In the article “Using Sign Language With An Autistic Child,” the author discusses the nature of the condition known as autism and asserts that teaching a child afflicted with autism how to communicate with sign language can offer a number of benefits to the child. The introductory section of the article begins by describing some of the primary symptoms associated with autism; this is then followed by an explanation of how the use of sign language directly connects with these symptoms in a way that can help autistic children overcome some of the most significant problems associated with the condition. According to the article, “research has proved the advantage of using sign language as a medium of expression to help autistic children.” While the article does not cite specific research projects or studies to support this claim, it does provide a clear, easily-understandable explanation of how and why sign language can benefit children with autism.
According to the article, autism is a “neural disability” that affects children in three “critical areas.” These areas are “verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and creative and imaginary play.” Children with autism also often engage in “repetitive and ritualistic behavior,” and are characterized by their inability or diminished ability to communicate effectively, to maintain eye contact, to use normal gestures or facial expressions, or to utilize other forms of physical communication in a normal manner. The idea of using sign language, then, offers two primary benefits to autistic children. The first benefit is that it provides these children with an alternate means of communicating that can support their efforts to communicate verbally. The second benefit is that it encourages social interaction that involves physical gestures and facial expressions. Together, these benefits may assist autistic children in their efforts to develop communication skills.
The article does not offer any statistics or other information explaining how beneficial the use of sign language with autistic children can be, so it is difficult to know how strong the case is for the author’s argument. It is an intriguing idea, though, and one that seems to make sense. Considering the challenges that the parents and families of autistic children face, the idea of teaching sign language to these children certainly seems as if it could be useful and helpful in some cases.