Scott recently posted an update (his third or fourth on the subject, I've lost count now) on using the Signing Time DVD series to help babies learn to grow. I just wanted to send out a nod to Rachel Coleman and her company, Signing Time, as well. Since Vista was a few months old we've turned her onto Signing Time and she's grown to have a signing vocabulary of over 60 signs in the past year.
Is Vista hard of hearing? Not in the least. In fact she's overly sensitive to sounds and has the hearing equivalent of better than perfect vision.
When Vista was about 6 months old we got turned onto the Signing Time DVDs (by picking up a copy of Baby Signing Time). Until that point, Vista really didn't watch much TV (she still doesn't) and wasn't too interested in TreeHouse (the local kids learning channel). When we sat down and watched Baby Signing Time with her the first time, she was glued to the set. I don't know what it was about it, but she was totally into it. Now grant you, being fixated with a television show isn't the greatest thing to start your kids off with but we felt it was a learning tool and stuck it out to see what would happen.
Eventually she started showing signs of, well, signing. Her first "word" was milk. She started telling us when she wanted a bottle (or agreeing with us when we told her she needed one). It took time but at one point there was a literal explosion of signs. Within the span of days sometime after being exposed to the DVDs, she signed Dad, Sleep, and Baby. Other signs came along over time. Here was a child not even 1 year old and we were communicating and interacting with her. She could tell us when she was hungry, when she needed her diaper changed, and when she was tired and ready for bed. When our dogs bark, she started signing the sign for dog. It was literally incredible to watch this and experience it.
Vista is almost two now and the last time we went through and checked, she was signing up around 60 signs. I suspect that's grown as she keeps adding new ones. We find it amazing to discover new signs with her and frankly, sometimes she signs something that we look up and discover "Oh, I didn't know you knew that" (like Bear, which to this day I still don't know where she picked it up from). Vista is talking these days and will sometimes mix talking with signing, but that's okay since we understand her. Like I said, her hearing is superb. She's been slow to develop some skills (like motor skills and speech) so a few months she was tested for hearing. It turned out stellar and her hearing is better than average (which accounts to her sensitivity to loud sounds that scare her).
It doesn't matter if you child is hard of hearing or has some other disability (I hate that word as I don't consider it that, but can't think of a better term right now). Signing really helps kids communicate with parents faster. I don't know what frustrations we would have gone through if we had to wait until she was 1 1/2 or 2 years old before we could have a conversation with her. However learning it does take time, practice, and patience. It did explode for us and Vista was signing all kinds of things for a few weeks there but it took a long time (I think months) to get there. So be patient with them and don't just plop them in front of the TV and walk away. Interact, talk, encourage, and reward them. Eventually you'll hit paydirt and the jackpot will come in as they tell you what they want or how they feel, rather than crying or screaming at you.
I think the way Rachel presents the topic really hits home. This might be in part due to the fact that she created the Signing Time series to sign with her daughter Leah who is deaf. Rachel presents the sign, there's usually a graphic of it (sometimes an animation) and the word is spelled out on-screen. To support the sign there's sometimes a song (or at least music) to accompany it then short videos of real kids doing the sign. To me, this is probably the single selling factor that got Vista hooked. She just loves looking at babies (I think all babies do, don't they?) so seeing other kids actually performing the signs and the act associated with it (eating a cookie, drinking milk, having a bath, etc.) makes it that much more real. The association is what makes it real and grounded IMHO. We did try some other DVDs but they fell flat on their face with stale and lifeless content. Signing Time always keeps Vista's attention as she can relate to what's going on and reacts to it.
In any case, if you have a small child under 2 and you're interested I highly recommend Signing Time. Grab a copy of the Baby Signing Time kit to see if they like it and give it a whirl. It's a small investment for a big return. Like Scott, I am not affiliated with Signing Time but think Rachel and co. are in a word incredible.
Apologies for the non-technical interruption. We now return you to your normally geeky life.