A secret language


My friend Emily asked how best to teach ASL to her children, who are beautiful and intelligent and thoughtful boys who happen to have the normal number of chromosomes. I suggested that she try my all-time favorites, Signing Time! by Rachel Coleman, and loaned her the first tape.

I love the Signing Time! series for many reasons: it’s a mother-owned business; the tapes/DVDs feature children of all ages and abilities modeling the signs; the method also introduces prereading skills and makes an easy transition into the PECS system, should you choose to go that way.

But my very favorite reason for teaching any child ASL is something Emily said to me: it’s like having your very own secret language, one that you can use wherever you are, wherever you go. Something you’ll always have together, to share.


10 thoughts on “A secret language

  1. I love the peas. Your blog always looks so beautiful!
    I’ve been watching Signing Time with my son Noah (3) and he’s been avidly learning an American accent from it! All the words we’ve learnt he now says American (colours, fruit, numbers and letters) but all the rest is English – it’s very disconcerting! But I guess we’re living on this side of the Atlantic now and it’s quite cute too. We watch it all the time – I like seeing how Rachel Coleman’s hair has changed! And it’s so easy to learn. A really fantastic series.
    When I was at school my friends and I learnt sign language so we could cheat at spelling tests – just one more use for this great skill!

  2. Carter started watching these tapes when he was five…I think it’s a great age. And like I mentioned, they have all ages of kids (on the regular tapes, don’t know about the baby ones, I haven’t seen them). I can’t speak highly enough about them. Kids who “won’t sign” have learned to sign from them…hope they work for you, too.

  3. We are going to have to get this! I found out about it from Tara Marie’s blog, by the way. We have not really tried signing , but Stella is 5 now and still getting frustrated by not being able to communicate everything.

    I would really like to hear about teaching kids to sign starting later.

  4. I learned ASL when I was young, because we had a neighbor who was deaf. I lost a bit of it through the years, but when I lived in NYC as a young woman, I saw a couple who performed at a piano bar where one sang and played the piano and the other signed the song….it was so beautiful. At that point, I realized I wanted to re-learn ASL.

    Emma Sage started with sign, but picked up the spoke word quickly, but I have made sure she keeps on signing, as I want her to have the secret language to share with her friends through the years, that rely on ASL for their main form of language.

    We got to see Rachel in Harrisburg at a Signing Time event…it was so much fun!

    If you get the chance to see her, you should [but make sure you bring tissues, as she talks about her daughters and I was like a fountain that had sprung a leak!]

  5. I think my husband has a not-so-secret crush on the Signing Times lady. So do half the dads in our local Down syndrome society.

    We love signs for their ‘secret’ aspect too. We can sign to one another without making a sound. The peacefulness of it is welcome in a chaotic house.

    Aaron has found one challenge with using signs: it is difficult to do when one’s hands are full. He’s often carrying around numerous trucks in his arms and tucked underneath his chin. If he’s trying to sign something, he puts all his treasures on the ground, signs, and then patiently picks them all up again and continues on his way.

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