To preserve the development of hearing-impaired children, sign language is essential

How do you ensure that a baby who cannot hear well, or at all, can develop properly? A study points out that sign language would prevent any delay.

To develop, a baby needs to interact with others, and this requires hearing and being able to express himself. How to prevent hearing-impaired children from suffering from developmental delays? A study published in Society for Research in child development suggests that the sign language spoken from an early age would fully compensate.

123 children, aged 3 to 7, were studied. Among them were 77 children who could not hear at all, or not correctly. Not all children with hearing problems were exposed to sign language in the same way. Some had practiced it from birth, others had discovered it later.

Sign language needs to be taught early

The emotional, cognitive and behavioral development of all these children was compared. The researchers realized that the lack of hearing was not a problem in itself for the little ones to understand and interact normally when faced with new situations. Those who had access to sign language the earliest showed no difference in adaptation compared to hearing children. On the other hand, those who had taken a long time to learn sign language had more difficulties.

The latter struggled with what is called the execution function. Researchers define it as the process by which one controls one’s behavior in order to achieve a goal. This function affects the spheres of active memory, inhibition and movement. This enabled them to justify the importance of using sign language as early as possible with hearing-impaired babies.

Source : Language not auditory experience is related to parent-reported executive functioning in preschool-aged deaf and hard-of-hearing children, Society for Research in child development, 11 octobre 2021.

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