-Learning to Communicate

Lucas and I joined ‘Happy Hands’ when Lucas was 9 months old. Lucas is about to celebrate his 3rd birthday. Lucas has Down Syndrome.

I decided very early on that I wanted Lucas to be able to sign so that we could communicate with each other, I also wanted to teach Lucas’ dad and our extended family how to sign. Lucas, like most children with Down Syndrome are non verbal in their early years. We don’t know at this stage if Lucas will remain non verbal but he can communicate through sign extremely well. It is a fact that signing sits next to verbal language in the brain therefore the verbal language programme is being stimulated by the use of sign.

Even if Lucas learns to talk we will continue to sign as he may attend a school with other children who communicate through sign. Lucas has never got frustrated or angry because he is able to communicate his wants and feelings. Lucas and I along with the family all sign on a daily basis, we sign nursery rhymes and read books by signing what we see, we sign at every opportunity.

Happy Hands has helped us as a family in so many ways. We have all thoroughly enjoyed learning how to sign and we are still learning every day. The group has given Lucas and I confidence and we have met so many new friends, all from different backgrounds with different life stories. The weekly group is a wonderful mix of social, play and learning, we look forward to our Wednesday evenings every week. The group leader and volunteers often arrange for evenings out and theme evenings as well as the seasonal parties that we have. An example is that we often go to Griffin Forest and are guided around by Rangers and learn all about nature and plants whilst learning new signs, we undertake activities such as willow weaving. Everybody makes you feel extremely welcome and recognise that, sometimes it is a big step to attend a sign group when you have no experience whatsoever. They are a wonderful group of people who really want to help us to learn.

Signing is now a way of lie for us all which will continue to bring new friends into uor lives and eventually help Lucas to talk.

In the past month since I wrote the above, Lucas has began to use verbal language. Lucas is now able to copy words and understand what the words he says mean. Lucas is also trying to form small sentences. We are elated by his progress and will definitely continue doing what we do as it obviously works for us.

Dawn- Happy Hands Parent

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