Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. Having lived in the Treasure Valley for over 10 years, I teach Basic American Sign Language (based on the award winning Signing Time curriculum) to families & professionals of all ages. With a background in Music Therapy, I have been a musician/teacher for over 18 years in a myriad of different settings. These include (but are not limited too) psychiatric settings, medical settings, public/private/homes school settings, & nursing homes. One of my greatest joys in life is the honor of being a ‘stay at home mom’ where I am using these skills to love on my two sons: Braydon (our 3 year old bio son) and Teshome (our 18 month old adopted son from Ethiopia)
Having been signing since High School, it was quite natural for ASL to be the first language I introduced to both of my sons. Signing with my eldest son simply helped reap the rich benefits of signing with a hearing son. When we adopted our youngest son at 7 months old, signing not only became an invaluable tool for attachment but it also created a simpler common language for us to communicate, reducing frustration as we were able to meet the cycle of needs much quicker.
As a Certified Master Signing Time Instructor I am passionate about helping other families harness the power of communication through ASL.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. I enjoy helping other families harness the power of communication through ASL.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. Q. What research exists about the benefits of using sign language with hearing children?
Research has been conducted for decades that shows the many benefits of signing with children We have a few of the best-known resources here to share with you if you visit our website.
Q. How early can I start to sign with my child?
Start signing now! You can sign "milk" to your newborn when it's time to nurse or time for a bottle. Sign "sleep" at nap and bedtimes. Take your baby's hands and help them sign "more" in-between each spoonful. This will help integrate signs into your daily routine. Soon the repetition and reinforcement will occur naturally as your infant grows. Signing will also help your infant realize that crying is not the only way of communicating.
Q. My child is already talking. Why should they learn ASL?
Learning a second language is fun and has many developmental benefits. In addition to being the 4th most used language in the US, ASL stimulates learning through different senses. Sign language is a blessing for children that are "visual", "spatial" or "tactile learners." Learning a second language raises your child's IQ. With one in ten Americans have some degree of hearing loss and many more children with disabilities communicating primarily through ASL, knowing a few signs can give your child the confidence to engage and interact with a child who are deaf or have disabilities.
Q. Will learning signs delay my child's speech?
Some parents fear that signing will delay or further delay speech. Our experience has been the opposite. If your goal is communication, then signing will meet that communication need much earlier than speech. Rachel Coleman, co-creator of Signing Time said, "When we found out Leah was deaf, many people warned us to be careful with signing. They said, 'If she gets too comfortable signing, she will never speak.' Their intentions were good, but they were absolutely wrong. Luckily, we first gave Leah a complete language in signs, only then was she able to take time to work on the skill of labeling those signs through her speech. English is a language. American Sign Language is a language. Spanish is a language. But speech, it is a skill...and Leah is a little chatterbox!"
Q. It seems really hard - I don't have time to learn a whole new language like ASL and teach it to my child.
Parenting can be very overwhelming because there never seems to be enough time. This is why we created Signing Time Classes- we do most of the work for you! This makes ASL easy and fun for all ages. You don't have to learn an entire language. Even learning two or three key vocabulary words like MORE or MILK will be beneficial!
Q. Do I have to become fluent in ASL?
No, you don't (unless you have a really good reason to!). Signing Time provides parenting tools for communication through the use of ASL. I think you will be surprised how useful it is to learn even a few signs.
If fluency is your goal, ASL, like any second language, takes time and practice. Surrounding yourself with others that are fluent will really boost your skills and your confidence.
If you are interested in learning more, check out your Community Education Programs and Community Center for the Deaf. Many Jr. High Schools, High Schools, Community Colleges and Universities now include ASL in their curriculum. There are sign language interpreting programs all across the country.
Q. Why do you use ASL and not made up signs?
If you are going to make the effort to teach and reinforce signs for communication purposes, it makes sense to use signs that are part of a living language that have meaning to the hundreds of thousands of ASL users. Additionally, your child's caregivers (Doctors, preschools, daycare centers, and elementary schools) are far more likely to use ASL than to try and learn individual "made up" signs for each child for whom they care.
Hearing children that start out as "baby signers" can comfortably transition into communication with deaf children and adults, and take advantage of other ASL materials (videos, ASL playgroups, etc...). They have also laid a foundation for the study of ASL as a second language later in their academic careers. All of this is possible by simply using real ASL signs instead of made up or adapted signs.
And finally, many of our Deaf customers have pointed out that made up signs run the risk of actually "saying" something unintended in ASL, leading to potentially humorous if not embarrassing situations.
Q. My child does not do the signs correctly. Is that okay?
Most children adapt signs to whatever they are physically able to do. As their fine motor skills develop further, their signs will also develop. This is very similar to the pattern in speech development; "Da-da" suddenly becomes "Daddy" or "Dad."
Q. How soon will my child start to sign?
There are a few factors to consider: how early you start, how frequently or consistently you use signs, as well as the child's ability or developmental stage. If you start signing with your newborn, they may not reciprocate until 8-14 months old. If you start with your 2 year old, they may respond immediately, or it could take a couple of months. If your child has physical, mental or developmental delays, take that into consideration. Rachel Coleman's second daughter Lucy had no words and no signs and showed no interest in communication for her first two years. Her doctors did not expect that to change. Rachel and her husband didn't give up - they continued exposing her to sign and speech, and suddenly she had a language explosion in speech AND sign!
Q. My child can hear. Why should they learn American Sign Language (ASL)?
Most children are not developmentally ready to speak until approximately 2 years of age. Babies are developmentally able to communicate with signs much earlier than that. Some studies indicate children as young as 5 to 6 months of age can communicate with limited signs. The inability to communicate can cause frustration and tantrums for both the parent and the child! Sign language is a wonderful tool that allows even very small children to express themselves. Most parents that sign with their babies talk about an unexplainable bond that is felt when their child communicates so early!
Obviously your child will be fine without learning ASL, but there are so many developmental and social benefits that they will have access to should you choose to do so. Most parents want to give their child every advantage in life possible, and signing is one way to do that.
Q. I have heard that signing can help with tantrums and "The Terrible Twos." How is that?
Many tantrums and the "Terrible Twos" are directly linked to frustration about communication. There is less frustration when your child can augment their communication skills with signs that both of you can understand.
Q. Are my kids too old for Signing Time?
While the Signing Time products were created for children ages 0-8, ALL ages love Signing Time. Why? It makes ASL so easy and fun. We have heard from customers of all ages who have found remarkable uses for our products, including stroke patients who have lost their speech, parents of children adopted from other countries who don't speak the same language, helping children with speech delays or no speech at all due to disabilities... the list goes on. Sign language is a valuable tool at any age. Older children will quickly learn all of the signs AND they will pick up the additional signs that we show in the songs. Many older children love the idea of sign language as their "secret language." It is a real language used by millions of Americans, including Leah, and the benefits of learning a second language are far-reaching.