Friday, October 3, 2008

Sign Language and Children with Down Syndrome

I have watched a lot of Signing Time in the past two years. On most of the videos they have a child or two with Down Syndrome showing the signs. Obviously, it was helpful to the child and their families, but I was always curious about it. What were the difficulties that American Sign Language (ASL) helped these children overcome? I stumbled upon this post by a parent of two boys with Down Syndrome. She explains receptive and expressive speech and the reasons her sons struggle with expressive language. She also gives suggestions for improved communication.

She doesn't address this, but I've read about children with Down Syndrome learning to read at a very young age through the use of sign language. The applications of sign language continue to amaze me.


Diane October 6, 2008 at 12:56 PM  

I have a child with Down syndrome who began learning ASL at 8 months. I saw her sign "Daddy" at 10 months and she hasn't lost her skill now that she is six-years-old. By recording the words I taught her each week I could keep a systematic record of the words I was using to help her gain vocabulary and communication with our family. She was able to sign, "stuck" at twelve months when I put her in her high chair and her leg was folded underneath her. The ASL tool combined with verbal language was the answer to her communication with us. Now, she signs the Pledge of Allegiance and nursery rhymes and songs. I teach ASL to her kindergarten class each week just to give all children additional language skills. Read more on my blog at
love, Diane

Holly Tried It October 8, 2008 at 8:13 PM  


That is great. Your idea for recording the words you've taught is great. Just press play and you can quickly practice every sign you know.

I've thought about seeing if I could teach sign language at my daughter's daycare, but I'm not sure how it would work. She wants me to hold her the whenever I'm there. But I've never hung out for an extended period of time.

I'll check out your blog.

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