is hard to determine if other factors are impacting speech development. Things like parent-child interaction including simply singing or reading bedtime stories can improve speech.  The studies are finding it hard to control for these conditions and determine that sign is the real reason these children have advanced speech development.

Langauge is definately an individualized learning experience and I am fairy certain that you will be able to figure things out to help your child.

Hanging Out In Downtown Aspen

We spent the day singing, signing, and playing in downtown Aspen. I can’t wait until Noah can strap on some skies (or a snowboard!) and have some real fun.

aspen colorado downtown mountain candy company

aspen colorado downtown mountains landscape

landscape picture aspen colorado

One of Rick’s favorite lunch items is a BLT and Boogie’s Burgers in downtown Aspen makes some of the best!

Boogies burgers aspen colorado downtown

After lunch we ended up at one of the most fun places in all of downtown Aspen – The Aspen Candy Company!

The aspen candy company in downtown aspen

I wanted one (or two) of everything.

aspen candy company colorado downtown candy company

aspen candy company down town colorado

aspen candy company bulk candy

best candy store aspen colorado

aspen colorado downtown candy company letter sucker

Ok,so  maybe there was one thing in the store I didn’t want to try.

gummy bacon candy aspen candy company

As you can see after finding Noah a cute hat, he was ready to go home.

aspen colorado cute down syndrome baby hat

And…it’s time to go!

mad baby with down syndrome cute baby boy

"Mom! Dad! I'm ready to go...!"

And by the time we got home it wasn’t long before Noah was sound asleep, looking as cute as ever.

cute downs down syndrome baby boy sleeping

Night, night....

What are your thoughts on Baby Sign Language? For those of you who have tried it, what has been your (and your child’s) experience?

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  1. Beautiful photos, beautiful boy! Our grandson Brady (who will turn 2 next week and is our youngest of 7 grands and also happens to have Ds) is using sign language and using it well. Sometimes better than the rest of us! He gets tickled when we understand him and sign back! Some of the other (typical)grands have used sign and were able at an early age to sign things like “more, please”, “thank you” and “I love you.” I will always remember the thrill I got from it! And it never made a difference in their verbal skills; all were early talkers. It was natural to begin sign early with Brady, too. I would just suggest not over-thinking and just do what feels natural and easy for you. Have fun!

  2. My little Bryce loves Baby Signing Time. He’s actually quite addicted to it and asks for in constantly through signing. The sign for “Baby Signing Time” is Bryce’s best sign in fact. Bryce is 3 years old now and doesn’t say anything but dadadada. But, he has about 20 signs. That’s his best way of communicating right now. I’m a big advocate of signing for our kids who have Down syndrome!

  3. I absolutely LOVE signing with children and we LOVE Signing Time. I think we have the entire series (baby and regular) up through vol 12! Too bad you don’t live by us (south west chicago suburbs) because I would loan them to you. I started signing with my oldest (now 15) when he had a speech delay. I then used it with my other two as well. My youngest also had a speech delay but he has dyspraxia – whole nother ball of wax!

    I work in early intervention in the special instruction field (Developmental Therapist). I love using sign language with children. I have actually used in with older children as it helps not only to get their attention (when you are flapping your hands around) but by using their hands together with their mouths they are engaging more of their brain in the learning process. I have not worked with any child where sign language stopped them from speaking words. Ever child I have worked with dropped the signs as soon as they were able to use the speech. Only with prompting would they continue the signs. There are two children (with DS) in particular that I have worked with that had parents that were very on board with sign language. One had a 200+ sign vocabulary by age 2 (a girl – yes she was into language!) and a little boy that was not only able to get his needs met, but sing songs with signs long before he could speak. He is now 4 1/2 and is primarily verbal and understandable.

    To sum up – I think signing is GREAT!! I also feel that reading books is also very important (currently getting my masters of education: Reading Specialist). The more language children are exposed to the better their language and reading skills. I feel that starting to read stories (not just name the pictures, but do that too as that is Soooo important) before they can move gets them into the routine of sitting and listening. Too many families don’t read to children because they don’t sit still. It is a skill that needs to be taught to most children.

    Hope some of my babbling was helpful!

    Just a question – is Noah receiving services through the state’s early intervention program? Was just wondering since you take him to therapy. In Illinois services must be provided in the family’s home.

    • Lisa,

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t consider them “babbling” at all. They are very helpful, and informative. Thanks for the taking the time.

      It sounds like you are involved in a lot of really great things. That’s great!

      We agree with you on the reading. We read to Noah pretty much every day (and night.) Sometimes he falls asleep really early and we don’t always wake him..but he gets TONS AND TONS of reading and talking.

      Also I’m not sure if you’ve seen all of the videos we have posted on our site, but we go to therapy 3 times a week. We actually use a private therapist as opposed to the serves offered by the state. Many people we have talked to say they only get 1 visit a month. With Noah we go 12 times a month! He is a hard worker! 🙂

      Sounds like you have a ton of great info…do you have a blog (if not you should!) Also are we “Facebook” friends? —-> Facebook.com/noahsdad.com

      p.s. —–> You should grab a Gravatar. http://en.gravatar.com/

  4. Laura (from Ben's Blessings) says

    I’ve started learning some signs for Ben who is one month younger than Noah. I didn’t realize there were videos – thanks for the tip!

  5. Signing has been really effective with Seth and Ella. We know a good number of those signing times songs by heart up in here.

  6. chastity mcbryde says

    what a cool topic!

    my dad was an interpreter for the hearing impaired when i was growing up. i can frequently understand conversations in sign language, but have difficulty in signing back (other than alphabetical or baby signs now, lol). in an emergency, and we’ve actually had a few, it’s been helpful to be able to communicate when needed.

    with my son who’s 6 now, we were using about 20 basic signs, just because. we had absolutely typical expectations of his language development, but i was shocked at how early he was able to use the signs. his favorites were words like ‘more’ and ‘please’ and ‘help’ and ‘up’ – and then ‘stop it’ – while my favorite was, ‘all done with this’ or ‘all gone’. i really believe it helped decrease his frustration when his ability to comprehend wasn’t as developed as his vocabulary. he’s got an amazing vocabulary now, and i don’t think learning sign language inhibited that at all.

    we’ve just requested the series through our i.e. person’s library, and i’m ready to start incorporating the signs now (my daughter’s a month old).

    even if she never ‘needs’ it, there are other people in the world who are isolated due to communication impairments, and i think it’s almost a golden rule type of issue that my children should be offered the opportunity to bridge that gap. who knows, my daughter’s future husband may be hearing impaired, so why not start helping her find out now? just because you have a different level of ability doesn’t mean you should live in isolation because of it, and i’m all for doing what we can now.

  7. Banah Kono says

    Heard about your site through the Ds listserv, and it’s awesome! I can just feel the pride/love/joy you feel and Noah is ADORABLE!! Aahhh, reminds me of when my Noah (also has Ds, now 7 yo) was a little baby:)

    About Signing Time … it’s one of the best things we did for Noah. We started him at about 10 months old. He picked up his first sign, “more” after a few months and just took off from there and quickly learned all of the signs as quickly as we introduced a new DVD. We went through the entire collection, as soon as they came out (some weren’t out yet when we started 6 years ago – now we have all of them). The amazing thing was, not only was Noah picking up signs very quickly, he used sign language to show us that he could read! At the age of 2! All of the Signing Time DVDs show you the words when they sign it, so Noah was learning all of the written words as well. Around the time he turned 2, we also started the Love and Learning reading program. About 6 months after starting that, Noah pointed to the word “apple” in the black and white book used for that program and signed “apple”. Then proceeded to sign almost every word in the books, without pictures or other prompts to tell him what the word was. Then we just wrote random words on a piece of paper and asked Noah to sign them … he knew all of the colors, animals, foods … we figured out that he had learned them from Signing Time!
    At 7, Noah doesn’t talk much at all, only to ask for things he REALLY, REALLY wants. But he is a fantastic reader and has started learning to use the qwerty keyboard and likes to play spelling apps on his iPad/iPod. He had been interested in words even as a baby (he would play with anything with writing on it and stare and stare at the letters) but we really believe that the Signing Time DVDs taught him to sight read so, so many words. That combined with the reading programs we also worked on as well as some of the leapfrog “learn to read” DVDs and toys we added in later.

    Anyway, Noah’s younger siblings naturally learned to use baby signs as they grew up around their older brother and I think it helped them to learn language really quickly. It helped to broaden their vocabulary too. Our 25 month old has speech much more mature than her peers, I think due to her exposure to baby sign language (although Signing Time goes beyond baby signs and we watch the whole collection randomly now), so the Signing Time series is much more than just a baby sign tool. Our kids (all 3 – one with Ds, 2 typically developing) ALL benefited so much in so many ways from watching them. They learned concepts, reading, songs (singing along is a great way for babies/toddlers to learn plus it’s one of the few times our Noah actually wants to speak!). Just wanted to let you know that you’ve made a great decision in starting Signing Time with your son.

    And I love the positive attitude you guys have, it really reminds me of when our Noah was born. He’s the greatest gift from God in our lives, more than we could’ve ever imagined. God is Amazing, and how He knows exactly what we need, is awesome 🙂

    • Thank you very much for your kind words! It sounds like you guys are really doing some great things!

      Have you “liked” us on Facebook yet? (Facebook.com/noahsdad.com) we’d love for you to post a picture of your family on there!

      By the way, we look forward to connecting with you more. We post a daily one minute video every day on our site. One of our goals is to show the world that a family raising a child with down syndrome is much more “normal” then un-normal!

      By the way….do you have a Gravatar? —–> http://en.gravatar.com/

  8. I came across this post via a Google search and I love this topic! To be fair, I am an instructor with the Signing Time Academy so perhaps my opinion of using signing language with little ones, typically developing or not, is a bit biased. However, I did start using sign language with my daughter when she was just about 3 months old (she is now 5) and that was long before I became an instructor. In fact, it was because of how delighted and amazed I was over my daughter’s ability to communicate with us through signs that I became an instructor. My daughter was a very high needs baby, which is why we started signing in the first place…she did nothing buy cry for the first 4 months of her life, had zero patience and a zero frustration level (still does!)so we wanted give her a tool that would help her communicate her needs and reduce her frustration. Later it was discovered that she has sensory processing disorder, which probably explains why she was so high needs. We are so happy that we made the choice to sign because we really believe things might have been a whole lot more challenging with her had we not.

    By the way, Rachel Coleman, who is the co-creator of Signing Time and the Signing Time Foundation, has a daughter who is deaf and one who has CP & Spina Bifida. Naturally, she is an advocate of signing with children of all abilities; however, she is also huge supporter of the National Down Syndrome Association and appears at many of their Buddy Walks when she can. You can find more info about Rachel’s story, Signing Time and the Signing Time Foundation at http://www.signingtimefoundation.com.

    • Amanda,

      Thanks so much for leaving your comment. Thanks for sharing about your expertise with your daughter, you sound like a great parent.

      I didn’t know that about Rachel and the signing time foundation, that’s very cool. I’ll have to check that out. By the way do you have a blog or anything?

      Also be sure to “like” us on Facebook and post a picture of your little one. We’d love to see! —-> Facebook.com/noahsdad.com

      • I have a free website that’s all about using sign language with babies & young children. As the comic relief part of it, my husband writes “The Baby Blogs.” http://www.thebabyblogs.com. He began writing it in our sleep-deprived days. Most of the time it is written in the imaginary voice of our daughter…or at least what he imagined she was thinking! All the pictures on that site are of her as are many of the pictures on the main website.

        I am going to go over to your FB page now and “like” you as well as share a link to your video on my Baby Sign Language Academy FB page! I look forward to following your story. 🙂

  9. Thanks Rick! We appreciate all the exposure and Noah is a rockstar! Please come back and visit us soon at the Aspen Candy Company – I think we can treat you to a special deal!

  10. As a fluent signer, I can say that I will absolutely be signing with my children, typical, special, or in between. Any exposure to multiple languages is beneficial to children. If there is a delay at first, it resolves itself quickly, and by school age, those students excel beyond their monolingual peers in language, as well as math and music. I know several children of Deaf adults (CODAs) who have grown up to speak quite eloquently. Students who become bilingual early on are more likely to become trilingual or quadrlingual later on. I am grateful every day for learning ASL, and I can’t wait to share it with my children to give them multiple chances to succeed and the opportunity to expand their ability to express themselves in a myriad of ways. I think not signing with your son would be doing him a disservice. The more opportunities to learn to express and comprehend, the better.

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