Saturday, September 19, 2015

Can Signing Smart Benefit My Child on the Autism Spectrum?

In a word, YES!

I've already shared 7 reasons why everyone needs Signing Smart.  Over the past two years, many have asked about using the Signing Smart programs with children on the autism spectrum.  My answer has always been that I didn't have the research to back me up, but what I knew about each of those subjects would lead me to believe that using American Sign Language with children on the autism spectrum who are struggling with communication would provide a great benefit.  Recently, I have had the opportunity to do a bit of research on this topic, and I'm happy to say that, not only were our gut reactions correct, I now have some research to support that!

In may ways, though, the findings I will share with you apply not only to children on the autism spectrum.  Children with a delay in language for any reason can absolutely benefit from using American Sign Language and the tools and strategies offered by Signing Smart - even after the age of 2. 

Many children who fall into this group may be labeled "non-verbal," however, they are far from silent!  While unable to communicate successfully, a child may still be able to produce consonant and vowel sounds or even syllables consisting of multiple letter sounds. (Kauffman, N., Shaping Verbal Language for Children on the Spectrum of Autism Who Also Exhibit Apraxia of Speech)  Using American Sign Language via Signing Smart's techniques as a means of early communication and language exposure while simultaneously working on other speech development activities could lead to astounding results!

Just like with hearing infants and toddlers, research has found that American Sign Language can actually speed the acquisition of spoken language. Also, just like hearing infants and toddlers, the successful communication afforded by ASL can help to reduce frustration and can "serve the purpose of functionally replacing other disruptive behaviors such as aggression, self-injurious behavior, and tantrumming" (Helwig, C. Autism and ASL) 

Other researchers have found that using American Sign Language  also provides additional benefits to children on the autism spectrum. One such area might be improved attentiveness to social gestures both those being used by the child as well as interpreting those seen from others. (Edleson, S., Signed Speech or Simultaneous Communication) Other benefits relate to the manual nature of ASL and the idea that parents/caregivers/teachers can physically help the child form a sign as part of the learning process, unlike spoken language.  Because of this, children with a wide variety of functional abilities can successfully use sign language as part of their communication.

Whether your goals are focused on developing spoken language or an alternative means of communication, American Sign Language and the Signing Smart tools and strategies can help you get there!

Ready to get started?  Contact me to arrange your private, small or large group class!

Here are the resources that helped me write this post:
Edelson, S. (n.d.). Signed Speech or Simultaneous Communication. from

Helwig, C. (2008) Autism and ASL from

Kauffman, N. (n.d.) Shaping Verbal Language for Children on the Spectrum of Autism Who Also Exhibit Apraxia of Speech  from

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mommy Moments #164

I'm so honored to be guest hosting Mommy Moments this week.  I always enjoy finding posts that apply to my life as mom as well as teacher and blogger.  I hope you find some new inspiration here today, too!
Welcome to Mommy Moments! We hope you all had a week filled with wonderful memories!  I have enjoyed getting to know all the new mamas linking up and sharing their lives with us! I can't wait to hear more from you all again this week! 
Motherhood has its seriousness and frustration as well as its laughs. That's why we are here. Life is much easier when traveled with companions! So mamas, let's join together in the spirit of motherhood and share our moments together. We want to hear the happy, sad, tough, terrible, hilarious moments that make being a mother the best job in the world!

The top viewed link this week belongs to our very own Heather from Arrows and Warriors and her post Choosing Joy in the Small Things. What a great reminder that the little things we do as moms, wives, friends, homemakers, or businesswomen, really do matter! This post had some great perspective and was a much needed reminder to us all to choose joy!


Post can include anything related to mommy-hood, children, homemaking, pregnancy etc. If you aren't a mom yet, feel free to link up your preparation for motherhood, your journey as you try to conceive, or even a post that would be encouraging to the other moms in the party!

Then, explore some of the other posts in the link-up and say hello to some new blog friends! 

Please, pretty please, we'd love it if you would tweet or share the link up on Facebook so we can all make even more friends!
We would also love it if you could add the Mommy Moments button to your post or blog so everyone knows where you are linking up! If you are not able to copy/paste the code on your page, please e-mail one of us and we would be happy to send you the code!

P.S. We will be having a new guest host every week! Want to be a guest host of the Mommy Moments Blog Hop? Send Faith a message at farmprincess14{at}gmail{dot}com. We would love to have you!
Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
Colossians 3:17 
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Remarkable Discoveries: Lessons Found at the Playground

My two sons are always on the go!  Whether it's skipping rocks, making silly faces in the car, or testing out bubble recipes in the driveway, these two little boys are always happiest when they're doing something active.

Even after a full day of "school" where they play and learn and move almost constantly, they aren't done.  Every afternoon on the way home, my boys ask to stop at one of our local playgrounds. Most days, we're happy to grant their wishes.  It's a great way for them to burn off some energy before dinner and wind-down time; it's a great way for us to spend some time together, and it's a great way to sneak a few more lessons into the day.

Learning through play is what their little bodies were made to do, so that's what we do!

Playground Lessons title picture

Everyday Lessons

3 year old climbing fake trees at the playgroundThere's problem solving:  I want to climb up and over this rope net, but I can't reach to go the most obvious way.  Is there another way I can go? I want to get to the top of this pretend tree, how do I get there?

There's team work, turn-taking and sharing:  We both want to play on this piece of playground equipment, how can we both feel happy?  I can't turn the merry-go-around by myself, but if two or three of us work together, it will turn.  You can ride for a while, then we'll switch.  Let's play tag!

1 year old boy sliding down a twisty slideThere are endless opportunities for signs to be used:  HELP, MORE, ALL-DONE, SIT, SWING, and SLIDE are part of every trip.  Sometimes we talk about colors or counting. Occasionally, we have to use GENTLE and I'M-SORRY, too.

Occasional Bonus Lessons

It doesn't happen during every trip, but every now and again, we get the chance to build on science lessons the boys have encountered though school. Our daycare has a visit each week from a *fabulous* teacher who focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) topics. It's always great when we can make connections between her lessons and our lives!

Sometimes we see local wildlife like geese or bunny rabbits or birds. Then we can talk about what they are, what they're doing, what they like to eat, where they live, etc.

One of our favorite playgrounds has a fishing pond.  Both boys enjoy wandering along the edge and out onto the dock (under very close supervision!) where they can see fish in the water, algae on top, and lots of empty snail shells stuck in  the muddy bank.  

Every once in a while, we discover something even more exciting.  On one recent trip we saw an empty SNAKE skin floating on the pond.  Daddy reached it out with a stick and the boys got to examine it. 
exploring a snake skin dangling from a stick while sitting on the dock

looking at a snake skin on the dock next to the pond

Daddy added to their observations by pointing out where the eyes were, explaining how the snake had grown and shed its skin, and reassuring a nervous preschooler that it was definitely NOT a live snake. (All the same, I was perfectly happy to stand apart from the group to take pictures!

Mr. L. signs snake while Mr. I explores snake skin on the dock
SNAKE - Mr. L. at 30 months
Daddy signs SNAKE while Mr. I. watches next to the pond

A simple trip to the play ground is always fun for two growing little boys. Mommy and daddy know it's not really as simple as it seems though; there's much learning to be done amidst that fun play time!

What are your favorite playground activities?  Leave a comment, so we can discover some new fun ways to enjoy our trips!