Preschooler talking about night dreams in sign language

The earliest dream Juli had was when she talked to herself in sign language. That was when she was about 10(?) months old. While she was napping, she signed Look, mama, mama.

Years later, the bilingual ASL-speaking preschooler Juli (age 3) replied mouse each time I asked her what she dreamed about the night before. Mouse? Again? It was as if she dreamed about the mouse every night.

One night (3;4) at bedtime, I asked Juli in ASL, "Did you dream last night?" She nodded. I asked, "What did you dream about?" Juli smiled, mouse! mouse poops ix-there(garage) bleeeah! bleeah! yeek!

For the next days, I was so interested in her dreams. I asked her. Mouse is all I heard the same every time I asked her. Again? Mouse every night? She casually nodded.

One time, she explained, "Two mice. One brown, one light pink. Both popped out of the grass over there in the backyard and disappeared in hide in the grass."

Later, finally something was a bit different. One day, she said that she was dreaming about a mouse and a dinosaur and she described how they walked by acting out. (video at 11:11)

One morning, I caught Juli (age 3;7) suddenly shaking while sleeping. I held around her to soothe and she woke up and sat up. I asked if she was scared? She replied, yes. I asked if it was a dream? She replied yes. Finally, she shared something different other than mice!

She signed, something fell-down and ix-me become-scared. She added as if the dreams were fragmentary that she could recall immediately, and horse cl-gallop-down-hill.. ix-me curled-down-on-surface. ix-me become-scared. something huge fell-down.

Talking with a leopard in dream

One day in August (age 3;7), Juli told me in ASL, before ix-me vocally-speak dots-on-body. I asked, dots-on-body what? She clarified tiger+dots-on-body (leopard).

I asked, spirit? She replied, no. I asked, where? She replied, "in house." I asked "spirit or real life"? She replied, "here in house."

I figured out, ah! you talked with leopard in this house? She nodded and added, (while) you gone(away) work. I nodded, "Hmm, in dream?" She replied, yes. I confirmed, you talked with leopard in your dream." She nodded, yes.

Since then, she usually talked about animals in her dreams, including horses, dinosaurs, and so on.

Night dream stories

As Juli approached age four, she had more various subjects in her dreams from her family members to animals (horse, etc) and sometimes no dream, she reported.

Those days in December, Juli described her dreams that her perspective was interesting. She usually told all in ASL as this way (translated as), "I woke up. I saw water in the main floor. Jazmine and I came downstairs and swam together. (And so on.) Then I went back to bed and fell asleep."

Her description of "waking up and then later falling asleep" must be the beginning and ending of her REM. That is, she woke up and then later fell asleep during her dream.

At age 4, Juli told me about her dreams almost every morning. She'd talk about more various beyond animals. She'd talk about how she got to eat a candy in her dream, played with a cat, etc.

At one point (age 4;9), she woke up one morning and told me, DREAM TOOK-ME IX-AROUND THEN DROP-ME-OFF YOUR HOUSE. Later at night, I retold her about what she signed that morning. She replied, "NO NO, ME NOT DREAM ABOUT THAT!" Yes, I knew that wasn't about the dream. It's interesting how she thought I misunderstood and tried to clarify.

Language development

Some of the following examples that Juli had uttered in American Sign Language during this month in August: remember, and some more.

Juli fondly recalled remember horse two-us.. ix-me will bring/give horse carrot next time. horse want share. rabbit eat.. rabbit eat carrot; horse want share rabbit('s) carrot. She was horse-riding that summer.

One morning, Juli got off the car. She told me in ASL (translated as), "Look, moon!" I looked up and nodded, "It's half moon." She signed, ix-moon will turn-round! (translated as "It'll become round"). I was surprised and pleased.

As she and I walked down the sidewalk toward her preschool, she turned to me, signing hey, why ix-moon in morning? (That is, "Why is there a moon in the daytime?") I was even surprised. This was one of my most favorite moments.

Another day, she was measuring her height against the wall with her height marks. She was checking how much she was growing up. She wanted to grow up in order to able to get a candy high in the cabinet. She told me, that why ix-me can get....

Related posts

Also see Age 3: Literacy in sign language.

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.