The answers given here are only meant to assist you in your search for answers. They are not meant to be the “end all” absolute best answer for your situation. There is not a “one size fits all” answer or solution . The approach and method that is best for your child depends upon many factors and can only be decided on a case by case basis.
Very Important Note: You may end up changing approaches several times. You are not stuck with one approach and method for the rest of your child’s life. What works now, may not be necessary or effective at a later time. If what you are doing is not working, then find what does work will and change directions. In case you don’t read far enough to hear us say it later, please take it to heart now. We are not advocating that everyone, always and never do anything else. We are advocating that you find the best solutions for YOUR child and his particular set of circumstances. We welcome your questions or comments.
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Q: So many parents today are teaching their babies and children to sign and they aren’t even deaf. Why??
A: Because parents have found their hearing child can communicate with them much earlier through signs than speech. The infant/toddler can make his needs known and the parents do not have to guess why their child is crying or what he is pointing at. It reduces frustration for both parent and child and makes for a much happier and contented child. (and parent!). Speech doesn’t usually begin until between one and two years of age. A baby can sign before he is one year old.
The research on these families is showing that these young children’s IQ scores and cognitive skills are in the 99 percentile! It seems they are stimulating both sides of the brain and are getting a big jump start on language and communication. Hmmm, are we missing something? Should that tell us something?
Q: The educational experts are telling me not to sign to my deaf baby because he won’t be normal and won’t learn to talk if he learns to sign.
A: Ok, let’s first address the term “normal”. What does that mean? Ask your doctor what he means by the term “normal”. Does it mean your child will look and act likes other children who can hear and speak and not draw attention to himself by signing?
I am that afraid a child without language input from birth will certainly not be “normal” in ANY way. He will be unable to make his needs, wants, hurts, or feelings known without language. When he can’t get those needs met in the “normal” way, his frustration and anger will manifest itself in aggressive, physical actions. Now that is normal – you and I would do the same! With those behaviors he will definitely draw attention to himself!
He will be behind all his hearing peers in language development. Unless he catches up somehow, he will never be on “normal” grade level. Like 90% of his deaf peers (the 90 % without language input at home), he will graduate high school with less than a third or fourth grade reading level-hardly “normal” achievement after 12+ years of school. He will struggle all the way through school because the inability to read well will affect every area of study. A strong language and reading base is necessary to learn Science, History, Social Studies, even Math. He will not pass the EXIT exam for high school and will not be able to go to college… He will live on SSI the rest of his life because he cannot get a decent job that will support him without a high school diploma or the necessary reading, language skills.
So, ask your doctor what he means by normal and please let me know his reasoning.