Monday, September 13, 2010

Day Two of Language Lessons

Much like when teaching an infant I've begun trying to establish a link in Ranger's mind between certain gestures and meaning. He still "Attend"s very well. He even looked away from ice cream when asked to "leave it" and then "Attend" He was rewarded with the little bit of ice cream that remained in the cup.

Anthropomorphizing here I'd say he definitely knows Mom is up to something but has no idea what it is yet.

We began adding, that, is, toy and food to the vocabulary. I find it almost impossible to sign that (pointing with right index finger) is (ASL letter I moving from shoulder to waist) word (insert name of whatever object here) without signing something for the word. Rather than confuse him with random gestures  I picked things that could either be labeled toy (right arm) or food (left arm). Ultimately the goal is that he will be able to ask for toy or food himself with specific gestures made by the right or left paw.

Ranger understands the gesture of pointing to the extent that he flicks his eyes in that direction so he is responding to that. I don't think is has any meaning except something weird Mom is doing but a couple of times he did glance at the object I was identifying as food or toy.

It's interesting thinking about how much he already communicates--asking for a chew, indicating he needs a walk, asking to come in, asking to play, etc. I wonder if he really needs more communication tools. Still, training time is always good. He loves training and I do best if I have a goal I'm training toward so really we've nothing to lose: he gets the training time and I have a specific goal in mind.

Later in the day I was playing with Ranger and before giving him a treat signed to him that is food. Ranger who was sitting facing me lifted his right paw in return. On the same principle that I would respond positively to a baby that babbled at me when I spoke to him I praised and rewarded Ranger.

When I was teaching my children to talk I ignored all the expert advice about only using one word for a thing until they were older. I used, cars, automobiles, autos, SUV, pickup, vehicular transport and anything else that occurred to me. I had toddlers with huge vocabularies. I'm likely to take the same sort of tack with Ranger. My goals at this point are to 1) establish the habit of signing to him, 2) begin associating labels with objects and 3) keep an open mind about how to proceed.

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