Sign language beneficial to infants
December 24, 2008
HOST: There's no question that sign language is important for people who are deaf but there's now early research it can also be helpful in unexpected ways for children who can hear. And one school is already putting that to the test.
ADULT: (holding story book): Good job, Leo!
CHILD: (vocalizes an inarticulate word, apparently meaning: "This?", while pointing at the bear on the page)
CHILD: (happy vocalization)
ADULT: That's right!
CHILD: (vocalizes again, apparently meaning: "This?")
ALICIA ACUNA (voice over): This isn't just play time. Twice a week at Patience Montessori in Boulder, Colorado, babies on up to preschoolers, get intensive sign language classes with a teacher who is deaf.
STACY SULLIVAN (signing ASL, voice of interpreter): It's an amazing facilitator for language itself.
ALICIA ACUNA: Stacy Sullivan says, through a translator, that kids are quick studies--even better than grown ups.
STACY SULLIVAN (signing to children, voice of interpreter): Do you wanna see some more animals? (Signing "animals.")
STACY SULLIVAN (voice over continues): They pick up words every single day. They learn so quickly. They're learning capacity would surpass adults.
ALICIA ACUNA (on location, child in lap): Fans of the sign language curriculum say it leads to better communication at a younger age, and parents can better understand their children's needs before they can vocalize, things like "more" (holding baby's hands, making the sign "more.")
SARAH ROTH (woman with blond hair, menorah in background): To be able to have that luxury of understanding what they're saying, and him not frustrated, and me not frustrated, and a whole household of, you know, less frustrations. It's golden.
ALICIA ACUNA: Sarah Roth says tantrums are minimal, and it's helping her 18-month-old's manners.
SARAH ROTH: She's already learning to say "please," [and] "thank you," which [is] a mother's dream.
ALICIA ACUNA: While some question whether sign language might delay speech, Jean Bouchard says it has helped bridge the gap for her son, who has a motor speech issue.
JEAN BOUCHARD (woman wearing white turtle neck shirt): Absolutely, I believe that that is what has allowed him to be so confident, and just in there and interacting with others and feeling like he can get his needs met.
ALICIA ACUNA: His teacher hopes students will be more open to differences in the world, that children learn to co-exist with everyone.
STACY SULLIVAN (signing ASL): It's wonderful exposure for them to see the varieties of individuals and how language can come and all types...
ALICIA ACUNA: And as one parent pointed out, the smallest of children have more to say than the bigger people realize, and easier communication can be a great gift. In Denver, Alicia Acuna, Fox News.
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