SELECTED ARTICLE
Author
Toan Dinh 
Article Title
My Baby Fingers - Expanding Communication With Sign Language Classes For Teens 
Posted Date
11/24/2009 
 

Growing in popularity, the concept of pre-verbal communication with infants has benefited many families. Current theory suggests that children have finished developing basic language skills at around five years of age, but the desire and need to communicate can begin in babies as early as four months. Many parents have found that early teaching and use of non-verbal communication with their hearing and deaf children has yielded exciting results, including earlier meaningful communication with young children and larger vocabularies for toddlers who can confidently sign their needs and feelings.

Beyond childhood, those who participate in sign language classes for teens and who know American Sign Language (ASL) can communicate with a broader range of people. Baby Fingers, an organization in New York offering sign language and music classes teaches children, teens and adults to communicate non-verbally. Originally focused on sign language programs for babies and their parents, Baby Fingers has expanded their classes to include sign language classes for teens.

The company's founder and director, Lora Heller, theorizes that children and teens who are able to interact with others using ASL are sometimes better able to express themselves than if using speech alone. With this in mind, she developed sign language classes for teens, a program taught by a deaf teacher of ASL. Classes for teens 15 years or older are designed to encourage those who are just beginning their study of sign language to increase their vocabulary and communication skills, refining any previous ASL experience they may have had. In Baby Fingers' sign language classes for teens, participants learn basic signs of ASL and, like learning any other language, broaden their interactions with composed multi-word phrases.

A testimonial to the success of learning basic ASL, a New York parent reports, "our older son has gone through all of Lora's Baby Fingers classes and they are so wonderful. We have our younger son enrolled now too! All the teachers are great, each one with a special flair." Lora Heller, MS, MT-BC, LCAT is the founder and director of Baby Fingers and is a Board Certified and Licensed Music Therapist with a Master of Science in Special Education/Deaf Education. Baby Fingers offers parents and children classes for music and sign language, music therapy, and sign language classes for teens. Mrs. Heller has offered such programs at St. Mary's Hospital for Children, St. Luke's Hospital Division of Child Psychiatry & Roosevelt Hospital Preschool, and The New York School for the Deaf, and the 92nd Street Y.

Beyond sign language classes for teens, children and adults, Mrs. Heller has authored several books that teach parents how to communicate with their children using sign language. Her books, such as "Baby Fingers: Teaching Your Baby to Sign" are available on Amazon.com. She has also recorded a CD of original children's songs entitled "You Can’t Fall Up" which feature performances by her own family members. For more information, or to view a class schedule, visit MyBabyFingers.

References
Baby Fingers LLC, founded by Lora Heller, Board Certified and Licensed Music Therapist with a M.Sc. in Special Education/Deaf Education, specializing in music mediated sign language instruction. For more information, visit MyBabyFingers.com
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