The Benefits of Sign Language


In the past decade or so, sign language has expanded beyond the deaf community. Many therapists, teachers and parents have started implementing sign language while working with children with developmental delays.  These children and families are using a Total Communication approach that uses and encourages all methods of communication – from hearing speech, signing, talking, reading, writing, etc.  One of the benefits of Total Communication is that it’s adjusted to fit the needs of the child.

Using sign language has several benefits for you and your child.  Always say the word while you are signing to help your child associate the sign with its meaning.  This develops listening skills and visual attention – which are both important in the development of spoken language (Hendrickson, 1988).  Other benefits include:

Improving Communication Skills:  Signs can help your child request and name objects, name people and expressive their wants and needs – which are important expressive language skills.

Increasing Confidence and Self-Esteem:  Children are empowered and are able to express their own wants and needs and make choices using signs.

Reducing Frustration:  Children with language delays and disorders are often frustrated when others don’t understand what they’re trying to say.  Signing gives them a way to communicate so others can understand.

Expressing Learned Concepts And Skills:  Many children understand more than they are able to say.  Signing allows a child to express their understanding of skills such as identifying and naming colors, shapes, letters, etc.

Increasing Social and Peer Interactions:  Signing provides a way for children to interact with their peers.  From signing “my turn” to “I want to play,” building peer relationships is important for social skills and language development.

If you and your child are learning signs, it’s important to be consistent and use the signs frequently.  For children with speech and language delays, it’s also important to encourage them to vocalize and make sounds while they are signing.  Many children will use sign language as a stepping stone to speech.  Children will first learn the sign, then start to vocalize while signing, then say the word and drop the sign.

There have been many studies about the benefits of sign language. All the studies show that when children learn to use signs, their vocabulary and reading skills increase.  For more information about the benefits of sign language and how to learn signs, please visit the following links:

Sign Language Research

The Comprehensive Signed English Dictionary

Signing Savvy

Sign Language for Special Needs

Signing Time Videos


Hendrickson, S. 1988. Sign Language Can Help Your Child. Communication Skill Builders.

Ricekehof, L. 1978. The joy of signing: The new illustrated guide for mastering sign language and the manual alphabet.  Gospel Publishing.


Next Post
Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. CRAP Mamma » The Hoarse Whisperer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: