Belle’s signing helps us understand her when she’s tired, pronouncing things oddly, or just saying something unexpected. Done or all done makes a frequent appearance when she’s just over something.
It’s still an approximation – while the adult sign is clearly five spread fingers on each hand, palm out, with rotating wrists, Belle’s version could be fists, splayed hands, or a single hand, often at different levels, and with the only common feature being the rotating wrists. ASL signers use a repeated motion; Belle kind of starts the rotation as she brings her hands into position and ends it as she drops her hands, so there ends up being only one clear iteration. No matter – we catch it out of the corner of our eyes, understand, and model the full sign all done with a verbal “You’re all done?”
In the kitchen, spontaneously produced all done lets me know we need to move quickly to the next task or to distraction methods like water play. If it’s a recipe that holds well, or can freeze, maybe it’s time to make that call.
I can also elicit all done by creating questions with it as a possible answer – “are we done with the sugar? Are the cookies fully baked?” Functionally, it’s the stop/enough/no option in most “A or B” choices that have a positive/negative cast. Much like with more, creating an opportunity to use a reliably produced and understood sign can distract Belle from communication impasses/breakdowns.
In the dining room, we’re starting to sign with Belle’s brother Buddy. This is reinforcing the signs just as Belle becomes intelligible enough to drop them. It’s also working on her social-emotional skills as we ask her “Is Buddy all done with the bananas, or does he want more?” while signing all done banana, more. Answering that question requires a complex assessment of whether Buddy is crying or grunting with effort, whether he’s actively eating, and whether he’s looking at toys or the half a banana still on the table, and it keeps her engaged in the family meal.
Wondering how else we use ASL in the kitchen? I’ll be back with more signs as I catch them on camera!