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Special Needs sign

» Reaching Special Needs Children through Signing
» General Special Needs Research
» Autism
» Down Syndrome
» Children in Hospital Settings
» Reading Disabilities

Reaching Special Needs Children through Signing

For decades, speech language professionals have used signs simultaneously with speech in treating children who are slow to develop verbal communication.  Using sign language has also proven to be a successful intervention with children with special needs including Down syndrome and autism.  Many of the aberrant behaviors associated with developmental disabilities are rooted in the frustration associated with an inability to communicate.  Signing can help alleviate this frustration in special needs children.

General Special Needs Research

Daniels, M. (2005) The silent signs of learning: ASL in a special needs class. Child Study Journal (in press).

Donovan, C. (1998, January/February) Teaching Sign Language. Disability Solutions, 2(5), 1, 3-7.
Apraxia of Speech

Gretz, S. (n.d.). Using sign language with children who have apraxia of speech. Retrieved Nov. 10, 2007 from:

Square, P.A. (1994). Treatment approaches for developmental apraxia of speech. Clinical Communications Disorders, 4(3),:151-61.


Edelson, S.M. (n.d.). Signed speech or simultaneous communication. Retrieved November 10, 2007, from

Down Syndrome

Gibbs, E.D., Springer, A.S., Cooley, S.C., & Aloisio, S. (1991). Early use of total communication: Patterns across eleven children with Down syndrome. (Paper presented at the meeting of the International Early Childhood Conference on Children with Special Needs, St.Louis, MO.)

Hopmann, M.R. (1993). The use of signs by children with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Today, 2(2), 22-3. Retrieved November 10, 2007, from:

Miller J.F., Sedey A., Miolo G., Rosin M., & Murray-Branch J. (1992). Vocabulary acquisition in young children with Down syndrome: Speech and sign. (Paper presented at the 9th World Congress of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Mental Deficiency. Queensland Australia August 1992.)

Watson, C. (Winter 1996). Total communication options for children with Down syndrome in the context of Hanen programs for parents. Wig Wag. Retrieved November 10, 2007, from:

Children in Hospital Settings

Hall, S.S., & Weatherly K.S. (1989). Using sign language with tracheotomized infants and children. Pediatric Nurse, 15(4) 362-367. Retrieved November 10, 2007, from:

Reading Disabilities

Blackburn, D., Vonvillian, J., & Ashby, R. (1984). Manual communication as an alternative mode of language instruction for children with severe reading disabilities. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 15, 22-31.

Carney, J., Cioffi, G., & Raymond, W. (1985, Spring). Using sign language for teaching sight words. Teaching Exceptional Children, pp. 214-217.

Sensenig, L., Topf, B., & Mazeika, E. (1989, June). Sign language facilitation of reading with students classified as trainable mentally handicapped. Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded, pp. 121-125.

Vernon, M., Coley, J., Hafer, J., & Dubois, J. (1980). Using sign language to remediate severe reading problems. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 13, 215-218.