From subtle to very obvious, the signs that indicate a child has autism vary per child. As it is often difficult to diagnose autism before the age of 3, many parents are left wondering whether their child’s behavior is a sign of a developmental disorder. Before a diagnosis can be accurately determined, one step that parents can take is to incorporate Baby Sign Language into their lives, either at home or under the guidance of a professional. Baby Sign Language allows verbal and non-verbal children to be able initiate conversation with others in a more comfortable medium—through the same hands they use to explore, play, and eat. Children with autism who learn Sign Language are offered a way to express themselves, and because it also reinforces their efforts to engage in socializing with others, many parents and early childhood educators are turning to Baby Sign Language to make a difference. By learning how to sign basic words, babies are not only able to express their needs, but can also learn how to interact in socially appropriate ways—such as making eye contact, engaging in appropriate play activities, and interacting and communicating with others. The introduction of Baby Sign Language into the home allows parents to form lasting bonds with their children, especially if their children can benefit from improved communication channels.
Etel Leit, MS is an internationally recognized leader in the field of signing with babies and young children. Etel is the owner and founder of SignShine, the largest parenting and signing center for hearing children in Southern California, and the publisher of BabySignShine.com, an internationally known signing and parenting resource for families, educators, therapists and new signing instructors all over the world. She counts many TV and film celebrities among her clients.
Etel teaches in the Masters Programs at University of Southern California. She also presents in national conferences on communication with children with autism and other developmental delays.
She is fluent in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Sign Language and has served in the Israeli intelligence service
An expert in signing and parenting, Etel has contributed numerous articles on signing and parenting to print and online publications, has been widely profiled by the media and has been an invited guest on numerous television shows, including NBC Brian Williams Evening News, KTLA Morning Show, Fox 11 Morning Show among others.
Etel is the parent of two hearing children and has seen first-hand the miraculous effects of signing and the many benefits of joyful parenting.