I’m putting this in GD rather than IMHO because I am interested in hard evidence, if any, not just a pile of anecdotes. Anecdotes I have aplenty. Yet there might be some debate here, too.
I was just talking to a parent of a 2 year old, who says that he communicates with his child using sign language and it works. No one in his family is deaf. This is apparently a new fad among his peer parents, who believe that the mental power of babies can be connected to hand movements earlier in life than mouth movements. They say that kids who are unable to communicate thru speech can do it with a simplified sign language.
A web search on baby sign turns up mostly sites that encourage people of all ages to learn ASL or some other “adult” language as a useful tool for general communication, like learning french. But I haven’t yet found a site that is a strong proponent of my friend’s claim. The nearest was this site (bolding mine):
This site claims “Proven Benefits from Two Decades of Scientific Research”, but does not give the research, just two docs with impressive PhDs. This says “groundbreaking research,” but cites no specific papers.
I can’t help but notice a similarity between “baby sign” concepts and playing Mozart for babies,facilitated communication, and even such experiments with Washoe the chimp and N’kisi, the parrot, all of which claim that communication is possible across age, disability and/or species boundaries. Most of those claims are highly suspicious, and most can be reduced to merely wishful thinking.
So, my question is: is there any good evidence that baby signing has the benefits the proponents claim? Can babies actually talk with hands better than mouths?