The Power of Baby Sign Language


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In my spare time, I visit with the kiddos at a local children’s shelter. Recently, during one of my visits, I spent time with a 5-year-old girl who was nonverbal. Her personality was so amazing, and boy didn’t she have the cutest smile?

The staff had a troublesome time interacting with her. In the hours that I spent with her, I noticed that she loved water play. Her smile did not diminish while she played tirelessly in a small kiddy pool. She jumped, she laughed, she giggled, and she invited others to play with her. Her younger brother quickly joined in, and the two of them danced ever so energetically. They seemed to talk with limbs. There was no need for verbal communication. Their demeanor said it all. They were happy.

Later that night, during snack time, the staff was trying to figure out if she wanted milk or water to go with her snack. Of course, she didn’t verbalize which one she wanted. So naturally, as I asked, “milk” or “water” I signed milk (clenching fist) and water (3 fingers to form “W” moving back-and-forth from my mouth). Her eyes lit up, and she started to clench her fist. The sweet girl wanted milk, and that’s what she got.

In that moment, I was so thrilled to have been a help to not only the staff but also the little girl and her brother, because he began to sign his wants and needs as well. I was overjoyed. We communicated during the rest of my time there with child sign language.

*this post was originally written in 2017 during my time at a local children’s shelter, and it brings tears to my eyes til this day. 

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