When Liam was a baby we used sign language with him. It wasn't extensive and he really only had a few signs - more, please, thank you, etc - but I always liked that he had that way of communicating with us even if he couldn't form the actual words. I had wanted to use more signs with him but we just never really extended it beyond the basics.
When Jamie came along I wanted to do the same thing with him - but go beyond the basics. However, the fact that I had an active 4 year old at the time really put the kibosh on even getting started on the basics. With his speech delay, I've regretted that we didn't do it and make it stick. Life would be so much less frustrating for Jamie if he could talk to us. But, given that he's two, I thought we had passed the window of using signs with him.
When we met with the speech therapist, one of the things she mentioned was the possibility of signing with Jamie to help ease his frustration and anger and bridge the communication gap we have with him while we work on getting him to use speech. It might seem counterintuitive but research shows that sign language actually helps open a child's language center and jumpstart their communication skills. She did say that some people were against doing it because they just want their kid to talk but I'm not one of those people - especially not when I'm dealing with Jamie's innate temperament.
But our full assessment with the therapists is still another 2 weeks away. I cannot express to you how tired I am of dealing with a kid who has the patience of your average two year old (ie: NONE) and can't communicate. So, I started using some signs with Jamie. (side note: I've got to go look up some signs!) Obviously, he wasn't picking it up the second I did them but I expected that and just kept using the signs in the appropriate circumstances.
Tonight he signed back for the first time.
He was eating dinner and I asked him if he wanted more of what he was eating (mac n cheese). I signed 'more' when I said it (like I've been doing lately). He put down his fork and did his level best to make his hands and fingers do what mine did. He wasn't exact but it was clear he was making the sign for 'more.' When he realized I was understanding him he was happy and excited and said 'more' and pointed at his pears. He wanted more pears!
This is huge. HUGE. I've never been able to get more than a grunt or shriek accompanied by an imperious pointing of his finger in the general direction his desire. Now he's starting to get it. So, now I'm going to be signing a lot more. Please, thank you, and milk are next up on the docket.
I keep seeing glimmers of an awakening of language in him. It's coming to him very slowly but it's starting to pick up momentum now. I'm hoping that when we start speech therapy on a regular basis it will be the push we need to get the ball trundling merrily along.