We had an opportunity recently to attend an event in the deaf community. As we arrived my daughter began to look around at everyone signing. She turned to me and signed, "Mommy, signing." While I knew she knows the sign for mommy, I had no idea she knew the sign for signing. As I looked at my husband who was also amazed by her little sentence, she pulled my chin to really look at her and again signed, "Mommy, signing." It was as if she was telling me that this was her language. Overwhelmed by this conversation with my nonverbal child, I began to cry and signed back, "Yes, signing."
(Signing "Thank You," one of her first signs.)
Since that day we have focused a lot on sign language and it is surprising what she has to say. One night when I was reading Pocket Full of Kisses to her, she looked up at me and signed "Raccoon." This wasn't a sign I had taught her but rather one she had learned from watching a Signing Time
video. The videos have been great for the whole family. We have a few, but we also check them out from the library.
Another source I have been using for learning sign language is a sight called Signing Savvy. When ever I come upon a word that would be useful to know I look it up. They also have a daily sign and tips for learning conversational ASL.
YouTube also has videos that can help you learn sign language (or really anything for that matter.) A search for ASL lessons will return plenty of videos.
And last, but not least, look to your school system. If your child is involved in Early Intervention, or speech delay is a problem, your school district will have a number of resources. Many districts can send someone to your home to discuss your options and help your family learn sign language. If there is not a speech delay or you would like to learn just for yourself, there may be a continuing education class through the school district as well.
American Sign Language is a beautiful form of communication and is the third most common language used in the United States. Sometimes, my husband and I will find ourselves signing to each other when we find it is inappropriate to talk or we don't want to span a distance with yelling. I have also used my limited vocabulary to help out in public situations, kind of an awkward translating, but it works. Whether you know someone who signs or just want to learn, I think you will find sign language beneficial.