Jude's been learning sign language, thanks to his mom and a class she takes him to each week. His favorite signs are for "fan," "hat," and "more." I think "fan" was the first one he really did well. He learned "more" pretty soon after that. He picked up "hat" after Grandpa Burga put a hat on him for some photos.
Charline figured out that Jude also started using "hat" to mean something like "let's play" -- because we always played with the hat for a while when he used his sign. "More" also has a broader meaning, because he uses it to say "food" or "let's eat". That makes good sense, because he mainly saw us using the sign when he was eating. Of course, we're trying to show him the sign for "eat" too, but as long as we understand him, we're not too worried about which sign he uses.
It really was exciting for Jude, and for Charline and me, when he started using his signs. We could see how happy he was every time he communicated with someone. It seemed to really open up a new world for him.
Even before he used any sign language, he showed that same excitement over the ability to point at things. He discovered that people could understand that he wanted to play with something or see something up close, or that he just liked something. The other communication step that he really enjoyed was learning to clap his hands. He saw how people laughed and smiled when he did that -- and that made him laugh too.
Now that I think about it, I suppose smiling and laughing was one of the earliest steps in learning that he could communicate with people. He's very good at smiling and laughing. Probably better than anyone I know.