Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Sign Language can help children who may have difficulty with speech

It has been shown that children with learning disabilities often need to have multiple senses stimulated simultaneously in order for them to learn effectively. Even boys (as opposed to girls) do better when movement, or a third sensory stimulus) is added to their learning regimen. Yet, in a normal classroom setting, children only listen to a teacher and see what is being demonstrated. In this example only two senses are stimulated and a single set of connections is made in the brain.

By stimulating the tactile centers of the brain with a hands-on activity like signing, that number of connections can be tripled. Connections would now be made between somatosensory and visual centers, somatosensory and auditory centers and visual and auditory centers. As a result, learning becomes more efficient and memory is enhanced, or in the case of a child with a learning disability, learning becomes possible. This is just one reason that children with learning disabilities benefit from the use of sign language in the classroom. However, sign language isn’t just for the learning disabled. All children tend to benefit from its application.

This may be why teachers and early childhood educators are piling into sign language and baby sign language workshops. A representative from Kauai-based company, Blossoming Little Minds, just recently gave a standing room only presentation about using sign language in the classroom at the 2010 HAEYC (Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children) conference. She covered many benefits of using sign language in a classroom and pointed out that those benefits are multiplied for children with learning disabilities, speech delays, Down Syndrome and autism. She said that Children with Down Syndrome may also have difficulty with speech and that using sing sign language can alleviate much of the stress and frustration that is due to the inability to communicate.

She went on to say that preverbal children that can communicate their needs, are more likely to get their needs met. As a result, these children are often more self-confident and have higher self esteem. Since self esteem is related to the future success of our children, it would only make sense to use a tool such as sign language to instill these qualities into our children at an early age and if signing can help children with learning disabilities too, then kudos to the teachers that attend these workshops so that they can help our children succeed.

For more information about the benefits of baby sign language, you may visit Blossoming Little Minds’ website.

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