In an ever-changing economy, it is important to maintain adaptability in order to make the most of the opportunities afforded to every individual. Being able to be communicate in many forms and varieties will enable individuals to maintain a higher standard of living in a time when opportunities may be limited. Those that are bilingual give themselves an exceptional advantage in communication. This is never more true than when learning how to communicate non-verbally to help the disabled, most commonly the deaf.
Those fluent in American Sign Language are becoming more rare, and opportunities for qualified interpreters are growing. As trends continue, ASL interpreters will be in short supply, and employment in such a field will become easier to secure.
Starting Sign Language Early
Research has shown that children from the ages of two to five are learning new skills quickly. This is the time that spoken language is instituted and when second languages should be introduced for the best results. This time of growth in communication and language is also an excellent time to introduce signing. Signing is more common than we often consider. Indigenous peoples like the American Indian nations often communicate with other tribes using sign language, as they do not have a shared common language. Researchers believe that Neanderthals relied on hand gestures when communicating with each other, as they may not have had the vocal ability to produce words. Sign language may even come as second nature for those who cannot speak to each other.
It may be even more instinctual than we first considered. A 2003 research article in the Boulder Daily Camera discusses the idea that babies as young as six months use their hands to converse with their caretakers or with other children. The article goes on to explain that by eight months, babies are able to remember signs, imitate gestures, and sign single words. With continued exposure to sign language, children at 24 months old can sign full sentences. It also helps to reduce the frustration that children may feel when they are unable to express themselves, giving them an outlet for their needs and desires before they can talk.
The author of the article also explains that in a study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, younger children that learn sign language early in their lives will have a better grasp of their verbal skills later in life. Parents that used sign language to communicate with their autistic children found it easier to converse with their child, they were able to reduce the child’s frustration when communicating, and they saw marked improvement in other areas, including math, vocabulary, spelling and music.
By starting early in a child’s education, sign language allows children to communicate their thoughts before they are able to verbalize them. In addition, teaching your child will strengthen the bond between parent and child and will help to forge a skill that will only help them as they get older. Teaching your child sign language before they can walk will help to build the foundation for many things to come.