Baby Sign Language

March 6, 2012

Baby sign language is a great way to encourage language before your baby is able to vocally produce words. It allows a baby to communicate what he wants, or what is on his mind. Being able to use the hand gestures of baby sign dramatically reduces frustration that may occur on both the baby’s and parent’s side.

Here are a couple steps to remember when beginning to teach your child this fun and functional mean of communication:

1) Start with just a few signs: Choose a couple signs that will be the most useful in everyday life. For example “eat”, “more”, “all done”, “milk”, “open”.  Slowly build up to more.

2) Make sure you always use the sign and word together: Being able to hear the word along with the sign helps your baby remember it and make that connection.

3) Point to objects: If you are signing the name of an object, point to the object while saying the word and then signing the sign.

4) Repeat, Repeat: First make sure your baby is watching and then sign the word while saying the word a couple of times.

5) Assist your baby: it is okay to guide your baby’s hands if needed. Remember it is okay if the sign is not perfect! A baby’s fine motor skills are not as developed as adults.

6) Be patient: It will take time for your baby to master a sign. Remember the younger they are, the longer it will take

7) Use signs during all everyday activities and have fun!

Here is a wonderful website that has videos of people demonstrating common baby signs. You will find a dictionary of basic words to choose from: http://www.babysignlanguage.com

-Belen Macias, MS, CCC-SLP

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Social Groups for Older Individuals

February 28, 2012

According to Worrell & Hickson (1991), “there will be an increasing number of older population requiring audiology and speech-language pathology services, and the majority of these clients will be living alone.” Effects of normal aging include age-related impairments of the auditory and vocal systems, word retrieval impairments, language comprehension (including a decrease in literacy skills), and conversational discourse skills. Rave & Kahn (1998) define successful aging as “maintaining physical health, avoiding disease, sustaining good cognitive function, and having engagement with other people and productive activities.” Activities such as socializing helps senior citizens feel competent and improves their self-esteem. Social networks include neighbors, family, and volunteer or social organizations. According to Kastenbaum (1987) a prevention activity is a form of environmental modification to reduce levels of loneliness and to increase social usefulness, while at the same time providing help to maintain and improve older adult coping abilities. Prevention activities can be group therapy that is community centered, or family centered. Communicative benefits of group therapy include: appropriate topic maintenance, rate of speech, number of words per utterance, pitch, and vocal quality. Cognitive benefits of group therapy include psychological support, generalization of communication skills, aiding individuals to cope with feelings of loneliness, depression, and hopelessness as well as increase their sense of worth and belonging (Zarit & Zarit, 2002).  Adult social groups for aging individuals allows for preventative care in a functional and peer-supportive setting.

-Sarah Peters, MA, CF-SLP