Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education

Submission Type



Leala Holcomb


The author, who is of multigenerational Deaf heritage, provides a review of the literature on spoken and signed rhyme, rhythm, and phonological awareness used with young children. While a foundation of knowledge has been built with early language approaches in spoken language, little is known about parallel forms of these approaches in American Sign Language (ASL). ASL rhyme, rhythm, and phonological awareness have historically been absent from early childhood classrooms that serve Deaf children. The author explores why this is the case and draws upon historical events to provide answers. An autoethnographic account of the author’s experience with early language approaches as a Deaf child, adult, and early childhood educator is shared. Some directions for future research include examining the effectiveness of ASL rhyme, rhythm, and phonological awareness in improving language and literacy outcomes.