Over the summer I trained in Lámh and I am raving about it.  Lámh is a manual sign system used by children and adults with intellectual disabilities and communication needs in Ireland.

Communication Support

Children and adults with intellectual disabilities can have problems understanding and learning words, and putting those words into sentences. Some may have difficulty with being understood by others.  This can restrict their ability to express their wants and needs, exchange information or have meaningful social interaction with others.  Without support, this can lead to frustration which may end up (at times) being expressed in challenging behaviour.

What is Lámh?

Lámh is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) method. AAC is the term used to describe an intervention that supports speech, language or general communication, or that becomes the main method of communication if speech does not develop. Lámh falls into the category of an unaided AAC. I love that it doesn’t require a phone, tablet or cards – it’s no-tech!  Currently, there are over 500 Lámh signs.

Is it sign language?

Some signs are based on or adapted from Irish Sign Language (ISL) but there are differences. Unlike ISL, with Lámh only keywords in a sentence are signed and speech is always used. Some signs are based on natural gestures and can be very intuitive. Signing encourages people to naturally slow down a little, which gives more time for others to work out the meaning.

Who can use Lámh?

Everyone can use it! It is endorsed by the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists and Down Syndrome Ireland. Use of Lámh usually beings at home with a small number of signs that can be used in as many situations. The whole family learns the signs and uses them consistently with speech. As time goes on, more signs/words are added.

With an increasing number of children with disabilities attending mainstream school, Lámh is an excellent tool to help with integration and communication. The entire school can learn the signs and use them, along with the teachers, SNAs and other staff. When everyone is signing, there is no sense of difference. 

Lámh can be used in Gaelscoileanna and is an excellent way to help with learning another language.

How can I Learn More?

A great place to start is Lámh’s Facebook page. They have videos showing some Lámh signs. They have training courses available – some of which are held online.  If your child struggles with communication then talk to your speech and language therapist or other support about arranging an assessment to help decide if Lámh might be a useful communication tool.

If your child or student is struggling at school, talk to us about how we can help. Contact us on 087 2996065 or elaine@hummingbirdlearning.com www.hummingbirdlearning.com. In addition to our core 10 session programs, we also have a 4 session one-to-one Study Skills Program called Study Success for second and third-level students. Call now for more information.

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