Children’s Hospital Boston teams up with Signing Time to benefit children with Down syndrome

This “Making a Difference with Signing Time” blog post is an interview with Dr. Emily Jean Davidson, director of the Down Syndrome Program at Children’s Hospital Boston

What types of services does your program provide for children with Down syndrome?

The Down Syndrome Program at Children’s Hospital was started in 1967 with a particular focus on children with Down syndrome from birth to age 3.  The clinic has an interdisciplinary model with each child seen every six months by a team of specialists in speech-language pathology, physical therapy, nutrition, dentistry, audiology, and developmental pediatrics.  In 2009, our program has expanded to follow children with Down syndrome up to age 18.

How did you get connected with Signing Time?

Back row is Dr. Brian Skotko, Clinical Genetics Fellow, left is Dr. Emily Davidson, Director, right is Angela Lombardo, Program Coordinator, Bottom is Ben Majewski, Resource Specialist.

For many years we have encouraged families to begin using sign language as part of a total communication approach. In 2007, we purchased several Signing Time videos for parents to borrow and found that both kids and parents were delighted with them. We noticed that once families actually saw and used a Signing Time video they became more confident to use signs with their children. I can remember one little boy who only had a handful of spoken words telling me a whole story in sign language about being on a boat and being scared.  I asked his mother how she and her son had learned so many signs (over 300) and she told me it was all from the Signing Time videos. We felt that if we could provide one introductory video for each family during infancy, more families would start using signs and more children would benefit.

How many families get these videos each year?

Over one hundred families join our program each year. Our families with young children who receive the videos report back that older siblings pick up the signs quickly and love the DVDs as much as their children with Down syndrome – so this gift is for the whole family!

In what other ways are the videos used?

We include Signing Time DVDs in our lending library and they are EXTREMELY popular also with families whose children are admitted in the hospital.  We have families who are in for longer stays and the children love having the DVDs to watch in their hospital rooms.  We have one family who has been here for a very long extended time period and they have been borrowing 2 or 3 at a time and switching them every so often to keep their son happy and learning more and more during his stay!

How do you raise money for the videos?

In June 2009, our program coordinator, Angela Lombardo, organized “Team Down Syndrome” to walk in the NSTAR Walk for Children’s Hospital Boston.  We use some of the funds to purchase Signing Time videos.

In what other ways has Signing Time supported your program?

Kei Malone, a Signing Time fan and volunteer, donated two Signing Time DVD Collections to our lending library,  so we have videos for the beginner as well as for the more experienced signer.

Thank you, Signing Time, for helping us reach hundreds of families and improve the lives of children with Down syndrome!

Thank YOU for helping us fulfill our mission of helping children of all ages and abilities communicate and connect with the people they love.



In 2010, Signing Time partnered with the National Down Syndrome Society and offered a free Signing Time Gift Set to Buddy Walk registrants.  117 registrants took us up on the offer! They each received a Signing Time Gift Set with 3 DVDs and a music CD. The total retail value of the donated products was over $9,000!

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