Dear Doctor Teresa,
I have heard of people using sign language with infants to help them communicate. Is this helpful? I am afraid to use this with my daughter. I am afraid she won't start talking and depend on signing instead.
L.H. New York, NY.
Signing is great to do with infants. Learning to speak is the most complicated skill we will ever learn to do. Our cognitive and thinking processes develop faster than the fine motor speech skills we need to express ourselves. Before children are able to control their articulators sufficiently to produce words, they are able to control the grosser movements of their arms and hands. Children can easily learn signs to express wants and needs. They can be more effective communicators which will likely minimize breakdowns in communication and frustration. Research suggests that alternative forms of communication, like signing, can facilitate not inhibit verbal speech.
I think it is a great idea.
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