In a bid to make parents aware they must teach their kids sign language, a woman from Parkton, Maryland, posted a picture on social media of her son sitting with a Santa Claus, making the "help" sign.

Kerry Spencer said the picture was taken at Provo Town Center Mall in Provo, Utah, when her son, Samuel Spencer, was one year old. Samuel is now 13.

Spencer had been sharing the picture every year on Facebook, but on the advice of author friend Mette Harrison she decided to tweet the picture this time around.

To her surprise, users took to the post and it was retweeted more than 6500 times and gained more than 25,000 likes at the time of writing.

According to a report in Fox affiliate KDVR, Spencer said, “We taught our baby sign language. This is the sign for “help.” You’re welcome.”

Explaining the sign her son made, Spencer said, “In baby sign you go with what they do. We showed him the American Sign Language (ASL) version and this is what he did."

When some users pointed out that the sign the toddler was making wasn't exactly the "help" sign, Spencer defended it, saying it was a different variation of ASL.

“It’s ASL baby sign, so he is slightly “mispronouncing” the word, but it is the sign he always made when he needed help,” she responded.

Another Twitter user posted a picture and wrote, “This is how I signed help.”

Baby sign language (BSL) is the use of manual signing that allows infants and toddlers to communicate before speaking out.

BSL has three major benefits:

  1. Practical: The child makes less fuss and it is more fun for the child to communicate easily.
  2. Emotional: BSL helps to create close bonding between the parent and the child.
  3. Cognitive: BSL boosts brain development and also helps in the long run for better understanding.

BSL also helps to improve self-esteem for both the parent and the child.

According to a report in the Psych Central, a research conducted by ASL interpreter Joseph Garcia showed that infants who are exposed to signs “regularly and consistently” at the age of six to seven months are able to use the signs effectively by the time they are eight to nine months old.

The report also explained that apart from ASL, Makaton is another system of sign language which consists of commonly used “key words,” manual signs and gestures.

It affirmed that the sign language helps in boosting communication and provides a “bridge to the spoken word.”

The report also focused on providing few tips on teaching sign language to babies.

  1. Teaching sign language should be started right when the infant is between six to eight months old.
  2. Along with the sign, the word for which it is used should be spoken aloud and there should be an eye contact with the child. It will become easy to teach if the signs are linked to objects, like a “ball.”
  3. The signs must be repeated on a regular basis so that the child remembers it.