Speech Pathologist uses baby sign language to help infants, toddlers with communication

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Kylie and Klaire

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Kylie Moritz of Sunflower Early Education Center speech wants to help parents communicate with their children, even before they become verbal. She is using “baby sign language” to do so.

Klaire Dickson, now 4-years-old is one of her students and her mother, Alysha, could not be happier with the results she’s getting, and way she is able no share with her daughter.

“Klaire wasn’t reaching communication developmental milestones,” Alysha said. “When she did speak, it was almost always in a whisper. She had become frustrated with her inability to tell us what she wanted and needed.

When working with Klaire, Moritz employs multiple methods from used books and visual aids when she visits during her weekly and bi-weekly visits in Strafford, KS.

“Kylie gave us strategies to alleviate some of our frustrations. Through the EEC and with Kylie’s expertise, we were able to teach Klaire sign language.”

Dickson had used some sign language with Klaire’s older brother in the past. However, only a few words were involved, and he became able to communicate quickly.

“I was just not equipped to give Klaire the extensive sign language she needed,” Dickson said. “The EEC visits were always a glimmer of hope in a very frustrating time in Klaire’s development.

Dickson, like many parents, was skeptical about focusing on sign language in the beginning. “Parents sometimes think if their child uses baby sign language they won’t learn to talk,” Moritz said. “This is not so. Research studies and our experiences show the ability to speak can occur faster with signing.

The repetition and consistency is what aides in the development and the sooner the child will pick up language and communication skills.

In many cases, Moritz will begin with eating and drinking signs.

For example, if a child points to the refrigerator, “it is okay for parents to act like they don’t know what their child wants so the child will attempt to communicate it. You open the fridge and show the child the milk. Then, you pair the milk with the sign for milk.”

Moritz acknowledged this will take a “little coaxing at first. But when they give the correct sign for milk, children will have a direct reward.”

The SLP emphasized that a child’s whole family needs to participate in these efforts.

“Parents are their children’s best teachers. I always knew Alysha was implementing the strategies in daily life because of Klaire’s great progress. She met all milestones and became age appropriate in all developmental areas.”

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