Clear Communication: Signing and Its Implications for Children with Special Needs.
Hyder, Katherine E.
- It has been generally accepted that children with verbal language delays in early childhood are often at risk for difficulties in social and emotional domains. In an attempt to lessen the potential long-term impact of these early delays, broad-ranging accommodations and supports have been developed and integrated with varying degrees of success. Although there has been some research into the poten... read moretial benefits of using sign as a supplementary language support, it is extremely limited. This study sought to explore the possible developmental implications of the use of sign with children with special needs who were already using sign as a means of support. Children identified as using sign were observed in both classroom and camp settings, and the contexts, situations and nature of their uses of sign were recorded. In order to obtain a more complete understanding of the nuanced and complex functions of signing within these contexts, many of the students' parents and teachers participated in semi-structured interviews, describing their experiences with sign and the ways in which the use of sign took shape in the classroom or home. The results of these observations and interviews suggest that the use of sign as a supplementary language support has implications for the emotional development and the development of self-regulation in the children taking advantage of these accommodations. Although the incorporation of sign in addition to more typical verbal language supports requires sustained adult effort for its successful integration, this investment seems to help provide a sense of trust and security between the child and caregiver. Trust and security seem to help initiate and promote increased communication, socialization and overall adaptation for these children.read less