Raising a non-verbal child is difficult to say the least. Sure, when you’re with a kid all day you learn to understand their wants and needs through their baby babble but a lot of times I’m just sitting there staring at my son thinking, “I have no idea what the F you just said…”
When Eli was a year and a half, his speech therapist suggested I try sign language and she gave me a beginning sign language notebook and some sign language DVDs. We watched the DVDs but the only thing that interested Eli was this weird sock monkey guy that popped up and did silly things; as soon as he was off screen he instantly lost interest. I tried a couple of signs but Eli didn’t really take it from me. Then he went into daycare and they taught him and all the other kids the signs for “Please” and “All done” and from there his sign language took off. As soon as he got those first two signs down I went back to my sign language folder and found more basics. Our therapist wanted to shoot for at least two new signs a month. Now at three years old my son can only verbally say about 4 words, but he can sign over 20. He picks up signs almost instantly now. He does have some fine motor delays so we have to steer away from signs that use a lot of finger motions, but so far he’s doing amazing.
Sign language not only helps me from trying to guess what he needs as if he were still an infant, but it also helps Eli with his tantrums and frustrations. When he’s crying he can tell me that he hit his head and just wants a kiss. When he yelling because he can’t get his toy open he brings it to me and signs “open”. If any of you haven’t already, teach your kids sign language, you don’t need to sign up for a class, just google certain signs and try it yourself!
I would love nothing more to hear my son speak the words “mommy” or “I love you” out loud to me, but having him sign them is just enough for now.
Signs Eli knows: Yes, No, More, Please, All Done, Help, Food, Hungry, Drink, Mama, Daddy, Go, Come, Thank you, Car, Video game, iPad, Sleep, Open, Close, Jump, I love you.