Questions and Answers

Here we have gathered some of all the questions that we have received during the past years in Project TAKK for the language. 

The persons that have helped us with answering the questions are the following. 

Luz Solano

Project manager for TAKK for the language 
File. Mag. Special Education 
Executive manager MiM Learning Center 
(MiM Kunskapscentrum)

Eva-Kristina Salameh

Leg speech therapist, PhD 
Speech Therapy Clinic 
Språkens Hus
Skåne University Hospital
(Skånes Universitets Sjukhus)

Britt Cleasson

AKK educator, 
Dart Communications and Data Resource center
(Dart Kommunikation och Data Resurscentrer)

Marie Jakobsson 

Development Manager 
Education Department 
Center for School development
(centrum för skolutveckling)

Will my child never start to speak if I start with AAC and signs as AAC?

Using AAC and signs as AAC does not prevent in any way the child from starting to use spoken language. Instead it helps the child by using AAC and signs as AAC it launches   language development. The child not only hears spoken language through the ears but also get additional support by looking at pictures, signs and other ways to express themselves. If your child has the ability to learn the spoken language it will do this, but by using AAC and signs as ACC you facilitate the language development for the child so that it can both understand and communicate with the outside world. This can be said to be a basis for the development of spoken language.

Will my child be confused by both signs and speech in two languages?

Our brain is designed to handle a multitude of languages, and research has shown that this also applies to multilingual children with severe disabilities.  Multilingual children distribute or disseminate their vocabulary over two or more languages, and it is therefore important that vocabulary may grow even in the mother tongue. You may need to use different words/signs in their different languages because they are spoken/used in different contexts.

I have used Swedish signs and spoken our mother tongue for several months but my child only speaks Swedish back to me. Will he/she learn our mother tongue eventually?

All children need to hear their languages as often as possible to learn them. You do notice that your child understands what you're saying in the mother tongue and that it self shows that language evolves. Continue to sign and talk your mother tongue and use it together with the child in a playful way (through songs, rhymes and stories). Encourage the child to sometimes say what he or she wants in multiple languages and also show that you appreciate when the child uses mother tongue!

Can you use the same signs in two different languages?

Certainly, even if the sign language can differ in different countries, it is excellent to use Swedish signs for the child’s different languages. It is in Sweden the child communicates with its environment. Just remember that if you as a parent or other family member learn the Swedish signs, you should say it out aloud in your own language. 

I have learned signs in Swedish, by saying them aloud in Swedish but have read now that you can use Swedish signs and say your own mother tongue out aloud. The problem is that I find it hard to speak my mother tongue together with the Swedish signs! What should I do?

It is easier to learn how to use Swedish signs along with the mother tongue if you are allowed to use the mother tongue from the very start. But it is absolutely possible to begin using your mother tongue together with the Swedish sign even in retrospect. Think and say out aloud first in your mother tongue the sentences or words that you want to show with signs. Then you know what to show and can then add Swedish signs to what you want to say. Start with a few words at a time and do it every day, after a while you will be able to choose which language you want to use your Swedish sign in!

Why are signs easier to understand and use than the spoken language? 

Signs use other channels than speech. The signs are perceived with the view and are expressed with the hands and the body. By supplementing the signing with speaking it makes the process more clear.  

  • Signs require less fine motor skills
  • is more specific and clarifies the spoken language
  • Makes the adults speak clearer
  • Increases concentration

My child throws the pictures I show him. What should I do for him to become interested in the pictures?

The child will show interest when you and the rest of the family use images to tell things to each other. In exactly the same way as the child becomes interested in the spoken language that the family uses, the child becomes interested in signs, pictures, or other communications that you use in your home. Put up the images or image maps where ever you need them (in the living room, hallway or bathroom) and point to the pictures when you talk with your child about what it should do but also when you want to tell the child what you have done or intend to do. 

What should I do if the child is already using its own signs?

That the child is using its own signs indicates that the child is in contact and communicates with his or hers surroundings. Confirm that you have understood what the child wants and show at the same time the correct sign. This is important if the child will use signs as AAC in the future and then meet others that are using signs as AAC. It will be difficult for the child if it then uses other signs.

Why is my child throwing the pictures? 

Children need time to learn and an environment that shows how to do it. When a child gets images or communication-maps, it is difficult for the child to know what to do with them. The child might throw, flap, bit or begins to look at the images. Only when the parents and staff point to and use the images in natural situations the child can begin to understand how to communicate with them. Examples of situations are to start by pointing at the communication-map in playful situations, when someone talks about something you experienced or when you are getting dressed.

Should you talk at the same time as you speak? 

Yes, the sign should be an aid to what you say, a way to complement your speech. If your child hears, it is important that as far as it is possible to communicate the same way as with others. At the same time, it is a help for the child to both hear and see what you say. 

Why doesn´t my child sign, I have been using signs for several weeks now?

It takes time to learn a language; therefore it may take a long time for a child before they themselves start to sign.  Start by using signs and do it in a natural situation such as for example by saying THANK YOU every time you eat. First and foremost the child must acknowledge that you're doing something and then find out that you do the same thing every time, and then perhaps the child will begin to imitate the sign. At the start, the child might not sign exactly the same way as you, but good enough for you to understand each other.

Are all students in undergraduate programs entitled mother tongue lessons and study guide? 

According to school regulation Chapter 5 paragraph 4 resp. 7 all students regardless of school type right to mother tongue lessons and study guide on mother tongue.  School regulation 2011: 185

Are all students in secondary school entitled to mother tongue lessons and study guide? 

According to the secondary regulation chapter 4 paragraph 14, all students are entitled to mother tongue and in Chapter 9 paragraph 9 all the students have the right to study guide in their mother tongue. Secondary regulation 2010: 2039