Your deaf child can have it all! The NAD along with many national organizations and universities are here to support deaf children in receiving this gift.
Did you know that the first few years of life are the easiest time to learn a language? This time period is called the Window of Opportunity for language development. Since young children are able to pick up language so quickly and easily, it is vital that Deaf children have access to a visual language as early as possible.
After the age of 5, if a child has not had proper access to a language, they may never be able to become fully fluent. A lack of language can also cause problems with critical thinking skills.
Fast facts about language:
- Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic Interdependence and the Educational Development of Bilingual Children. Review of Educational Research, 49(2), 222-251.
- Early Start on Signing Vital For Deaf Children. Rosie Mestel – https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14519661-400-early-start-on-signing-vital-for-deaf-children/
- Humphries, T., Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G. et al. Language acquisition for deaf children: Reducing the harms of zero tolerance to the use of alternative approaches. Harm Reduct J 9, 16 (2012).
- Kushalnagar, P., Mathur, G., Moreland, C. J., Napoli, D. J., Osterling, W., Padden, C., & Rathmann, C. (2010). Infants and children with hearing loss need early language access. The Journal of clinical ethics, 21(2), 143–154.
- Malloy, T. V. (2003, July). Sign language use for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Hearing babies: The evidence supports it. American Society for Deaf children.
The Benefits of Bilingualism: Impacts on Language and Cognitive Development:
Bilingualism can be briefly defined as someone who regularly uses two languages. According to researcher Franḉois Grosjean (who studies American Sign Language cognitive processing), bilingualism is the norm throughout most of the world. The proficiency levels between the two languages can vary throughout someone’s lifetime based on how much they use the language.
Many Deaf people are fluent in a signed language as well as a spoken or written form of a spoken language; because of this, it is probable that bilingualism is more common with Deaf individuals than hearing individuals. Proficiency in the two languages depends on the level of proficiency needed for the context (for example, is the language used solely at home or solely at school? This will result in different vocabulary). Proficiency will also depend on when the language was acquired.
Learning two languages is a very natural process for children, and it does not result in or cause cognitive or linguistic delays. A child learning two languages is able to achieve all the same milestones as a child who is learning only one language – everything from babbling to acquiring grammatical structures. This includes children who are learning American Sign Language (ASL) and English.
The most obvious benefit of being bilingual is the ability to communicate in two languages. It is beneficial to learn these two languages as early as possible in your life. Vocabulary is acquired easier and more quickly in both languages for people who are bilingual. In addition, managing two languages has cognitive benefits such as a better ability to pay attention, better control of impulses, better conflict resolution skills, and increased working memory.
Deaf children can greatly benefit from going to a bilingual school because if they have high proficiency in ASL, they may also have high proficiency in English and improved academic achievement. By exposing Deaf children to ASL, they are able to develop skills such as critical thinking and complex reasoning which can help their second language literacy development.
It is beneficial to use ASL when your Deaf child is present, not only when you are directly communicating with them. This means exposure to different types of conversations such as arguments, small talk, and communication between different age groups. Using English with your Deaf child by reading books and translating them into ASL shows that communication can be in both languages and helps them to understand how both languages work.
As a positive ASL role model, a Deaf babysitter can be a wonderful addition to your child’s language acquisition plan. The babysitter will bring to your home a rich ASL environment that includes but is not limited to storytelling, fun activities, turn-taking conversation, and so forth on.
By helping them to learn how to interact in ASL, the babysitter will help your child and their siblings to develop confidence in their language skills. It is imperative that parents seek out qualified ASL babysitters who will truly enhance their children’s ASL and literacy skills. This will result in more effective and enjoyable family communication.
A Deaf child who is exposed to the language-rich environment provided by their ASL babysitter will develop a better understanding of storytelling features, including phonology, and syllable awareness. The child will be able to observe natural language use by a fluent ASL user (who may also be closer in age to them than an adult).
ASL babysitters will make great language models for your Deaf child and their siblings.
This research-based webcast by Deborah Pichler, PhD, addresses how deaf and hard of hearing babies acquire language and why one should sign with babies as early as possible.
Adam Stone explains that no matter what language a child is learning, be it spoken or signed, they will make mistakes. Here, Adam goes into detail about three common mistakes children make while learning a signed language, and rest assured, these are all part of the normal language acquisition process.
With a partnership between the California Department of Education’s Julie Rems Smario and CDERC’s Natasha Kordus and Jennifer Willey, they worked on this poster for 2019 EHDI Conference in Chicago, IL. This poster earned the top honors!
A LEAD-K and Nyle DiMarco production created by Convo.
There are many misconceptions about how a Deaf child acquires language. We’ve seen many of them: sign language hinders your child’s ability to learn English; parents must be fluent in sign language in order to teach their Deaf child. What’s the truth? Five common myths about your Deaf child, resolved.