SIGN LANGUAGE AND SPEECH THERAPY
From what I have seen and heard, parents of children with speech and language disabilities are hesitant when it comes to their child learning sign language. Individuals have a common misconception that if their child uses sign language they will become too comfortable signing and will not “make the effort” to use spoken language. When we hear people talk about “sign language”, we automatically think of an individual who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, but it should be about the language (a very visual and beautiful language)!
Although sign language is the main form of communication in the Deaf community, it has shown to be a great tool for all children, whether they are typically developing or if they have speech and language difficulties. This alternative form of communication will not prevent speech, but reinforce and improve oral language skills by eliminating the child’s frustration when trying to express themselves.
I have met many parents who have told me their child becomes frustrated and even aggressive when they don’t understand what their child wants or needs. Of course! We would all feel very isolated and angry if everything we wanted to say went untold. So why not work with every possible avenue available to communicate?
All parents want to be able to communicate with their children and trust me, the kids do too! So why not use a form of communication that will allow this? Could it still be considered a stigma? As a speech professional and a mother, my personal view is that I would want my child to communicate in the most comfortable and effective way possible to make day-to-day life more enjoyable!
It can be difficult to find a speech language professional who has the fluency in sign language needed to help bridge the gap in communication. But, services are available. They can be highly effective and make an impactful difference for the entire family!
-Christina, SLPA & ASL expert