Because of Twitter I have made many great connections with a lot of fascinating and extraordinary people. Laura Berg, the creator and genius behind My Smart Hands, is one of those people.
My Smart Hands is a program designed to help parents of hearing children teach their children American Sign Language (or ASL for short) so that they can effectively communicate with their parents before they even learn to talk. Using ASL helps eliminate frustration on both sides, the parents and the children’s perspective, as the parent knows what the child wants and the child is able to communicate to their parent what they need.
I have been interested in sign language since I was a little girl. When I was in Brownies we went to visit a woman in our small community who was hard of hearing. We learned about the equipment she had in her home to help her in her everyday life (closed captioning on her TV, the special features on her telephone, etc.). We also learned how to sign the alphabet and how her guide dog was specially trained to assist her. It was fascinating to learn about this unspoken language. I am still awed and amazed by it today.
Recently I began watching the television show “Switched at Birth” which centres around one of the main characters who happened to have lost her hearing when she was a young child. They use ASL all throughout the show. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you do. It truly demonstrates the beauty of the ASL language.
As for my personal experience, I tried to teach our oldest baby sign language when he was not speaking when he technically “should” have been able. He did not take to it. Speech therapy was recommended and encouraged to us. Soon after he started his therapy sessions, the words began to flow and I gave up on signing.
However, with our youngest it has been a completely different story. He did not seem to want to speak at all. I was getting quite frustrated. He was evaluated and it was determined that he was at least six to nine months behind his “peers.” I was somewhat devastated but more concerned about what was happening.
Our speech pathologist suggested we start demonstrating baby sign language to him and she tried to teach him a few beginner signs. He did not seem interested at all. She learned that day just how stubborn he was!
A few days later I tried again with a couple of the signs she was using. I signed “ball” to him and low and behold he signed it back to me! I was extremely excited.
The coming weeks were awesome. He was taking to signing like a champ!
When I found out about My Smart Hands I immediately began communicating with Laura on Twitter. She was gracious enough to send me the two sets of her My Smart Hands Flash Cards, Everyday Signs and Alphabet Signs, to use with my son.
The flash cards are an excellent resource tool to use when teaching basic ASL signs to your child. The cards are bright and colourful so that they attract your baby or toddler’s attention.
On the front of each card is the word of the sign you will be learning as well as a cute and colourful illustration. Turn the card over and you will see the word once again, a photo of a child demonstrating how to make the ASL sign for that word, and a written description telling you how to make the sign.
The Flash Cards are also multipurpose. Each card has a different colour on it so that you can also teach your child their colours along with ASL. If that is not enough, the cards also teach your child to learn letters by using uppercase letters on the front of the cards and lowercase on the back. So fantastic!
One of the features of the cards that I really like is how portable they are. They come with a detachable ring so that you can hook them to your child’s stroller, diaper bag, or whatever you see fit.
You and your child (or children) can also play a variety of games using the flash cards. Behind the first card in each pack is an instruction manual highlighting a few fun ways to use the cards with your children. I especially like Laura’s suggestion of lining up a few of the cards in front of your child and creating a story using those words. A definite must try with your baby!
My Smart Hands has been tested and reviewed by many Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) parents and bloggers. You know you have a great product in your hands when it has the PTPA Seal proudly displayed on it. A definite must try and buy for any family!
To this day our son continues to communicate with us via sign language. People are amazed when they see him signing. His verbal vocabulary is also increasing by leaps and bounds each and everyday. I am so thankful we have had an alternative way to communicate with him. It has made life so much more pleasant for all of us.
To learn more about My Smart Hands please visit their website at mysmarthands.com. There you will be able to learn how to start signing with your child, where classes are taking place in your community, how to become an instructor, and how to order their great products.
I hope that someday maybe I too can take their course to become an instructor. How much fun would that be?
Thank you Laura for making such a wonderful product for parents and children to use.
I was provided the Alphabet and Everyday Signs Flash Cards by Laura Berg of My Smart Hands for review purposes. I was not compensated in any other way. And as always, the opinions expressed in this piece are honest and are my own.