Clearly there are learner variables. And, yes, some children/persons have extensive damage to their nervous system, which makes learning new skills more difficult, and in some cases, extremely difficult! However, the overwhelming majority of non-vocal children/persons with intellectual disabilities can learn to communicate functionally…. And, it’s never too late to begin teaching them!
If sign language is taught correctly, and with the proper intensity, even a child or adult with a profound intellectual disability and/or motor imitation difficulties, can learn to sign. Way too many children like Waleed have no functional communication skills. In other words, they cannot even ask for a glass of water when they are thirsty…..That simply shouldn’t be!
Watch a video clip of Tom and Waleed’s classmates at a school in Egypt helping him learn to request some of his favorite actions for the first time: