Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type



Gesture use is a precursor to spoken language, and children who exhibit frequent use of gesture have higher rates of speech comprehension and production when tested between 13 and 15 months of age (Bates et al, 1989). The purpose of this study was to learn more about caregivers’ perceptions of the use and benefits of sign to their children. Fifty-three caregivers were recruited for the study, and 33 (62%) of these caregivers reported that they had used or were currently using baby signs with one of their children. Six (18%) of these caregivers also reported that their children presented developmental delays, whereas the others reported that their children were developing language typically. Information about these caregivers’ perceptions of signs was collected through a survey. Results indicated that no significant demographic differences existed between those who used baby signs and those who did not. The child’s gender and childcare setting also did not influence a caregiver’s use of sign. Results also showed that caregivers began introducing baby signs to their children around 8 months of age, and the average number of different signs produced by these children was 17. The most common signs reported by the caregivers were “more,” “eat,” “milk,” “thank you” and “all done.” Perceived benefits of sign use included the facilitation of their children’s communication skills (40%), reduction of child frustration (32%), caregiver-child enjoyment (15%), and caregiver-child bonding (13%). The clinical status of the children minimally influenced the results; however, caregivers of children with developmental delays reported that they used signs more frequently and for a longer period of time than caregivers of children without developmental delay.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Janna B. Oetting