One day, many of you will be fluent signers. If you have a very young child, perhaps you have already begun using a few signs as tools for communicating and learning, for socializing and playing. If your child is old enough to know how to sign but struggles with speech to communicate with you, perhaps you want to move closer to the child by learning an alternative form of communication. Even if your deaf child is a successful speechreader and doesn't sign at school, perhaps you have heard that many deaf adults who were educated in the oral method learn to sign as teenagers. You and your older child may now want to learn, too.
Tools have a purpose in our lives. Signing, as a tool, helps us to communicate with our children. Through signing you will be able to explain clearly about family traditions, your religious beliefs, why your pet had to be put to sleep, and why Mom and Dad need their sleep on Saturday morning!
Signing also leads to a command of language, and for many profoundly deaf children it does so a lot more effectively than speech. However, it takes time to learn to sign, and signing, in and of itself, does not guarantee that your child will succeed in school. When you learn to sign you must not forget about being a parent and doing all of the other things that will help your child to learn.
Signing does allow you to tell your deaf son to go brush his teeth. But it doesn't mean that he will. With signs, you can clearly and eloquently explain nuclear fusion to your deaf daughter, but that doesn't mean she will understand it. A deaf child's intelligence and need for love cannot be nursed on signing alone. Parenting is a complicated task, no matter what mode of communication you use.
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