The Baby Signs Movement

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Jacquelyn Gussow
K. Reavey
ENG 101
23 April 2012

The Baby Signs Movement
In 1982, Drs. Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn discovered that babies between the ages of 10 and 24 months were spontaneously using simple gestures to represent words they weren't yet able to say. They might sniff for "flower," pant for "dog," or flap their arms for "bird." What would happen, Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn wondered, if parents just helped the process along? Thus began a major breakthrough in infant-parent communication called the Baby Signs Program--a natural baby sign language that allows babies and their parents to use simple signs to communicate important things like being hungry or thirsty, hot or cold, afraid or sad-often a full year before babies could otherwise speak. Through two decades of research, much of it funded by the National Institute of Health, Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn have demonstrated that their Baby Signs Program has dramatic benefits, including decreasing frustration for babies and parents, enriching the parent-child bond, boosting emotional development, helping babies talk sooner, and even raising IQ. There are two main ways to approach the process. Some parents decide to use their own signs or adopt the simple signs found in the Baby Signs Dictionary© while others decide to take and all ASL1 approach in hopes of having a bi-lingual child. Either way, being able to communicate with your baby before your baby can actually speak to you can be a highly enriching and beneficial experience with results extending for years to come. During my first pregnancy, I picked up their book, Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby before Your Baby Can Talk. It was then that I became fascinated by this movement that I learned had started in Dr. Linda’s living room with her twelve-month old daughter. The book enthusiastically spoke about the advantages of increased communication, decreased frustration, and an enriching parent-infant bond. “Signing alleviates...
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