The two month old baby Juli began to communicate non-verbally more through body language beyond cries that I could recognize the nuances of her nonverbal communication and body language.
For example, every time Juli sneezed, we told her health in ASL since she was born, not a miss.
Now whenever I sneezed while Juli was busily feeding, she responded to my sneeze. She suddenly stopped feeding and turned to look at me with her distinct, unforgettable look with some kind of a smile. How can I describe it in words?
Her hands, facial expression, and eyes reflected as if she was telling me "Health", "Look, you sneeze too!", or some equivalent. There was a language of its own in her mind.
Video clip: "Mom has just sneezed. Healthy, yes. Thank you." Captured immediately after my sneeze but her initial response was not captured on video. Capturing an actual moment is often a challenge in candid photography and videography.
A couple of weeks later (m4w2), Juli was feeding while I had another sneeze. This time I was curious as to how Juli would respond. She suddenly stopped feeding and looked at me and smiled with acknowledgement in her eyes. She had her own way of expressing it.
Though from this on, Juli more or less ignored my sneezes when feeding as she got accustomed to them.
Video clip (English translation): "I'm Angela (signed name). Nice to meet you. .. Ok, shall we be friends? I may come and visit you sometimes, ok? Be good girl. Sleep tonight, ok? Oh, cute nice smile you've got. Time to sleep, you're tired, aren't you? No? Happy to see me?"
An interesting part of the video clip is that the moment Angela told Juli, "You have a nice smile," Juli broke into a smile. How did that happen?
Every tiny bit of this conversation has a meaning from saccadic gaze to eye blink. There needs to be more research on the linguistic aspect of this behavior.
Another example, to help Juli at ease with my short disappearance, I signed wait, one-moment (one of the ASL words I frequently used) immediately before I left. Juli seemed to become accustomed to this routine.
First I explained to Juli where or why I was going and then signed wait and/or one-moment before I left for a brief time. She usually didn't cry until I came back within a reasonable time frame.
Juli seemed to learn this association of my brief disappearance with a trust that I'd return.
Video clip: Juli sometimes suddenly pushed away from feeding and gave me a distinct certain look, "Look, I'm listening. Talk to me!"
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.