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Can Sign Language Benefit Individuals with Autism?

Updated: Apr 14

April is a time for Awareness.  We are suddenly and refreshingly aware of the buds on trees, the first butterfly to flitter past us and the bright and sunny petals of daffodils. We are also aware of the hope that this month brings. It seems cheerfully appropriate that April is National Autism Awareness Months. Individuals and their families with Autism are always hopeful. New therapies, treatments, inclusion opportunities are the wishes and hopes shared by those impacted by Autism.

April is also time for Growth. Individuals are growing in their own skin and we as a community are growing in our Acknowledgement and Acceptance of all of our many differences.

Autism is a disability with a wide spectrum of talents and challenges. Communication is often one of the difficulties that is experienced by those impacted.  Finding ways to be understood and to express one self can be frustrating for those with Autism and just the same for the family and friends surrounding that person. As humans, we want to understand as much as we want to be understood. Sign Language offers an opportunity to open up channels of communication a bit wider.  Emotions, feelings and thoughts can be expressed and social interactions can be improved.

Studies have shown that individuals with Autism who use sign language - with spoken language - have better expressive and receptive language abilities than previously. There are also indications of enhanced memory and learning abilities. The visual nature of sign language aids in memory recall and retention. Using gestures and signs, learning can be more memorable and can be retrieved more easily which translates into higher academic achievement.

For many individuals with speech challenges using sign language helps with understanding and interpreting non-verbal cues. Through improved social interactions, sign language empowers individuals with autism to navigate the world more successfully. As we have become more socially aware, helping to bridge the gap through learning of sign language is one way we can be both supportive and accepting of the needs of those with communication challenges.

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