Hearing Toddler Interprets for Deaf Dad Using American Sign Language
From first learning how to walk to achieving success in potty training, young children inevitably amaze their parents when they reach milestones in their lives. And each family has its own particular milestones that they look forward to seeing their youngsters hit. For deaf father, Zachary Lotane of Laguna Beach, California, who communicates only in American Sign Language (ASL), seeing his hearing one-year-old daughter interpret for him by signing was a huge one.
One day the little girl, who’s named Madison, was waddling down an aisle in a supermarket holding two packages of dish-washing sponges and suddenly dropped the packages. She then quickly showed her dad through ASL what she was concerned about, signing, “Baby crying.” She next pointed in the direction of the sound she heard, which her dad couldn’t hear. Zachary then repeated Madison’s gesture and asked her, “Baby crying?” as she crouched down to pick up the sponges she had dropped.
After this amazing episode was captured on video, Zachary posted it to his TikTok account under the name @oursignedworld. “She dropped what was in her hands, signed ‘Baby crying’ and pointed! This was a WOW moment,” the proud dad wrote in the caption.
Madison Astounds Worldwide Tik-Tok Users
Not only was it a “wow” moment for Zachary Latone, but it was also a heartwarming one for the many people who viewed the video. TikTok users around the globe were blown away by the sweetness and uniqueness of young Madison’s remarkable act.
Viewer reactions to Madison and Zachary’s video have been overwhelmingly positive:
- One user remarked, “Smart little girl. She’s learning two languages together, connecting the two languages as she interacts in her world. Super toddler!”
- Another commented, “This is truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.”
- A third noted, “What an empathetic and beautiful heart she has!”
With comments like this, it’s no surprise that the video has chalked up almost 38 million views and continues to amaze and impress viewers.
Madison Goes on Expanding Her Knowledge of American Sign Language
In a follow-up Tik-Tok post, Zachary highlighted Madison’s growing mastery of ASL, noting that she now signs in the language to let him know she needs a diaper change. Tik-Tok users keep marveling at her precocious signing skills:
- “I feel like [sign language gives children] so much more ability to communicate before they can even verbalize,” wrote one commenter, “so amazing.”
Clearly, the strong bond between this father and daughter needs no interpretation.
Madison has been Learning American Sign Language Since Birth
Even before she had uttered her first word, Madison Lotane, commonly known by her nickname “Madi,” could already convey most of her wishes and feelings through ASL. She first started “babbling” in ASL at the age of seven months. That’s because Zach and his wife Courtney have been teaching ASL to Madison since the day she was born. She already has an impressive vocabulary in sign language and is easily picking up both spoken English and ASL. Zach says that he really loves being Madi’s dad and is enthused about sharing his language with her and broadening her life to include all varieties of people.
“I enjoy reading books with her, watching her sign, feeding her. I love watching her grow,” the loving dad said.
Madison’s Family is Spreading American Sign Language to the Wider Community
Since first posting Madi’s amazing act of signing in the supermarket, the Lotane family has been extending their love of ASL and belief in tolerance and inclusivity to a wider audience. They’ve been sharing videos of their daily life, including teaching Madi how to sign while she’s learning to speak English. And their social media sites are bubbling over with excited viewers eager to get the latest news about the family and Madison’s progress.
For example, the couple’s well-liked TikTok page has more than two million devoted followers. And their videos of Madi learning about the world around her are inspiring others to envision big things for their own Deaf or Hard of Hearing youngsters. People are truly impressed to see ASL being used to effortlessly merge the deaf and hearing worlds.
Zach says, “My dream and hopes for Madison really are that she’ll be able to be successful in whatever she wants to do in life, that we’re able to give her all the tools to support her in her growth, and that she’ll have exposure to diversity, to different people. That she’ll be able to travel the world. I want her to be able to connect with different types of people, and also to accept herself.”
People are Being Inspired to Learn Sign Language
Zach says that the family’s social media posts have also motivated many users to start learning sign language. More and more of their followers are taking ASL classes at high schools, community colleges, and universities. In addition, the Lotanes are providing resources and support for hearing parents with Deaf children or Deaf infants.
Madison Lotane is well on her way to living a fully bilingual life, and she’s still just a toddler. Also, through their use of social media to spread the word about the great value of learning and using sign language, the Lotane family is increasing the public’s acceptance and inclusion of the Deaf community everywhere in the world.
Use Sign Language with Toddlers for Easier Communication
In line with the Lotanes’ approach to educating Madi, you can teach your infant or toddler to express their feelings, wishes, and needs without crying or whining through the use of sign language.
Most children begin to speak when they’re around 12 months old, but infants attempt to communicate with their parents at a much earlier age.
Potential Benefits of Using Sign Language with Toddlers
Possible benefits of very young children using sign language to communicate include the following:
- Earlier aptitude at understanding speech, especially from ages one to two
- Earlier use of speaking skills, mainly from one to two years of age
- Earlier use of proper sentence structure when speaking
- Less crying and whining to express desires or feelings
- Improved parent-child bonding
- Increase in IQ level.
Based on current research, most of the potential benefits young children gain when they learn to use sign language seem to even out after age three. Children three years of age and older who are taught sign language seem not to possess noticeably greater linguistic and cognitive skills than those who aren’t.
But it may still be worthwhile to sign with your child who’s over three for these reasons:
- Your child will be more easily able to convey their feelings and desires.
- It will be less difficult to know why your child is behaving the way they are since the child has another way to vent their wants and emotions.
- Making use of sign language might speed up your child’s progress in terms of language acquisition, literacy, and cognitive ability, but further studies are needed on this subject.
- Learning ASL provides your child with the chance to communicate with Dеаf or Hard of Hearing people in their own language. In the US alone, approximately 600,000 inhabitants (0.22% of the population) fall into this category.
What the Current Research Reveals
The good news from educational researchers is that using sign language with your young child has no disadvantages and may have several benefits. Many parents express a concern that signing might postpone their child’s ability to learn to speak. However, no research has ever found this to be the case, and some researchers even suggest the opposite to be true.
In short, learning ASL from an early age may help your сhild to sharpen their communication skills and progress in other areas like language acquisition as well.
Let us know what you think of this touching story in the comments.