From reflexes to motor control

Baby at this stage is gaining more control over her body than she did when she was younger. She is starting to move arms and legs more smoothly and with purpose. Baby may begin trying to bat at things with his hands.

Two weeks earlier Juli began to move her hand up and down, right-handed, especially when I interacted with her -- signing milk. Juli also brought her fist to the mouth.

This week, two month old baby Juli's movements were getting a bit more coordinated. She gradually gained some motor control with her hands. She sometimes scratched her face herself in the past, but now when she reached her face with her hands, this time the back of her hands were on her face instead.

Juli was an observer. What is to expect, I guess? After all, babies can't be too much mobile -- they don't crawl nor walk yet. Not that much they can do other than observing, I imagine.

Juli observed closely what adults were conversing. For example, at the end of her baby shower one day, everyone left and Juli was done feeding and stayed awake. She attentively watched me talking with others.

The other day I watched some ASL blogs online while feeding Juli. After feeding, Juli joined me watching with curiosity. Or, who knows she was watching something else. Maybe a color or a shape.

From time to time, Juli moved her hand/arm up and down repeatedly with an intentional look as if she wanted to express something. Could it be that she asked for "milk" or something else?

Besides this, every time she anxiously held her fist in her mouth, I knew she wanted milk.

One evening, Juli's father called me saying that the baby produced (or imitated) "milk". He showed me how she did. He demonstrated a movement of the thumb up and down. I grabbed the camera and rushed to the scene. Missed!

One needs to observe closely to catch a manual play other than different movements, reflexive or otherwise. It isn't always easy. Being a native signer of family, I naturally used my language instincts.

Video clip: It is a second round of ABCs. Juli appeared to be a bit restless, though patient, in the second round.

Now that Juli has increased her attention span and greater alartness, I sometimes fingerspelled a complete set of ABCs to her during play time. She watched with interest the transformation and diversity of the handshapes.

Talking routines

To help Juli familiarize with routines, I explained what we were doing.

At bedtimes, Juli waited patiently without fussiness or cries, giving me a limited time to brush teeth and to comb hair.

I went away briefly and came back with the comb. I signed mommy brush-hair now. When done, I signed mommy brush-hair finish/done. I went away briefly again and came back with a paste on the toothbrush. As I cleaned, I signed mommy teeth-brush now. As I finished, I signed mommy teeth-brush finish/done in ASL.

I did the same in the mornings. One morning as she slept, I went away to do grooming without informing her. She woke up and waited a bit. I didn't come sooner. Watching her from the doorway, she was about to cry. I quickly appeared.

Juli seemed to feel secure and/or comfortable knowing that I'd be always there by keeping her informed what to expect or when I'd be back. She might not know these ASL words, but she might understand these patterns.

This documentation project follows a baby's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, week by week from gazing at birth to manual babbling, to first words just before the first birthday in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.

The second-year and third-year documentation continues to follow the same child's language and phonological acquisition and literacy development in ASL on a weekly basis from the one-word stage to two-word and multiple utterances.

The documentary continues to follow the same child's ASL language and literacy development on a regular basis from age three to four. It surveys ASL phonological acquisition and more complex utterances.

These posts on ASL-English bilingualism, language acquisition, and bilingual education may be of an interest for parents who raise a bilingual-bimodal child in ASL (or another signed language) and English (or another written and/or spoken language of its respective) as well as informative and educational for ASL specialists, educators, and professionals.