Key Word Sign (KWS) is just one type of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) you might use with your child or that may be recommended by your speech pathologist. There is evidence that proves that using KWS with your child will not stop them from talking words if this is something they will be able to develop, but rather it builds their understanding of spoken words and may give them a way of communicating with others before more formalised language develops.
Hot tips for using KWS:
- Always speak when you are using KWS.
- Sign the important words in your message but speak the whole sentence.
- Continue to use natural facial expression and body language as these also carry important information about your message.
How many signs do I need to know to start using KWS?
- You already use natural gesture and other signs in your communication so there is no set number of signs to know before you can start.
- Your speech pathologist may recommend a small number of signs to keep it simpler and you should practice these as often as you can.
- Evidence tells us the best way to develop your KWS abilities is by using signs in everyday conversations.
How long will it take to for my child to start using the sign?
- We are unable to predict how and when your child will use KWS. It may be months before you notice any engagement.
- As with learning any new language, practice and exposure are key to engaging your child.
Please discuss with your speech pathologist how and when to start using KWS. Here is an example of Lauren using KWS with an infant while eating breakfast.