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Speech Delays? 5 Studies
Show Sign Language
Many fears exist regarding the use of sign language with children who have speech and language deficits. Will the use of sign language in their treatment slow the process of learning the spoken language? Will the child continue using sign language instead of speaking? Does learning sign language create miscues in the brain for communication?
There have been over 65 studies done to consider the efficacy of using sign language with infants and toddlers. The results show that not only does it not hurt, it helps in some very concrete ways.
1. Several studies have shown that there is a connection between learning a gesture or sign for a word helps to hasten the mastery of the spoken word. Signing and words both stimulate similar areas of the brain. Spencer Kelly (Http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01690960802365567)
has found that associating meaningful hand movements with new words increases word recollection.
2. Researchers Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn (http://faculty.washington.edu/sommej/Goodwynetal2000.pdf) found that children who learned to sign from the age of 11 months had larger vocabularies and used longer sentences at age two.
3. A small study of children with SLI (Http://www.manitasinmotion.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/1865_Robertson_Shari.pdf) showed that children learned twice as many words that were shown through speech and sign as compared to words only presented orally. Robertson also showed that these words were then incorporated into the children’s everyday vocabulary.
"As for children with speech and language delays, using sign language will allow them to begin communicating before they are able to speak as well. For some children, this is the push they need to begin speaking. This is often true for children with autism. Once these children learn the power of communication (through the use of signs), they often are more motivated to communicate through speech since they now realize what will happen when they communicate" – Carrie Clark, CCC-SLP
4. Research reviews ( Http://jslhr.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=1767605) show that using sign language does not prevent language acquisition but may support the ability to speak in children with developmental disabilities.
5. Providing both visual and auditory information stimulates the child’s brain in multiple ways, allowing the child to process using their strengths. For example, if the child has trouble with auditory learning, they are given a chance to learn visually. An extension of this is that an auditory stimulus is fleeting but a visual stimulus remains longer in the visual domain. This increases the time the child has to process the information. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/278400189_Using_Signs_to_Facilitate_Vocabulary_in_Children_With_Language_Delays)
Interested in using sign language with your child? This multi-sensory option is a great addition to your functional communication toolbox! Sign Language can help your child overcome barriers to effective communication and boost their self-esteem.