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November 7, 2002

Local Babies Learn Sign Language

Nov. 7, 2002

New Class For Parents Sweeps Nation

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A new class for new parents is sweeping the nation, News9 reports.

News9's Jean Mackin said that it is baby sign language. The children who learn it do not have hearing problems, they just have parents eager to communicate at a younger age.

In a baby sign language class, infants as young as 6 months and their parents learn basic vocabulary from American Sign Language.

"What better thing to do with them before they can talk? They're already doing gestures and making up their own signs so why not formalize it?" instructor Ana Gonzalez said.

"I'm taking this class because I'm hoping that she'll be able to communicate with us a really early age," mother Heather Sullivan said.

Mother Kelly Dunn admits some of her friends are skeptical, wondering if signing will keep her son, Patrick, from talking.

"Not only will it not keep them from talking, but it will enhance his vocabulary at a younger age, so I'm interested to see how it works out," Dunn said.

Some linguists have questioned whether babies are really signing, or just using normal nonverbal gestures.

A University of California study found that signing enhances language development, increases interest in books, and strengthens the bond between child and parent.

Gonzalez said that teaching a baby is as simple as giving basic signs to basic spoken words.

"They drink milk, they eat or they want more so they are the first three signs we do," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez practices what she teaches in her own home with her daughter, Autumn.

Autumn could sign "cookie" before she could say it, and her parents could understand it.

Copyright 2002 by All rights reserved.