I live near Crossgar, Co. Down and am mum to twins, Eoghan and Aine aged 15 and Cara aged 4.
I am a qualified Social Worker and have worked with young people and families for the past 14 years. I studied Psychology to degree and Masters level at QUB. Since then, I have had varied and interesting experience, from the financial field, residential work with people with disabilities to work with deaf blind people. It was while undertaking this work that I began studying BSL. I have completed BSL to stage 1 and 2.
I started using signs with my twins, not because I had ever heard of baby signing, but because it made sense to me that it would aid their communication. My friends and family still talk about how they used to display their signing skills!
When Cara was born I was delighted to learn that the concept of 'baby signing' had exploded. After doing some research on the internet I was even more convinced about the benefits. I started signing with Cara from she was 5 months old. She did her first signs at 5 1/2 months of age. By the age of 12 months she could use 50 - 70 signs and was able to tell us when she was hungry, thirsty, tired, needed her nappy changed, etc. She could also have a 'conversation' with us and take part in reading stories.
One of the most amazing 'signing' experiences I had was when Cara was almost 9 months old. I had been breastfeeding but was in the process of weaning, so had introduced a bottle/cup. That night I was breast feeding as normal, but had brought some milk in her cup to give her after, as I knew she would need more. She was getting quite upset as I was feeding her. I signed 'milk' and she lifted her head and signed 'no milk'! When I lifted her cup she got excited and signed ‘milk’. I couldn't believe it so I repeated this several times with the same result! That was the last time I breastfed Cara, as there was indeed 'no milk'. I think it was totally amazing that a baby at less than 9 months of age could tell me this so clearly herself.
I was disappointed, however, to see that the 'baby signing' concept hasn’t really taken off in Northern Ireland. I really am passionate about the benefits and feel that introducing signs to babies will not only help them learn and communicate with others but will also give them an introduction to BSL, the beautiful language of most members of the Deaf community in Northern Ireland. I had already come across Sign2Me, as I had been using Dr Joseph Garcia's Sign with your Baby pack. Sign2Me is the original Baby Signing Organisation, based on Dr Joseph Garcia's 'SIGN with your BABY' programme, a straightforward and fun approach to showing infants how to communicate using simple signs borrowed from sign language. It has presenters all over the world including the UK and Ireland. His system draws from his years of research in early childhood development and from his own personal experience of signing with his own children. I joined the Sign2Me presenter’s network in May 2007 and 'Sign 2 Music' was born!