I moved to Toronto last December near my son's house. I hope your signing classes are still running and going well. My older granddaughter is five now but still has very little fine motor control so a lot of her signs look much the same. But her parents and the teachers at her school are using picture cards a lot now - she has good understanding and will usually point clearly at one card if there are not more than three choices, sometimes four.
This is supplemented with yes-no questions which she answers by pointing to "yes" and "no" cards since she can't sign yes or no or even nod or shake her head clearly. This gets like the old parlour game of "Twenty Questions" but her Mom especially is getting good at zeroing in on what's wrong or what she wants to do. But she does still use signing and has correctly notified her Mom the last three times she had a bladder infection, by signing "hurt" and pointing. We keep signing to her to help her with understanding her classmates - deaf or non-verbal - who are signing to her.
My younger granddaughter is a "typical" child and has taken to signing like a duck to water - starting when she was six months old. She's 15 months old now and we find ourselves having little conversations with her - e.g. playing with Granddad in the backyard; Mom comes out on the deck: She signs "eat". Granddad: no, it's not time for lunch yet. She signs "banana" Mom: no, you had a banana for breakfast. Etc.
Both the girls also sign to each other and seem to interpret better than the adults. One will make a sign then they will both hoot and laugh but the adult didn't get the joke. Also both at one time or another have alerted her parents that her sister has a problem they hadn't noticed.
Thanks for my great start to baby-signing and I can verify with my grand-kids it is bringing all the advantages My Smart Hands claims for it and it's made my older granddaughter’s hard wee life a whole lot easier for her and us.
WOW!! I literally had tears while reading this!
Thank you so much for this wonderful email Alan!