Joseph has received many stories from parents since he pioneered baby sign language. Here are just a few. Add your own story below!
One fantastic thing about using sign language with your baby is that you become more articulate when you are communicating with her. In combining the word with the sign, I became more conscious of how I was speaking to Clare. When I said ‘diaper,’ I would repeat ‘diaper, diaper, diaper,’ over and over again, as slowly and as precisely as I could, using lots of eye contact, making sure that she was observing the sign. I would also exaggerate my facial expressions. Clare speaks very well now. I think showing her how to sign definitely helped!
Baby-signing dad Thomas
I gave my 7 yr. old granddaughter Dr. Joseph’s Fingerspelling Book and was thrilled to see her sit totally engaged in learning the alphabet and words with her fingers. She couldn’t wait to take the book to school to show her teacher. She also decided it was her job to teach her 3 yr. old sister the alphabet! Thank you, Dr. Joseph!Grandma Lori
We don’t have any horror stories of pacing the floor at 3 a.m. with a red-cheeked screaming infant. From an early age, Meadow learned the signs for MEDICINE and TEETH, and soon learned that if she signed both, the teething gel was quickly applied to her gums. At the first sign of pain she would sign for her medicine. We would apply it, and then never had to contend with the screams. As she learned more signs, her frustration levels dropped dramatically.Baby-signing mom Gill
The kindergarten class at Loving Space got one of my Fingerspelling Books and began using it right away. The teachers called me and said they are seeing the children play with (practicing) their fingerspelling during recess. “I have never seen our kids practicing their spelling during play time until they began fingerspelling. What a wonderful way to introduce words, spelling, and reading to young children. Thank you Dr. Joseph for your creative and enlightening work!” Loving Space Kindergarten, Bellingham, WA
I kept a parenting journal as I raised my two children, Tim and Max. The youngest, Max, received the benefit of sign language whereas Tim did not. I was astounded at the difference between Tim and Max during their second year of life, mainly in the area of tantrums and confrontations. I recorded a range of twelve to fifteen confrontations a day with Tim, and only six to eight with Max.
There was also a difference in the duration of each confrontation. Each confrontation lasted half as long when I used sign language with Max. Using signs to specify objects and feelings seemed to resolve situations more quickly. This extra time was put to good use in other activities and helped me to be far more engaging with Max.
Baby-signing mom Tina
When we were in South Africa in April this year, my mother in law looked after my kids for a week. My daughter Kiara is 5 years old and Kagan was approximately 15 months at the time. It was the first time that Kagan was away from me for more than a day. Kagan was brilliant, signing with his granny every time his diaper needed a change. Kiara was able to interpret the rest of the signs to her granny, which made caring for him easy.
Baby-signing mom Pamela
I’d been signing with my son, Sam, for four months, and by 11 months of age he still hadn’t used a sign himself. I was beginning to feel despondent, so I went to see my baby-signing group leader to see if she could help. As soon as I arrived, I dived into my handbag to give Sam his drink. My teacher stopped me and suggested that I leave the drink in his sight-line, but slightly out of reach. Within a minute Sam made his first sign for DRINK. All it had taken was a few seconds to motivate him into action. The pair of us were in tears, dancing round the room and hugging Sam. I got on the phone straight away to tell Daddy and grandparents. Later that day I was tickling Sam and, lo and behold, every time I stopped, he signed MORE. From that day on there was no stopping him! Signs began to pour out of him. He had been absorbing all the signs I was using but just didn’t begin expressing himself until he was ready. Once the floodgate was opened, he was on his way.
Baby-signing mom Sara
Maria feels that signing has given her an incredibly special bond with her baby Tamara, now 18 months. Tamara has a vocabulary of 40 signs and she is starting to form three-word sentences. Through signing she’s also been able to display her sense of humor from the tender age of 12 months. For example, she looks through a book and signs all the correct signs for the animals. Then, all of a sudden, she chooses a well-known picture like a cat and deliberately signs DOG, then laughs and shakes her head. It’s as though she wants to make sure I am paying attention!
Baby-signing mom Maria
At the age of 13 months Isabella was using 35 signs to communicate with us. She could initiate conversations, sing whole nursery rhymes with her hands, and even crack jokes! One event that illustrate’s how bright she was happened when we were out shopping one day. We were standing at the delicatessen of a big store, when Isabella started signing RABBIT while staring at the assistant behind the counter. I looked at her, confused, but she continued to sign RABBIT more and more vehemently. I glanced back at the assistant and noticed his mouth. Out of it protruded two of the most enormous bunny teeth you have ever seen! It was a very funny moment. I was amazed at her ability to make such an insightful comparison at such a young age.
Emma of Babysigners
When our baby was eight months old, she used to clap her hands together a lot. My husband and I thought that she was just very happy! Then one day a friend of ours who we had met at a baby-signing workshop noticed Klaudia’s clapping and told us that Klaudia was actually making the sign for MORE! She explained that her son Daniel had been unable to form the MORE hand-shape and so had clapped, until his dexterity had matured to the point of correctly forming the sign. Realizing that Klaudia had been attempting to sign all of this time, we began noticing that she was also making other signs that we had seen as random gestures. However, by observing the context in which she was using the signs, we were able to identify several of the signs that she had so bravely been attempting!
Baby-signing mom Anna
After weeks of trying the more basic signs of MILK and EAT, which Flora was showing no sign of copying, she decided that her first sign would be FINISHED. I almost danced the first time I saw it. I couldn’t believe it! I sent e-mails to the entire family. Amazingly, she did the sign perfectly from the start—so my many repetitions of it, after each meal, had obviously paid off. She looked as pleased as pie when she did it. As pleased as she’d looked when she walked for the first time. Before long she’d acquired a vocabulary of more than 50 signs.
Baby-signing mom Lucy
I remember an incident when Joshua was being bullied at school. Although the teacher dealt with the event immediately, Joshua was understandably reluctant to go to childcare the next day. Leaving him in the nursery was heart breaking. The look on his face was so sad, and it took all my willpower not to go in and take him home with me. His eyes were still searching for mine as I left the classroom. As I walked past the window, I simply signed I LOVE YOU to him. None of his friends knew what I’d said, so it didn’t embarrass him, and the corners of his mouth twitched into a brave smile.
Baby-signing mom Wendy
When Ziggy was two, I started using the TOILET sign with him and knew that when he needed to go, he would let me know. Occasionally, I would use the sign for TOILET and he would sign NO. About two months later, he came up to me and signed TOILET and that was it! From that day on, he just let me know whenever he needed to go, and rarely had an accident. He was just 26 months old!
Baby-signing dad Sean
When Mattie is watching television and an animal appears, I make a sign for that animal. Each time a new animal comes on, she turns to me, to give her the sign. It’s our little game. She’s learned many signs this way. We sometimes make up a sign that mimics the animal’s shape or movement. Then when we come across the same animal in a book, we both make the sign and laugh.
Baby-signing mom Sally
My daughter Imogen was looking out of the window, watching the birds on the feeder, when a squirrel ran up the feeder. She became very excited, and attempted to tell us what was happening. She started signing BIRD, but seemed to know that that wasn’t the right sign for the squirrel, so she stopped to think for a moment. A few seconds later, she exuberantly signed BIRD and growled at the same time. It was so cute, and more importantly, she got the message across to her mom and me by modifying and adapting what she already knew to a totally new situation. Signing has shown us the extent to which a child thinks and analyzes her world before she can speak. What’s more, it shows us how creative and imaginative she is!
Baby-signing dad Stephen
We didn’t have a sign for spaghetti, so Poppy decided to use the sign for WORMS instead, to tell us what she wanted for lunch!
Baby-signing mom Sylvia