Learning a new language is notoriously difficult as a teen or adult. The uncanny ability of babies and young children to quickly master new languages is a well-documented phenomenon that’s still not entirely understood. However, children who are hard of hearing or may be deaf have difficulties learning language, which can compromise their development. Researchers have found that the repetition needed to learn a language bolsters mental skills in the brain, helping children build skills and meet seemingly unrelated developmental milestones.
One might assume, based on that bleak prognosis, that hearing-impaired children are destined to struggle behind their peers. Thankfully that’s not necessarily the case. Researchers have found learning sign language provides the same benefits as learning a spoken language. Teaching sign language to non-deaf children can also be a beneficial tool to spur cognitive growth, as it not only helps their development, but can also help them communicate their needs at a much earlier age.
Teaching Young Children Sign Language
Babies’ vocal cords are unable to vibrate at a fast-enough frequency to speak complex words. However, in the 1800s, Yale Professor William Dwight Whitney discovered deaf children could communicate at six months old using sign language, and found they were less prone to outbursts or tantrums compared to children who could hear but couldn’t verbally communicate their needs.
Since Whitney’s observations, ASL practitioners and teachers find babies learn sign language best by:
- Keeping it fun – Focusing on playful, motivating signs
- Building a routine – Practicing repetition of essential signs in daily routines
- Reward progress – Encourage progress with praise and attention
- Building vocabulary – Beginning with essential signs and branching out based on the child’s likes or needs
Although babies between four to six months old are capable of understanding sign language, it takes them until they’re between seven to 10 months old to begin signing back. Babies can understand and perform simple signs such as “more,” which only requires the child to touch their hands together.
Receive Kid-Friendly Hearing Tests with Davis Family Hearing
At Davis Family Hearing we provide thorough audiological testing for children of all ages, including newborns. As a full-service audiology clinic, all our equipment and testing methods are kid friendly.
Testing is crucial for children before the age of five, as they begin to acquire speech and language in this stage of development, affecting their ability to learn for the rest of their lives. We provide the following tests:
- Complete Audiological Evaluations
- Conditioned Play Audiometry
- Visual Reinforcement Audiometry
- Hearing Aid Evaluations
- Cochlear Implant Evaluations
- Bone Anchored Instrument Evaluations
- Middle Ear Measurements
- Otoacoustic Emissions
- Auditory Brainstem Response Testing
- Auditory Processing Disorder Evaluations
- Tinnitus Evaluations
Whether your visit is for a hearing test, ear infections, hearing aids or cochlear implants, we are here to create a customized treatment plan to address your child’s unique auditory needs. Davis Family Hearing’s doctors are patient, friendly and can provide a calm environment where you can learn about your child’s hearing and how it may affect their development.
Contact Davis Family Hearing today to schedule an appointment.
Here’s a fun and informative lesson on teaching the basic words to your children, by coachwells5!