Our Signing Time Story by Alyson Darvas
My name is Alyson Darvas and I live in Colchester, CT a transplant from my hometown of Queens, NY. My son Jordan was born in December of 2009 after a 6 ½ year struggle to conceive. I had waited so long for this child, I was determined to bond and communicate with him early on. While researching methods of communication, I came across the Signing Time program. I had heard of the theory of signing with infants but had never seen it used in practice. I was skeptical but willing to try. What unfolded was nothing short of incredible! When Jordan was about 9 months old, I began with Baby Signing Time Vol. 1 and we watched a little bit every day. I would use the signs whenever I spoke to him and I could see after about a month, he would start to try and do the signs he was seeing. I would run to get him whatever he would sign. My husband Cris would laugh and say, “you don’t have to give him something every time he signs it” and I would say “Yes, but it is important that he knows I understand him!”
I don’t think Cris was fully convinced this was possible until, video camera in hand, he stumbled upon Jordan, sitting in his room alone at between 10 – 11 months. Jordan was paging through a book of nursery rhymes, when he came across a mother and child and paused to sign “baby”. While watching our son sign unprompted we understood that HE understood – he was truly communicating! We couldn’t wait to get the rest of the set of Baby Signing Time DVDs, we were just soaking up all this knowledge together as a family. He loved to watch Rachel and so did I! When we had learned all of Baby Signing Time, we quickly added Signing Time to our collection.
When Jordan was at the pediatrician for his one year well visit, he was signing in her office. When I mentioned it to her, she replied, “Do you know that could delay his speech?” You could hear the rhetorical needle on the record scratch, “Wait, HUH?” Talking about it on the ride home with my sister, I decided that, if this was to be true, it didn’t matter if his speech was delayed because we were communicating and that was all that mattered to me. But when I got home and did further research, to find out how truly beneficial sign language would be to his language and over all development, I was really upset that this doctor was conveying misinformation. I promptly found another pediatrician and continued signing.
I had always known that I needed to work with children somehow, but my background was in jewelry production and graphic design, how would I make that happen? It was upon offering a friend the information on the Signing Time website, that I stumbled upon the Academy and a lightbulb went off. I knew this worked; I had the evidence right there before me. I immediately became certified as a Baby Signing Instructor and then quickly worked on my advanced certification upgrade by taking classes online. Like my son, I could not get enough.
Through my business, Little Smarty Hands, I will be offering Play and Sign classes in the Southeastern CT area. I also continue to create jewelry charms designed around children’s hand, foot or fingerprints. My business motto is “Smart Hands = Smart Minds.” It is my hope to reach out to professionals, like my previous doctor and set about trying to increase awareness of using this method to communicate with children of all abilities. Jordan started talking at about a year, a lot of babble mixed with simple words like mama, dada. By 20 months his vocabulary seemed to increase by the minute, far surpassing that of his non-signing peers, and far more articulately than some older than him. Not only was he saying words like “scrumptious”, I could understand him perfectly and he was speaking in sentences. At 2 ½, he will still ask me, “how do I sign this mommy?” I can see how being able to convey his needs and have them met has made him a very secure and confident child and has given us a gratifying bonding experience that is indescribable. I can’t control the fit he throws over wanting the cookie before dinner or wanting to bring home every crayon he sees, but at least I know what it is he wants and it makes these tantrums very short lived.
We were thrilled to be able to get on stage with Rachel recently and sign the Feelings song. It was truly amazing to get to shake her hand and thank her in person for having such a huge part in changing my life and shaping my son’s. There are no other words to express the feelings of gratitude we have for Rachel Coleman and Signing Time, but for a simple “thank you”, said with an open palm extended from the chin.