I met with a friend, Christian, the other day at his house for Easter. There I met his wife, brother, brother's wife, and his two adorable little girls Brooklyn (3 y/o) and Remy (13 mos.). They were like most all little girls, talkative, excited by new company and wanting to engage me in every aspect. Both know American Sign Language, bits and pieces, and they are fully hearing.
Amy, their mother, started teaching Brooklyn ASL when she was 6 months old and benefited quickly after. She used signing aids such as Baby Einstein Movies and books to teach Brooklyn the basics such as 'eat', 'more', 'no more', 'hat' and 'milk'. Brooklyn could successfully communicate basic ideas and thoughts to her parents at 11 months old before she could do so verbally. This isn't because speaking is harder than sign language, but because the vocal chords are not fully developed yet; another reason why sign language is beneficial as a platform for communication.
When Remy was born, ASL was immediately implemented.At 13 months old, Remy can tell her parents she is hungry, whether she wants more soup and baby (this is perhaps the most popular sign I have seen so far). Remy is now beginning to speak. What I found most exciting and interesting is that her parents talk 'up' to her. That is, instead of mimicking her baby talk and gurgling, they talk to her as though she is an adult. There are many theories for and against this. This is a common practice among Deaf parents and their children. Baby sign is not taught, ASL is.
Amy will ask Remy to help her father make soup. Upon hearing the word soup, Remy does the sign 'food' and proceeds to the kitchen (she only started walking in February) to help her father. It is amazing how much children at that age understand us. Because of Amy and Christians parenting, it is evident that their daughters have no issue communicating wants and needs and as a result are more independent.
Second bit of information which is crucial to my product development is Brooklyn. Current research shows that Children learn language best before the age of 5. When a younger sibling is born Deaf and sign language is used as a means of communication, the older siblings are often the first to pick it up the fastest and use it most fluidly. One reason for this is an older siblings feeling towards responsibility and their perceived role as the older sister or brother as well as a mentor.
Popular games children play are teacher, and other 'adult' role playing games. What I found from Brooklyn and heard from her parents is that she enjoys learning sign on the videos and encourages her little sister to learn as well. Brooklyn is not only excited because she is learning another language but that she is an integral part of her sister's learning as well. What I hope to work into my thesis at one point is the level of involvement and interaction siblings have between one another when it comes to learning; in this case ASL.
An affective spin and promotion for BOUNCE is it's level of interaction for all members of the family, and how ASL can be used to effectively establish communication and break down like barriers.