Thursday, February 25, 2010

Autism & Sign Language

Should we teach kids with autism who have limited or no verbal communication sign language? It’s a good question. When we first started our journey many were afraid teaching a child with autism sign language would hurt their ability to become verbal. However, research as well as reports from parents and teachers has shown that in many cases sign language has actually helped children with autism become more verbal.

Sign language is inexpensive, portable, and a quick form of communication. (I especially like the inexpensive part, since most parents I talk to are constantly struggling with therapy costs…)

More benefits of sing language include:

  • Reducing negative behaviors such as tantrums, aggression or self injury which are often a result of being unable to communicate a want or need.
  • It gives people with autism a form of communication helping them to interact socially.
  • It can also cue a child during social situations or to give a caution or warning sign for potentially dangerous situations.
  • Some parents report enjoying a closer bond with their children by opening up a door for communication.

  • You can visit National Autism Resources for more information on sign language and autism.


    The Glasers said...

    Sign Language is a true language that has its own syntax and stimulates the same of the parts of the brain that spoke language stimulates. In fact, people who learn it later in like do not catch all the nuances of a native signer and sign as if it were an accent. Oliver Sack's Seeing Voices thoroughly impressed me with research on sign language and how it affects the brain, written in a way that only Oliver Sacks can write.

    We started off with sign with Pamela, and that lead to spoken words so she dropped it. Later, we took sign language classes with homeschooling co-ops for fun. I saw an interesting pattern which told me clearly that her language issues were due to aphasia. Just as with spoken language, she struggled with the syntax and grammar of sign! Not only that, the nuances signers put into facial expressions, pace, etc. was lost on her. Now that we have worked really hard on both syntax and nonverbals, I wonder how she would do.

    Bonnie said...

    I wounder how she would do too! Sign language really helped us to communicate especially when G was upset. Simple signs allowed him to say "time out" which meant, I need a break.

    Sue said...

    We used sign language with our son too - at that stage he was Dx as severe language disorder but is now going through Ax for high functioning autism. We probably used it for up to 2 years and then it naturally petered off. He loved it being very visual - he would sit and watch the training video.