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In this video, we learn about baby sign language with Huma Nasir.
Tags:What is Baby Sign Language,Baby Sign Language,communication with babies,Huma Nasir,parenting tips,simplymediatv
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Emma Howard: Do you want to strengthen the bond with your baby about being able to communicate with them before they can speak? Well, with baby sign language you can by using the Sign with Your Baby program parents can enable babies to communicate issues before they are able to express themselves verbally. With me in the studio it's Huma Nasir who has self experience fantastic results learning the Sign with Your Baby method with her young family and teaches signing in workshops in South London and she has brought along one of her students. Welcome and you put the rest of the family Reese is the result of you learning, isn't he Sigrun? And how many signs has he got now?
Sigrun Griffiths: He has got about 7 or 8 signs that he uses regularly.
Emma Howard: And then you taught your husband Paul so both of you sign with him?
Paul Griffiths: That's right.
Emma Howard: I know he is quite resistant, he has been very good, but we are going to -- oh! Is he going to sign now? That's the sign for more, isn't it?
Sigrun Griffiths: Yes, that's the sign for more.
Emma Howard: So Huma, tell us what we've got Paul happily sitting on a sofa? Tell me how does that work, how do you begin teaching your baby to sign?
Huma Nasir: Well, basically babies learn through reputation and they love to mimic adults, so basically you start off the sign with your baby programs been developed by somebody names Joseph Garcia who is one of the pioneers in baby signing. Joseph recommends that from around the age of 7 months you can start using signs with your baby. They have enough intellectual development and enough basic physical control of their hands to sort of gather what you're saying.
Emma Howard: Are we talking about sign language that's the British sign language? So the adults work with you?
Huma Nasir: Joseph's program recommends that whichever country you're in, you use the standard sign language for that country. So for example here in England we obviously use British sign language.
Emma Howard: And have you adopted it so if the baby, because some movements will be quite helpful as well?
Huma Nasir: Some of the words have been adopted for use by babies. For example, the sign for milk in British sign language is this which is quite difficult. So it's been adopted. Because the program has been developed for preverbal hearing babies and it's not geared towards deaf babies although it has been used by deaf.
Emma Howard: So how do you start? So she went along to your workshop, a two-hour workshop.
Huma Nasir: Yes, she did.
Emma Howard: And what are the basics? What do you teach first of all?
Huma Nasir: Well, basically I tell them about the background of the program and how Joseph developed it. I signed with my own daughter and I talk about my own experience which I think is invaluable, because signing is still a very, very a new concept toward in the UK and unfortunately there is a lot of negativity that surrounds it and immediately you'd be asked is your baby deaf or wouldn't it affect their speech? So I try to give people as much information so that they feel comfortable with they're doing.
Emma Howard: And how did you Sigrun, I mean people are concerned that will low speech down? How it has been you experience at all?
Sigrun Griffiths: No. Reese is bilingual. I'm Icelandic and my husband is English. So I did ask Huma about that will this confusion him or will it help, and Huma was absolutely adamant that it would help and it has. I mean we were warned that Reese would start to speak later, because he had two languages to learn, but he is not 15 months and he speaks about 10 words and then has 7 signs on top of that. So I can't say that he is ...
Emma Howard: And what are those signs he has? Because you start with three basics one is that you milk we just found out about and what are the other twos?
Huma Nasir: This sign for eat.
Emma Howard: So food, obviously.
Humar Nasir: We are mimicking eating and the sign for more.
Emma Howard: So those are the first three you start with.
Huma Nasir: They are the first three signs that you start with and you continue with go signs throughout daily routine whenever you are doing any one of those things you say the word as you normally would and you do the sign as well so the baby is making the connection between the object and the sign.
Emma Howard: And at 7 months they can make that connection, but let's just see -- can we see if Reese will respond you? Is there anything he might tell you? Oh! Milk. How has he found in a practical way -- Paul how have you found that helpful? You found it easy to learn I presume?
Paul Griffiths: Yes, absolutely. I think the joy of it is just more communication, more direct communication. We rely so much on words; that's just another way into way communicating at such an early age is just fantastic thing. It's really beautiful thing.
Emma Howard: And what about the breakthrough it? Is it bit like the first smile when you get the first sign passed? What was that like?
Paul Griffiths: Well, absolutely.
Sigrun Griffiths: I couldn't believe it.
Emma Hoard: And what was it? Was it milk?
Sigrun Griffiths: It was more.
Emma Howard: Oh! There is a surprise.
Sigrun Griffiths: I mean he clapped his hands and it took me about -- is he just clapping his hands or is he doing that sign? He wasn't doing it this way, but it was so clear he looked straight in the eye and I knew he was asking me for more and that was his first.
Huma Nasir: One interesting thing about Joseph's program is that 8 out of 10 people who have used the program will say that their baby's first sign was more out of the three and that always amazes me, because more actually a concept. With milk you see the milk, with food, you're seeing something, but you know what is more? Yup, that just goes to shoe how much intellectual development they have and sophisticated they are? We don't realize, because they can't talk to us and tell us.
Emma Howard: So you're saying start at about 7 months.
Huma Nasir: You can start from 7 months onwards.
Emma Howard: I mean it's something that has a finite time, doesn't it? Because as soon they start to speak they're just going to leave the sign language behind, don't they?
Huma Nasir: It really has a purpose for not even a year.
Huma Nasir: Yeah, it's generally people say around 10 months, but signing does actually encourage children to talk. All the research has been done.
Emma Howard: How does that work? And why would it encourage them to talk?
Huma Nasir: Well, you find -- I don't know how found this Sigrun, but I found that when I was signing I was talking to Hannah a lot more, because you're looking in the eye, eye to eye contact.
Emma Howard: So you're teaching them communication as it great way of getting attention. They would want to follow through.
Huma Nasir: When people always ask me doesn't it affect their speech, I'll say well, yes it does it actually encourages spoken language, but with regards to the reaction you would get mostly is well why will they bother to learn to talk if they can communicate using signs. But the signing takes effort and I always say it's like a baby crawling. I mean when they know how to crawl that's all they do, one minute they master how to walk...
Emma Howard: They don't get back to crawling. So it is the same concept. Let's try and entertain Reese little bit more by getting him to entertain us. Reese can we see if you'll do some more signing for us? He wants it, he wants the milk. Of course, he does. And he did that beautifully. You think he has got about 7 signs that he uses that are very useful for you to know what he wants?
Sigrun Griffiths: Absolutely, he tells us that when he has finished when he doesn't want more. I think we are unlikely to get that response.
Emma Howard: He might tell you he wants more. So what are the other signs he knows?
Sigrun Griffiths: He does wash.
Emma Howard: I can't imagine nice on telling he wants to be washed, but you found that he tells you quite a lot, doesn't it? So it doesn't this just mean bathe him?
Sigrun Griffiths: No we use it for washing his hands, washing his mouth and we sort of make it clear what we're going to do. If we're going to wash his mouth, we do and wash his hands and change his nappy.
Huma Nasir: Now, that's the sign for clean so clean, wash whatever.
Emma Howard: So you can adopt it.
Huma Nasir: Paul has it own sign, which is like drying yourself with a towel. So you can, but at end of the day it's between the parent and the child as long as they understand, Reese understands them.
Emma Howard: You end up adopting it slightly at first.
Sigrun Griffiths: Yes, you do.
Emma Howard: You were saying this morning he woke up and asked you for something.
Paul Griffiths: That's right yes. Sigrun was already up and getting ready for work and he woke up and woke me up and the first thing that he did was made this sign at me and straightaway I knew that he was referring to himself and his nappy and it was a use a little just wet around his waist and so he as quite clearly saying, can we sort this out, please?
Emma Howard: Yes, I'm uncomfortable. Will you change me?
Paul Griffiths: Yes, absolutely.
Emma Howard: Which he couldn't possibly say. So you'd have to discover that yourself, which of course you'd have done as much parents do, but really encouraging to have him communicate that with you.
Paul Griffiths: That's right, you see this.
Emma Howard: What are his other signs? You say he has got about 7.
Sigrun Griffiths: He does phone. We thought he had an ear infection. I was going to take him to see the doctors and then I realized if I just gave him the mobile phone the ear infection thing was just ...
Emma Howard: I mean was that a sign or was he just imitating?
Sigrun Griffiths: He just did that.
Emma Howard: I know it's the sign for phone.
Huma Nasir: Yeah, it's like that.
Sigrun Griffiths: We haven't taught him that, but he had made that sign up. I think this is encouraging him to use his body to communicate with us. It's not necessarily something that we teach him, but he knows that we understand him.
Emma Howard: Because I think lots of toddlers pretend to be on the phone, do you think that toddlers are actually kind of giving a sign language, but we just don't know how to read it anyway.
Huma Nasir: Well, again they want to communicate with us and that's why every baby will start to point. That's their form of communication, because they can't use words at that time or the same is waving goodbye. I mean everybody teaches their baby to wave goodbye. It's just a same concept, but you're just teaching them signs of what would be helpful for the baby and for you.
Emma Howard: People don't have to come in a long course, they just have to work for themselves?
Huma Nasir: No, it's a very simple concept. It's a very, very simple concept. It's easy to learn. You don't have to spend hours on it. As long as you understand the basic concept, it's something you just get on with and you introduce the signs after the first three that the recommended, it's up to you what you introduce. Every family will want to introduce different signs. You may have a pet in the family or something.
Emma Howard: And then in the workshop they can talk to you about that. So how much does it cost for a two-hour workshop? Well, let Reese run around and there you go lot's to explore, isn't there? He might come back with a new sign, you never know. Oh! Now we have ...
Huma Nasir: Reese is having fun.
Emma Howard: So tell much does it take?
Huma Nasir: I run workshops in South West London and it's £35 for the workshop that includes quite a lot of detailed handouts. Sigrun came on her own, but she was able to take handouts home and the official Sign with The Baby booklet which has about 168 body sign language signs.
Emma Howard: So really you just kick starting parents?
Huma Nasir: Well, I think I give you everything you need to know basically and you just go home and get on with it, because it's through reputation. It's not going to happen overnight. It's through reputation.
Emma Hoard: How long do you think you should wait before you see a sign back? How long is the piece of string with a baby, but roughly?
Huma Nasir: Well, I can only say for my own experience. I started signing with my daughter Hannah when she was 8 month and she first back signed back just before she was 11 months old and I think ...
Sigrun Griffiths: It was even longer us.
Huma Nasir: Reese took a little bit longer.
Huma Nasir: But I have heard that other people's babies at 9 months they sign back within three weeks. Again, when will your baby walk?
Emma Howard: Exactly, all babies are different, but the point is that you just keep going and when you get it back, I mean the delight in your face, you can just sing when it happens to you.
Huma Nasir: When they first sign, it's like the penny drop. They certainly realize that my parents have been doing to me for the last sort of couple of months actually make sense and when they realize that they can use it to get their point across, they suddenly just start learning very, very quickly after the first one or the two signs. That is to say they realize that these things mean something and they learn very quickly.
Emma Howard: Well, it's been really interesting to hear about this communication and even better to see it in action. That was just joyous when he showed us what milk was. Now, here he is. He has been running around the studio. Let's bring Reese back in finally on the sofa.
Sigrun Griffiths: With his chocolate biscuits.
Emma Wonder: I wonder what he has discovered behind the set. Could he tell us?
Huma Nasir: Biscuit was one of my daughter's favorite signs. The sign for biscuit is this.
Emma Howard: And how does that relate to biscuit?
Huma Nasir: Well, that relates to -- when the sailor's used to go out to see and they used to have biscuits stored in the weevils used to get in. So they used to pick up the biscuit and knock it on their elbow to get the weevils out.
Emma Howard: So history and sign language as well. My goodness! Fantastic. And they learn that when they're older. Well, thank you Reese for showing us it's done. Thank you Paul for entertaining him and Sigrun and Huma thank you for explaining how that works. I was fascinated to see it in action actually. Thank you very much indeed.