Sign Language Before Speech
"I wanted to communicate with Jack to be able to express his needs earlier than he could talk," she said.
The Burtons are part of a five-week sign language class with other parents, infants and toddlers at Columbia's Kindermusik program.
"Even if a child's not signing back, the parent's still signing with them," said Katie Burton. "They can understand the signs just as well as they can the language."
Burton's son Jack has normal hearing. He can't say anything, but he can already sign two words.
"With a couple of the signs, he'll say, you know, 'I want food' or 'I want more.'"
Kindermusik teacher Brenda Haynes added, "Research shows that children who are signed with, speak sooner and with more words than children who are not signed with."
The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior reported children with normal hearing, who use sign language before they can speak, score better on language tests. An Ohio State University study said baby signers show less aggressive behavior as they get older.