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American Sign Language (ASL) For Everyone

Updated on October 12, 2014

Sign Language for Families... not just babies.

I have been interested in sign language my whole life. I am far from fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), but I have always known the basics. When I was pregnant with my daughter I looked at research discussing the benefit of teaching sign language to infants. I'm not a fan of baby signs, only of using ASL with babies. There is a difference, ASL is a language that you and your child can use your whole life. Baby signs are made up gestures that your child will soon outgrow. I think parents, caregivers and educators should all learn a bit of sign and teach the young people in their life.

Where We Started

Back in 2001 I searched the internet for information and came across the website of Joseph Garcia, the author of SIGN with your BABY. I was really excited by his studies and I purchased his Complete Learning Kit, which includes a book, training video, and reference guide. I chose his system because it uses ASL as it's base. Before my daughter was born my husband and I 'studied' watching the video and reading the book. We wanted to learn the signs and be ready to start teaching her early on.

Progress

When our daughter was about 2 months old we started signing to her on a regular basis. We began with a few signs (more, milk, eat) and that is all we showed her until she started signing back. She made her first sign at 7 months of age and we were so proud and excited by her accomplishment. We slowly added new signs when she showed interest in something. By the time she was 1 1/2 years old she could sign at least 24 words. At that point her signing vocabulary consisted of: more, milk, eat, bread, banana, water, change, bath, all done, shoes, socks, bed, book, baby, potty, bye, fan, ouch, I love you, fish, monkey, lion, bird, cat (and there are probably more I am forgetting).

Our family and friends were always impressed by how much she was learning. She seemed to enjoy it so much and she was able to tell us things that she couldn't yet say out loud. She didn't get frustrated because she was able to communicate with us. If she wanted something she let us know. As her speech progressed she would combine spoken words and signs to form whole sentences.

It is so easy and helpful, it really benefits everyone involved. I recommend signing to every parent I know and cannot praise it enough. Some people are worried that signing delays speech. We haven't found this to be true at all. She has always had a large vocabulary for her age and it was extended even further at a young age through signing.

Beyond Babyhood

Once our daughter was signing well we purchased the first three volumes of Signing Time made by Two Little Hands Productions - "My First Signs", "Playtime Signs", and "Everyday Signs". They are videos geared toward young children teaching sign language in a fun way. With these she learned even more signs and enjoyed seeing other children sign to her on the screen. After that we bought each new Signing Time set as they came out. Volumes 4-6, 7-9 and 10-13. By the time she was 3 she had learned over 200 signs. She got to help teach signs to her preschool class. She even appears in three of the Signing Time Videos! Volume 10 singing "Fun", Volume 11 signing "Kite" and Volume 12 signing "Popcorn".

I used to have the 3 video clips here in this lens but SigningTime asked me to remove them from YouTube. :(

Big Kids

Even as she got older, the need for signing had changed but we didn't give it up. I can sign to her across the playground, or when she is in class and I don't want to interrupt, when she is on the other side of a window, or when it's something I don't want someone else to hear. Signs like "try", "be careful", "pay attention", "stop", "no", "yes" and my favorite of all "I love you" are still part of our everyday conversation.

Our Day with Signing Time

We were so glad to have made the 3 hour drive to Charlemont MA (in the pouring rain) on October 8, 2005. Our daughter Lexi was SO excited to meet Rachel, Alex and Leah I can't even tell you. She was completely star struck. When we got to the playdate she asked where they were, but we hadn't seen them yet. Starving after the long trip we went to the cafeteria first to grab some lunch. While we were eating my husband saw Rachel come in and Lexi rushed over to say hi. I had to call her back over to eat or she wouldn't have left her. Then she couldn't wait to see Leah and Alex. Lexi was 4 years old and these two kids are not only 'super stars' to her but they are 'big kids' too so she was really nervous when she had the chance to meet them. She didn't know what to say but just being able to stand next to them made her smile from ear to ear. She just kind of followed them around and watched in awe. LOL

She got a turn to get on camera and do some signs. My husband and I were so involved in watching what she was doing we both forgot to take pictures while she was in there (sigh) I could tell the process was a little intimidating for her but I know she loved it because she kept asking to go back and be filmed some more.

I loved watching all of the kids sit in front of Rachel and learn new signs. Even more kids sat watching some new songs. A few were dancing around. So cute!

The show was terrific. The school kids were adorable and it was so cool that kids in the audience got to go up on stage too. We didn't let our daughter go up the first time and she was so upset. Thankfully Rachel asked more kids to go up for the Silly Pizza song and even though I didn't think Lexi would sign while she was up there I let her go up because she wanted to so badly. To my surprise she DID sign through the whole song! I was there in the third row 'helping' her, but I was so proud that she did it and she was proud of herself!

Oh I have to mention Lucy! Oh my goodness I don't know how Rachel got through that song without breaking down. I had a lump in my throat the whole time. It didn't help that I was already crying before the song started. I told Lexi to listen carefully because Lucy was singing and she did then yelled out "I can hear her!" with a big smile.

Signing Time! 1-3

My First Signs DVD, Playtime Signs DVD, Everyday Signs DVD, and the accompanying music CD.

Signing Time! 4-6

Family, Feelings, & Fun DVD, ABC Signs DVD, My Favorite Things DVD, and the accompanying music CD.


Colors of the Rainbow

My daughter taught her Kindergarten class, as well as other classes in her school the signs for this song. :)

They were learning about rainbows and this song was a big hit!

More Signing Time Videos

How old was your baby when they made their first sign?

(If you have signed with more than one child use the youngest age.)

Parents want to know!

See results

Signing Time's Second Series

Series 2 DVDs:

Volume 1: Nice to Meet You
Volume 2: Happy Birthday to You
Volume 3: Move and Groove

Volume 4: My Favorite Season
Volume 5: Going Outside
Volume 6: Days of the Week
Volume 7: My Favorite Sport

Volume 8: My House
Volume 9: My Things
Volume 10: Helping Out Around the House

Volume 11: Once Upon a Time
Volume 12: Box of Crayons
Volume 13: Who Has the Frog?

Signing Time Series Two DVD + CD Collection
$199.99

From Series Two Volume 13

Share Your Signing Stories

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    • ThisisMissyMiss profile image

      Mommy 5 years ago from The Fabulous Midwest

      Our family learned some signs to communicate with my son when he was nonverbal now. Nice lens.

    • EllieHarper profile image

      EllieHarper 5 years ago

      Great lens. Lots of fantastic resources.I absolutely love ASL.

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 6 years ago

      Love this.. .my youngest was taught some ASL in pre-school, and she stuck with it for quite a while. Wish I'd been more proactive in helping her stick with it...

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      @Christene-S: Thanks Christene :)

    • Christene-S profile image
      Author

      Christene-S 6 years ago

      @KathyMcGraw2: We do still use signs once in a while. When she's in her gymnastics class I can sign "try" or "pay attention" or "be careful" without embarrassing her haha. Other signs we use often are yes, no, bathroom, and I love you. (Lexi turns 11 this summer!)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      I learned a lot, and how cute your daughter got to sign songs for Videos. I never even thought of teaching a child sign language as a baby, so this was interesting. Does she still sign?

    • TopToysForKids profile image

      TopToysForKids 6 years ago

      My sister actually went to school and got a degree in ASL with a twist; it was for Spanish. She can translate English to Spanish or vice versa by signing. Excellent lens. Thanks.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 6 years ago

      My daughter was about three when I showed her the few signs I knew. (That's when we started home schooling.) She learned other signs along the way to adulthood through educational television programs. While she was in high school (still home schooled), she took four semesters of ASL. After MY teaching HER from K-12, she began to teach ME - American Sign Language. Now we are both interpreters. Teaching your kids to sign can be so rewarding! :)

    • bhthanks profile image

      bhthanks 6 years ago

      signing sounds like a great option for communicating with babies

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      Just popping by again, this time without controversy to say well done.

    • profile image

      grannysage 7 years ago

      I wish I had known about baby signing when my kids were born, Just thinking how frustrated they must get when they can't communicate their needs. It is amazing how much they can say with signing. I enjoyed watching Marley Maitlin on Celebrity Apprentice. She has definitely been a role model for learning to sign.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 7 years ago

      Great resource! my daughter uses Makaton, it seems to be the standard for special needs children in the UK

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 7 years ago from Texas

      I taught all 3 of my kids sign language starting at around 5 months old. I started learning sign language at church around 7 years old and have always been interested in it. I love the Signing Time series. It's entertaining and very educational. I learned new signs right along with my babies by watching the videos with them. *~blessed~*

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 7 years ago from California

      I SquidLiked this lens years ago, and enjoyed visiting again with a little Angel pixie dust!

    • JeremiahStanghini profile image

      JeremiahStanghini 7 years ago

      I'm looking forward to learning ASL at some point.With Love and Gratitude,Jeremiah

    • juliannegentile profile image

      Julianne Gentile 7 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, US

      returning to bless this lens.

    • profile image

      aslterp7 7 years ago

      Great lens, keep it up.I have been signing all my life since I am a CODA and my daughters are Deaf... check me out at dcastle.com or squidoo.com/asldan or squidoo.com/solardan or dansolar.wordpress.com.

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 7 years ago

      My kids learned signing and they had very few tantrums. My daughter learned baby signs; we did Signing time with ds. Dd is now taking a sign language class at our church.

    • NarrowPathPubli profile image

      NarrowPathPubli 7 years ago

      Awesome lens! When I taught autistic children I used some signs with them. One child imitated every sign I made, and one of my favorite moments was when we went on a field trip and the assistants went into Burger King to get food for the kids. He tapped me on the osulder and made the sign for "eat".

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      My little guy was in an early intervention program because he had muscular torticollis. While in the program they taught them how to do a few signs, which he didn't need since he was completely verbal. It was funny, though, because he quickly figured out he could stuff his mouth full of food and "sign" the word for "more". lol!!! Great lens! Blessed by an Angel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      A beautiful thing you did. My daughter was born with complications and suffered hearing loss from birth to age 6. Her hearing was miraculously restored at age 6 but we did some signing. Mostly she lip read, so well in fact that not I or the doctor knew she wasn't hearing until she was 3yrs old. Now the tables are turned, I can hear fine but my injury messed up my vocals and so I sign when my voice goes out. Always looking to learn more! What a wonderful idea for any child to know. This has encouraged me to go back and refresh my child's sign vocabulary.

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 8 years ago

      I have 2 ADHD children. The first thing they taught them in Resource at school was sign language as it helped them read, spell and comprehend. A tool we should all look into. Great information.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 8 years ago from Central Florida

      I started teaching ASL to my daughter when she was 8 months old thru the Baby Signing Time videos, and it's been immensely helpful in our communication. Your lens is very thorough, helpful and fun. So fun that your daughter got to be on Signing Time and meet Rachel, Leah and Alex. :) I'm lensrolling it to my lens about Baby Signing Time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Terrific lens. Very informative. My baby's first sign was "more" but he's two now and he signs the entire alphabet, all his colors, his numbers 1 - 10, fruits, veggies, animals and people. He's really good. I've been working with him since he was 6 months old. It really works. Lens rolling this to:Teaching Your Children Sign LanguageSign Language Alphabet

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Re-blessing... This lens is featured on A Day of 100 Squid Angel Blessings.

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 9 years ago

      Lovely lens ~ I'm lensrolling you to my Momography: Parenting a Deaf Child lens. Very nicely done :o)

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 9 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      A friend and I learned some basics growing up. I've always found it interesting. Congratulations on the purple star.

    • profile image

      enslavedbyfaeries 9 years ago

      I have heard of teaching babies sign language, but never considered how practical it would be on an everyday basis. Thanks for sharing your experiences with ASL. It was very enlightening to learn more about it. That's very cool that your daughter got to be on the show too!! :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Oh me! I love this lens. I have always been fascinated with sign language, too! I used to work with Adult Developmentally Disabled and we taught them very basic signs which made communicating much more enjoyable. I catch myself wanting to sign to get people's attention and then realize that they wouldn't understand. It is so beautiful and so is this lens.

    • blakesdad lm profile image

      blakesdad lm 9 years ago

      Useful, practical and informative. Five stars!

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 9 years ago from USA

      This is wonderful.

    • DebtSolutions22 profile image

      DebtSolutions22 9 years ago

      I love this lens. My son started signing when he was about 12 months. I would definitely teach the rest of my children ASL as it definitely helps out with communication. Great information and thanks for sharing your personal experience.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      How wonderful to share something special like this with your daughter. I hope you keep the lens updated as she grows, to let us know how she applies ASL in her life. Wonderful lens!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 9 years ago from Canada

      A beautiful lens with a lot of helpful resources! Great job!Brenda

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Cool lens. I've heard about the baby signs before, but actually using ASL is a really cool idea. Then your kid and you be come bilingual. Thank you!

    • PattB LM profile image

      PattB LM 9 years ago

      Great lens, Christene. My grandmother who lived with our family was deaf. She read lips pretty well, however, and the only sign language that was used was what we make up to get our point across, before giving up and writing her a note. How much simpler it would have been if we all had known sign language. I tried taking some classes later in life, but unfortunately didn't keep up with it. I've often thought of how useful it would be for divers, loud concerts and restaurants. Thanks for your promotion of teaching it to babies! 5 stars!

    • icjackson profile image

      icjackson 9 years ago

      Your daughter got to be on Signing Time? That is so AWESOME!I just featured this lens here:Teach Yourself American Sign Language - Basic Sign Language Studies Online5 stars for a GREAT lens!

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      Blessed by a Booster Angel!

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      I think using sign with young children is a genius idea. Thanks for sharing your experience with it with us.

    • VSP profile image

      VSP 9 years ago

      I taught my girls some ASL, when they were older. I wish I'd know about it when they were infants, would have saved a lot of whining and guessing. Thank you for doing this lens. I hope others will follow your lead and teach it to their infants.

    • profile image

      john_smith 9 years ago

      Fanstatic work Dear. Remember me feel my Childhood.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great lens--i worked with a deaf student on writing tutoring once and learned a lot about asl and the deaf comunity doing it--it was very rewarding. Thanks for getting the word out about this wonderful language. thanks also for your blessing on my parrot lens :)

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      5 Stars and Favored!Chester Raccoon has been learning sign language and was delighted to find your lens.

    • VBright profile image

      VBright 9 years ago

      nice lens! I am deaf, although oddly enough, I am not yet teaching my grand kids. I can speak, and read lips, so for right now, that works

    • Christene-S profile image
      Author

      Christene-S 10 years ago

      Hi SpookThanks for your post. :) I was going to send you an email but you don't have your "contact me" function turned on. You can email me if you'd like.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 10 years ago

      Dear Christene,I have just browsed through your lens and it gives me a much better idea of what you were trying,very nicely to explain when you answered my question in the forum.So I am going to take this opportunity to thank you sincerely.Having said that being deaf myself,I was suprised to find that there where so many people interestedthis is a bit of a shock to me.Although I've been deaf for 36 years now,have only ever met one deaf person before.I would like it if you could contact me as I have more to say but this is not the right place.Congratulations on a well presnted,relevant lens.Wish you luck. Cheers, Spook

    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 10 years ago

      Excellent work Christene. Certainly a Squid Angel Blessing worthy lens! My oldest, Cassandra, who just turned 18, is finishing her 2-year degree in a few months. She's been accepted into Washington State University for their education program and will be getting her teaching credentials through WSU starting this fall. Cassandra wants to work with the deaf and mute and has been taking sign language classes regularly. Funny thing is she has been teaching my youngest, Carly, 2 years old, sign language. They are starting to communicated via sign. I better get on the ball on this one! lol

    • Teacher Adez7 profile image

      Teacher Adez7 10 years ago

      Rarely do I promote the same lens twice, but this one is worthy of that honor. Christene you have gone over the top with this one. I love it.

    • Teacher Adez7 profile image

      Teacher Adez7 10 years ago

      Hi Christine, I love this lens. All my children were taught to sign at a very young age and they loved it. 5*'s from me for a job well done.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 10 years ago

      Christene, your beautiful lens really touched my heart! I started home-schooling my daughter at age 3, showing her the few signs I knew. She just couldn't get enough! Sesame Street signing fascinated her. We learned more from a PBS series, "Say It With Sign." Wherever she could learn more, she did. During high school she took four semesters of ASL college classes. After graduation, she continued her education with an ASL Bible class. She became a sign language instructor herself, and is currently working as a professional interpreter for deaf college students.Coming full circle, my precious daughter (whom I home-schooled for 12 years) became MY teacher. She taught me to sign, and I am eternally grateful to her for the gift of such a beautiful language. I now have the privilege of teaching others & serving as an ASL interpreter. Together we now share in distributing a brand-new Bible on DVD in ASL free to all.Keep up the good work, Christene! You will reap unimagined blessings!

    • Christene-S profile image
      Author

      Christene-S 10 years ago

      Thank you LaraineRose :)I added it to my Sign Language Links module.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 10 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Dear Christine, What a wonderful gift you have shared with your daughter! I am a hearing person but have always taken a great interest in languages. I started learning ASL 1 1/2 years ago. I am currently passing this great gift on to a small class of my own. There is a great Internet Site called "ASL-Pro". This is set up as an ASL dictionary where you will find a Baby-words ASL Dictionary too. You might want to add this to your lens. Just a suggestion. I'm giving you 5 stars. (Your daughter is adorable!)

    • lizthefair profile image

      lizthefair 10 years ago

      What a great Lens! I learned basic ASL in high school, but don't use it much now--and thus have forgotten a lot.

    • profile image

      willbucks 10 years ago

      Awesome lense. Both of my parents are deaf. ASL is my first language. Of course the only signing I taught was ASL to my son who is now 3 1/2. Which naturally led me to teaching it to the day care center etc.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      What you did w/your daughter is fantastic! You never know when it will be of help to someone it makes you appreciate those with disabilities. I learned ESL in college, but it would have been nice to know from a younger age! Stop by my lens sometime - Organize YHB. Cheers!

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Nice lens! :)

    • sdtechteacher profile image

      sdtechteacher 10 years ago

      What a great lens. I know so many people who had peaceful homes because they could communicate with their babies. 5 stars.sdtechteacherhttp://www.squidoo.com/sandiegokidshttp://www.squi...

    • profile image

      FESA 10 years ago

      Wow, another great lens! This is such interesting and vital information. I did some signing with my children when they were young and found it most helpful. You are one of my all-time favourite lensmasters (I have a few). Keep up the wonderful work Christene! Fran

    • profile image

      Enchanted_Ways 10 years ago

      Great lens! So much information!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 10 years ago

      What a great story. I have friends who used baby signs, and like you say, they outgrow those. I wish they taught ASL in public schools.

    • profile image

      KimberlyDawnWel1 11 years ago

      Wow, fabulous job! Thanks for being a part of the Success with Squidoo MySpace Group. Keep up the awesome work.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 11 years ago from USA

      Very interesting lens. My children are grown but I will pass this along to others who may want to try this.

    • profile image

      mommaf8 11 years ago

      Just wanted to tell you I admire what you've done here. I used a little bit of sign language with my children when they were little

    • daoine lm profile image

      daoine lm 11 years ago

      I've been fascinated with this concept since my friend tried signing with her baby. I think it's a great idea.

    • profile image

      WAHMama 11 years ago

      we thought of signing with our son, but just never did enough study to impliment it, and we only knew about baby sign books. I love the idea of using ASL with babies because it's truly a useful life skill!

    • profile image

      gp1628 11 years ago

      Interestingly since signs are visually based more than spelling based (flower looks like a flower instead of doing the english spelling of flower) it can amount to being an international language which your child might fall back on in a bad situation overseas. Im daycare for my handicapped son.

    • JayShaffstall LM profile image

      JayShaffstall LM 11 years ago

      Our daughter of 21 months uses signs very well for communicating. The most exciting part is that we taught her only about half the signs she uses...the rest she created once she realized she could communicate using signs!

    • profile image

      webseitler 11 years ago

      We love to use baby signs. Our favorite is to teach our kids to say "please" instead of "grunt, grunt, whine" when they are hungry. ;) It's more like a word for "FEED ME!" LOL!

    • KCStargazer profile image

      KCStargazer 11 years ago

      Very useful! Thanks for the great lens. Welcome to the Kaleidoscope Group!

    • rogercarr lm profile image

      rogercarr lm 11 years ago

      I only found out recently about the ability and benefits of teaching your baby sign language. We have a friend who has a baby who signs many words but is too young to talk! It was hard to believe. This is a great lens on the topic.

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