Thursday, February 20, 2014

At the Chimp Stage

I’d say that Z, my granddaughter, is in the chimpanzee stage of walking.  She can do it on her own, but walking on her knees is still much faster and more certain.

Chimp Image from Konrad Wohte

At 13 months, she still doesn’t say much - “Row, Row” (as in "your boat"), “Bye,” “no” and a word that sounds identical when she points to her nose.  And 'papa.'  “Uh oh” when something falls. 


But more interesting to me, is that her mom has been teaching her sign language and she signs for hat (as in put on my hat), apple, and milk.  She repeats hat over and over again, and she gives me that hat to put on her head, then she takes it off and starts all over again.  But it’s not nearly as annoying as it might be if she kept repeating 'hat' out loud. She also knows more.

The links take you to  

I found what looks like a pop psychology website that touts the benefits of signing with your baby.  Nothing wrong with it, but more opinion, less evidence. 

I also found a report on research that found signing did not speed up when babies talk.  But, it did quote Dr. Liz Kirk:
"Although babies learnt the gestures and used them to communicate long before they started talking, they did not learn the associated words any quicker than the non-gesturing babies, nor did they did they show enhanced language development."
However, of significant interest, the study's findings did reveal that mothers who gestured with their babies were more responsive to their babies' non-verbal clues and encouraged them to think of their baby as an individual with a mind. This has great potential in clinical situations where early gestures from babies or young children may provide timely interventions where there is risk of language delay or impairment."
This was a study of only 40 mothers and babies.  It makes sense that babies wouldn't learn to speak faster - they are learning two languages after all, and the sign language probably reduces the need to speak.  And I don't think the study looked at long term benefits.

I'd heard that sign language can be helpful working with autistic kids and found a brief overview on that. 

Z and I also spent a solid hour together one morning putting some furniture together -  opening the box, unpacking the pieces, putting trash back into the box, etc.  She was totally involved including putting tiny washers onto the bolts.  Even though it took her six or seven times, when she dropped the washer, she’d say “Uh oh” and look around until she found it and try again.

These encounters with Z are too short, but she does seem to recognize us as people she knows and there's little warming up time needed before her mom can leave her with us with no fuss.   Now we're back in LA. 

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