Language has become a big issue in the MetaHousehold. MetaToddler, who is about 18 months now, has very few words that anyone other than MetaDaddy and I can understand. Words like mama, dada, and baby come to mind. We know he's trying to say words like book, banana, and bread, but they all sound like "ba." We know because of the context, and we know his inclinations. There's no way anyone else would be able to figure it out without some training.
I've mentioned our attempt at teaching him sign language. It's coming in real handy these days. He, like most toddlers, is rather high anxiety. When he can't explain himself, he gets quite frustrated. And when he doesn't get what he wants, he has a melt down. The signs he knows are very useful in getting his point across.
He currently knows about 16 signs well enough to express his desires.
Food related: eat, more, fruit, water, banana, cheerio, milk
Play related: up, down, sit, book, telephone
Misc: bath, diaper, blow kiss, bye, please
Every time he says "please," I shiver with delight. He's still working on bread, crackers, yogurt, and car. He thinks he's doing them right, so he doesn't seem to understand why we keep "correcting" him. We can understand him in the right context, but it's not easy.
We're also working on teaching him the following:
thank you, wait, sorry, hurt, finished, orange, avocado, blocks
While I don't put too much time into learning new signs, I do give it a little effort. I Tivo Signing Time and watch it with him when we get a chance. He'll mimic signs on the program, and we work on them throughout the day, when possible. I also go online to find specific new signs I want. Since I don't do well learning signs by reading the action, I found Michigan State's American Sign Language Browser, which has a short video clip for each word in their dictionary. When I can't find a word on there, I go to Life Print, which has a lot of signs explained verbally and with photos, though no video.
Someone saw MetaToddler signing the other day and asked me about it. She was thinking of teaching her daughter to sign, but asked if I thought his speech has been delayed as a result. Someone apparently warned her that it might happen. Honestly, I hadn't even thought of it. Perhaps sign language has delayed his speech. However, if anything it's because he's so successful in communicating with me. If he couldn't get his point across, he might try harder to speak. That said, I've also heard that sign language can speed up a child's language skills. Personally, I just figure he's going at his own pace. He's not frustrated and I don't have to deal with many tantrums (I know, I know...more to come). But he'll speak in due time, and when he does, we'll long for the days of watching him sign "please."