Language Milestones

Tonight at dinner, we caught a video of Travis (age 3 1/2 in years, but only 4 1/2 months in language), "babbling."

It reminds me of this viral video of a hearing girl babbling.  Babbling is normally something kids do beginning at a very young age, then as they get closer to one year, their babbling begins to sound more like words, even though they are still unintelligible.  Just like the hearing parents respond to this girl by talking to her normally, as if they know what she's saying, we respond to Travis as if we are comprehending every word he's signing.

What's interesting about Travis, being 3 years old, but only 4 months old in language development.  He matches many of his 3-year milestones, but is also behind some of them.  All the while, he's hitting milestones for 12-24 months.

His most recent advances in communication:

  • He clearly and consistently tell us "yes" when he wants something and "no" when he doesn't.  For "no," he uses both the proper sign for the word, and will sometimes appropriately wave his hand gesturally and shake his head.  It's SO cute and such an improvement from the fussing, head-turning, and pushing away that he did in the past.
  • He is beginning to ask for a specific color of something.  Right now, he seems to just know blue and red, but I know from my other kids, that means the other colors will quickly follow.
  • He's understanding turn-taking in conversation.  At church, a friend came up to visit with us. When she stopped talking and looked at him, he started signing, "Airplane, helicopter, car, truck."  It was just a string of his favorite things, but he understood that he was "visiting" with this gal. He is also beginning to "chat" with his little brother.
  • He (obviously if you watch the video) knows that people communicate with their mouths as well. He will mimic speech, and even "talk" on the phone to grandparents.
  • He is getting better at paying attention while we get out a short, but complete thought to him.
  • He loves to tell his siblings, "No!"  I must get this on video, because it's too adorable.
  • He's using language to joke around.  He's pointed to something, then signed the wrong thing, laughing, knowing he's being funny.  He will also "tease" his siblings by telling them "No!" then smiling and giggling about it.
  • He will sign, "WHERE, ______, WHERE?" Then shrug his shoulders or sign, "SEARCH."  He uses appropriate non-manual markers.  This would be equivalent to a hearing child saying, with all the right inflection "Where is my jet? I'm looking for it."
  • He copies every...single...thing...we sign.  Whether we're asking him something or telling him something, he mimics everything right back to us, often sign-by-sign.  We love this because it's another normal, on-track language milestone.

Overall, we are still astounded at the rate he's soaking up language.  I need to try to capture more of his signing on video.  I hope parents with young deaf children will see these videos and be encouraged to sign with their kids!


  1. I remember your husband (my son) doing all of these things when he was that age too. It was so cute. Ken B.

  2. I was floating around You Tube and came across a video of your little ones signing in the car, about airplanes and helicopters. OMG they are the sweetest thing. You children are beautiful! My 2 year old watched with me, and she wanted to see them over and over again. She knows some signs and recognized a few they signed.

  3. Hi there, I'm a professor of language and education in Chicago, and I showed this video to my class when talking about ASL acquisition. Aside from it being educational, I think your whole family is absolutely precious, and I admire you so much from a personal level. Thank you for sharing this with the online community.

  4. My friend's daughter is deaf. When she was a child her playmates were mostly hearing. Many learned some ASL over the years, but they all started out with this same 'babbling' talk. I remember once watching one of her friends 'signing' to her as she spoke (my friend's daughter was excellent at lip reading). I asked her, "What did he say?" She laughed so hard and said, "NOTHING!"


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