Will Early Signing Keep Your Child From Talking?

As an SLP, I’ve had a lot of parents ask me if their child learning ASL could slow down their speech. The short answer? No way! Here’s why:

  1. Signing is an excellent indicator that your child is communicating correctly! It’s a great way to see the thought process going on in their head, and measure their receptive language.
  2. For children, it can be easier to pick up on gestures before they can pick up on spoken language. Therefore, signing gives children a means of communicating while they are learning to speak.
  3. While teaching children new signs, it’s important to speak the words. This way, you can expose the child to oral communication at the same time. For example, as you sign the word “more,” say it over and over, as well.
  4. Research has shown that not only does signing not hinder speech, but it also hastens speech development and reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves before they know how to talk. It also increases parent-child bonding and lets babies communicate vital information, such as if they are hurt or hungry.
  5. Gestural communication is not only useful for the learning of spoken language, but it is critical as a young person begins to learn nuances of non-verbal communication.
  6. When a child uses sign language, they can develop their language system even before they can speak—this gives them a head start on communicating until their mouth and speech system can catch up!
  7. For some children with speech/language delays, sign language can be the “push” they need to begin speaking.
  8. It is crucial to remember that all children are different and signing may be beneficial in developing oral communication for some children, but not for others.

So there’s no need to worry! Communication of any kind at any age is always beneficial, and instead of holding a child back from verbalizing their thoughts, signing pushes them further!