:: Kane County Chronicle | Helping hands: Parents sign to communicate with infants, tots ::

Helping hands: Parents sign to communicate with infants, tots

By JAMI KUNZER – jkunzer@nwnewsgroup.com

At 13 months old, Anna Glatz can’t say, “I’d like some milk.”

But she can and does get the message across by using sign language.

“She thinks she’s a hot shot,” said Anna’s mother, Melissa Glatz of South Elgin.

Glatz started taking “Sign, Say and Play” classes with her daughter at Materna Wellborn Resource in Algonquin as a way to get out of the house and socialize. Anna now knows 14 signs.

She tells her mother when she’s “all done,” when she wants to play and when she’s tired.

Anna’s learning “baby sign,” a sign language created by two doctors in 1982 as a way for babies to “talk” to their parents before they actually talk. It’s basically American sign language modified to make it easier for babies.

And it’s gaining in popularity as more parents look to better communicate with their children.

“The biggest question in the minds of many is, ‘Is this going to keep my child from talking?’ No. It’s a great benefit for the child in enhancing language development,” said Nancy Graham of Crystal Lake, who teaches the program in Algonquin, at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington and various other locations throughout the area.

Children become less frustrated when they can communicate what they want and need, she said. The initial classes are tied to routines in the home, while some babies go on to learn signs for animals and other objects.

The signs help establish the routines, such as mealtime, bedtime and bath-time, Graham said. Continue

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