Saturday, April 25, 2009

Smiley's Baby Communication

My wife and I use mostly speaking but also some ASL when communicating with Smiley. Yesterday he added a fifth word to his spoken vocabulary. Today he invented two gestures.

From November to February he used only one gesture: raising one arm straight with an open, flat hand. This could mean all sorts of things: "I want to be picked up", "Look at me", "Follow me", "I'm so big", or even "I want milk" (the last because he was thinking of our sign for milk but not squeezing his fingers).

(Using only one hand for "I want up" is unusual. But he spent a lot of time those months in a baby corral, so one hand was often busy supporting him standing against it.)

In late February he began to sign "finished" but did so in a doubly-confused manner. First, he used a single clap rather than moving his hands apart. Second, he understood it to mean "help me with the next thing I want" which could mean he was finished in his high chair but also could mean "next food, please" or "help me with what I am trying to do".

On March 9th he began to "steer" us when we carried him by reaching in the direction he wanted to go. On March 13th he began to wave goodbye more consistently.

In late March he began to sign "up" but again did so almost unintelligibly: he touches his fingertips together, which is actually the sign for "more".

A few times he has signed "food", but not recently. He has been teething for weeks now, which causes him to touch his mouth so much that it caused this sign to fall from use.

His first two words besides "Ma" and "Da" were "in" (started Feb 4th, regularly by Feb. 26th) and "down" (March 5th). (Mamama and Dadada he still reserves for babbling. When he refers to us it is usually one syllable.)

Yesterday he added "up", saying it both when being picked up and when scooting up the cobblestone slope in the back yard. Apparently prepositions come most easily to him. (He might have said "sand" on March 2nd but it was vague.)

Today he invented three gestures.

Both times he was ready for a nap he told me by going to his stuffed animal rabbit and hugging it as he does when going to bed. I asked him if he wanted a bottle, and he giggled, which is his way of answering affirmatively.

When he was ready for dinner he crawled over to me and pretended to pick things out of my palm and put them into his mouth. I asked him if he wanted food, and he again giggled "yes".

He has played with the aspirator before, but today he gestured that he wanted it used by alternately touching its tip to his nose and touching a tissue to his nose.

UPDATE: A week later he continues to use his stuffed animal rabbit to communicate wanting a nap, but has not reused his invented sign for food. Happily, he no longer has need of the aspirator so I cannot say if he would reuse that gesture.

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