How’s Your ASL Baby?


Research indicates how teaching sign language to babies produces positive results even as they enter into their elementary school years.

Although little research has been done on baby signing, the research that has been conducted is very positive (Goodwyn & Acredolo, 2000). It has been shown that baby signing can be beneficial for cognitive and emotional behaviors in infants (Goodwyn & Acredolo, 2000).
Goodwyn and Acredolo’s study (2000) consisted of 103, 11 month old babies…divided into two groups…the sign training group and the non-intervention group (control group). Results showed that the signing group reached developmental milestones earlier and found that this continued even when they were tested at age 5 compared to other groups. Goodwyn and Acredolo claim from their extensive research over the past 20 years that a child’s IQ can go to “12 points higher” by using sign language in early development (Goodwyn & Acredolo, 2012).

In a research study conducted by Pizer (2007), it was found that baby signing reduced “frustration on the part of the
child, accelerated spoken language development, improved parent-child bonding, and increased IQ” (Pizer, 2007, pg. 390). With the research that is available, baby signing has shown very positive outcomes to language development in children.

The following is posted by The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center of Corpus Christi.

*Children who learn sign language may have more brain capacity later, learn to speak sooner, and do better on future IQ tests. (the Daily Oklahoman, March 1999)

*11-month-olds who learned sign language outscored non-signing peers in language abilities, standard IQ tests and vocabulary comprehension tests after second grade. (the Daily Oklahoman, March 1999)

*An answer to the comment, “if he learns to sign, he’s not going to talk”: Research has shown that babies who learn to communicate with sign language are quicker to speak than their non-signing peers. Signing creates a more verbal environment, because babies initiate conversation about subjects that interest them, and their parents more consciously repeat words. Earlier exposure to successful communication actually drives babies to want to speak sooner. (the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 3, 2001)

*Hearing babies speak their first word, on the average, when they’re 13 months old and speak two- or three- word sentences by the time they’re 20 months old. In contrast, some babies can start signing words such as “more” and “milk” at 8 months and can build vocabularies of dozens of signs within months. (the Blade – Toledo, Ohio, September 9, 2001)

So with all of this research, I was wondering if there are any parents out there who have regretted teaching their hearing babies to sign. Actually , there are. They are frustrated that, as their children get older, they prefer to use sign language rather than vocalize. For these babies, sign language is their first form of communication. Speech therapists are often hired to encourage “speaking” and report that speech becomes more prominent as these children socialize with others their age.

Additional information from this research is available at:

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About Evelyn

Evelyn Hunter is a SODA with years of experiential study in Deaf Culture. She attended Gallaudet University to immerse herself in this unique deaf world while working for the University and studying sign language to hone her skills. Evelyn has served in training, relationship sales, and marketing -- always seeking to expand awareness of Deaf Culture and the unique challenges the deaf face on a daily basis. The Sign Language Company has recently established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and a website with a blog, as Evelyn coordinates the marketing and outreach efforts for the agency. Her goal is to attract new clients seeking exceptional service, while maintaining optimal relationships with clients who have selected The Sign Language Company for over 20 years.

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