Some children experience challenges with social communication and interaction. This involves understanding how to communicate functionally with others either verbally (for example vocalising or speaking) or non verbally (for example using gesture, pointing or signing). Children with these types of challenges may have difficulties such as:
- Sharing and maintaining attention with another person
- Knowing how close to stand to someone
- Interpreting another person’s facial expressions, tone of voice, gesture or body language
- Communicating for different reasons verbally or non-verbally, for example making requests, sharing interests, greeting people
- Having a conversation- for example difficulties taking turns, interrupting, maintaining the topic
- Taking things literally
The following information may be useful to focus on:
Getting your child’s attention
- Developing early interaction
- Follow your child’s lead
- Developing anticipation
Creating opportunities to communicate
- Creating communication opportunities
- Means Reasons Opportunities
Using visual support
- Objects of reference
- Photos of reference
- Visual support advice and ideas
Developing communication skills
- Developing intentional communication
- Verbal scripts
Some children demonstrating social communication challenges have Autism. If you feel your child is demonstrating these difficulties, you can discuss your concerns with us or your child’s educational setting or GP. The National Autistic Society is a great source of advice and guidance.
Using fun games and activities that encourages your child to interact with others will help to increase the opportunities for them to learn language, as well as develop their social and interaction skills. Below are some ideas of simple games that you can play with your child to promote early interaction and develop their skills in listening and anticipation. Remember to keep these interactions fun. Always create a positive experience and follow their lead – if your child is ready to stop, then it’s time to stop.
Early interaction games
- Peek-a-boo: Put a blanket or soft sheet over your child’s face and as ‘”Where’s (name)?” Then quickly pull the blanket away and say “there s/he is!” or “peek-a-boo!” Try to wait a little longer each time before pulling the blanket away to increase their attention. Try putting the blanket over your face and have your child pull it away to find you instead.
- Tickle Game: Hold out your hands and look expectantly and say “tickles” before tickling your child. Leave your hands out a little longer each time before tickling your child to encourage them to wait and anticipate what is coming.
- Bubbles: Blow some bubbles up in to the air then hold out the bubble wand and wait for your child to look or show they want some more. Wait a little longer each time before blowing the bubbles to encourage longer attention. Ask “more?” and see if your child will copy the word or gesture they want the activity again.
- Balloons: Blow up a balloon and hold it out and wait for your child to look before letting it go. Wait a little longer each time to encourage attention. If your child is very motivated when you blow up the balloon, blow in a small amount of air only and ask “more?”. Wait for your child to show you that they want you to blow more before carrying on.
- Wind Up Toys: Wind up the toy and hold it out and wait for the child to look or show you they want the toy to go. Wait a little longer each time you play. If the child is really motivated, only wind the toy a small amount then wait to see if they will ask you to wind more. This game also works well with squeeze toys, jack in the box or spinning tops.
- Singing: Sing familiar rhymes with actions such as ‘Wind the Bobbin’, ‘Row Your Boat’ or ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Leave gaps in the songs and see if you child will show you they want more of the song or even fill in the missing word/action. You can also sing songs that have an action that your child can anticipate e.g. “we all fall down!” in ‘Ring around the Roses’. Wait a little longer each time before saying ‘down’ to encourage attention and anticipation.
- Use comments rather than questions to model language
- Use simple short phrases of only 1 or 2 words
- Your child may only play for a very short time at first but keep trying!
- Be face to face and at the same level as your child
- Offer simple choices during play by holding up real objects e.g. “Ball or Bubbles?”
- Use the same words each time you play
In the early stages it will help the child to engage with us, when we follow what they are interested in rather than trying to get them to do what we want…so we therefore need to follow the child’s lead.
It is important to observe your child and find out what they are interested in and then play alongside them. You might want to have a limited range of high interest activities out.
Your child will start to take more notice of you when you:
- Copy sounds that he/ she makes- this will encourage him/her to make the sounds more
- Copy actions that your child makes- he/she may then do the action to see if you copy them as they become more aware of you
- Use wow words such as: “uh oh, wow, oops a daisy, oh no, oh dear, whoops”- make sure that you keep your voice interesting using pitch (high/ low) and volume (loud/ quiet) to hold their attention.
- Comment on what your child is doing…… if they are pouring from a jug in water play, you say “pour….pour….pour” as they do it. If they are banging blocks you say “ bang…bang…bang” to add language
- Use a set of toys that is the same as your child so you can copy their actions and use a word. You can then do something different with the toy to extend their play, for example:
- If they are banging blocks- you copy and then stack your blocks and say “up… up… up”
- If they are pushing a car- you copy them and then make your car crash and say “crash…crash”
If your child moves to a new activity, then you follow and use the same strategies in the new activity
As your child becomes more tolerant of you playing alongside him/her and is attending for longer, you can start to join in and then begin to take turns.
Why is this important?
Developing anticipation is important as once a child demonstrates this skill they will then move onto more intentional communication. We develop anticipation through the use of play routines that are short, repetitive and consistent, for example, always the same, so that the child learns what to expect next in the play routine, an example is “ready…steady….”. Using short activities repetitively and then leaving gaps in the same place every time, will enable the child to start to remember what happens next, and react before it actually happens. When they do this we know that they are anticipating.
To begin with, the best times to develop anticipation are when you engage in “People games” with your child. These are games that you play together without toys. Almost all children love physical activities – to be chased, tickled or thrown in the air. When you and your child have fun together without toys, interaction becomes easier and there are more opportunities for communication.
It’s easy for your child to attend to people game because:
- They are structured and predictable
- They have repetitive actions, sounds and word
- They are fun and exciting for your child. Motivating him to keep the game going
Use the four letters of R.O.C.K. to help you remember the most important things you must do when you play People Games with your child:
- Repeat what you say and do
- When you start the game
- When you play the game
- When you end the game
- Repeat the game often and with different people
- Offer opportunities for your child to take his turn
- Plan when you will offer your child a turn
- Plan what turns your child can take
- Offer new opportunities for turns as your child progresses
- Cue your child to take his turn
- Give explicit cues when your child doesn’t know how to take his turn
- Give natural cues once your child is familiar with the game
- Keep it fun! Keep it going!
- Be lively and animated
- Make the interaction last as long as possible
Examples of People Games:
- Horsey Ride
- One, Two, Three – Swing! Between two people
- Round and round the garden
Example of motivating activities with object:
- Swing, roundabout, slide
- Spinning top
- Jumping tubes
- Trampoline/Gym ball
- Water/sand play
- Music toys
- Light up toys
- Vibrating toys
- Textured materials
When your child is anticipating in People games you can move onto using everyday routines.
Children learn to link and anticipate activities through repetition, for example if they cry they will get a cuddle, if they hear the taps going on they know they are having a bath, when their shoes appear they are going out!
Your child doesn’t need to understand any words to work out what is happening. You can help by consistently repeating routines and talking about what you are doing, which lets your child hear all the words that go with the daily routines.
The repetition of these sequences will help to develop you child’s understanding and help them begin to anticipate familiar events.
Think of routines that happen regularly in your home, for example, running the bath, sitting in highchair waiting for dinner, brushing teeth, getting dressed. These routines happen the same way every time…this means that just as in People games, your child can be included in the routine and will start to develop a memory for what happens next.
- Include your child from the start
- Comment on what is happening at each stage using the SAME language every time, for example, at bath-time…
- “We need to put in the...plug”
- “Now we need to turn on the…tap”
- If you do this with your child every time, eventually they will start to learn the language in the routine and you can start to leave gaps in the same place every time, for example:
- We need to put in the ...
- Now we need to turn on the…
Your child is likely to start to show you that they know what is going to happen next, they have built up a memory for the routine and will be anticipating.
- We often know what our children want without asking them. Offering a choice of two
- things gives them the opportunity to communicate with you.
- Your child does not have to know the name of the thing they want: They can look at it,
- reach towards it or point to it.
- It can show them the power of communicating with you and may reduce frustration.
- When you offer a choice, you are teaching the names of the things you are offering.
- Begin by offering a choice of something your child really likes and something that isn’t so interesting for them.
- Hold up both items and name them, by asking ‘do you want bubbles or book?’ Point to or hold out the item as you say it. If your child does not respond, ask again.
- Always give your child the option that they choose. If they become upset, they are able to change their mind. Offer them the choice again.
- Once your child is able to indicate to you which item they want, change how the choice is presented by alternating which hand you hold the objects in. This will ensure that they are looking at both options and communicating a meaningful choice to you.
- The aim is for your child to become a more active communicator so accept their choice when they point or gesture. Repeat the word to them as they make their choice.
- Adult: Do you want to eat the banana or the grapes? (show objects)
- Child: Points to banana
- Adult: Banana? Let’s eat banana.
You can offer choices throughout the day, for example with food, drink, games, when getting dressed (e.g. ‘put on sock or trousers?) in the bath (‘wash foot or face?’). Offering choices will give your child the reasons to communicate with you.
When carrying out the activities below, remember ‘OWL’ (Observe, Wait and Listen)
- OBSERVE – watch what your child is trying to tell you. They may be reaching, looking or pointing
- WAIT – Count to 10 in your head before ‘stepping in’. Look expectantly at them
- LISTEN – Listen to what they are trying to say - They may be doing this by reaching, looking, pointing or making a sound
Avoid the ‘Helper role’ - Wait and see what the child will do – don’t jump in too quickly. If they need help with something, this is a good opportunity for them to ask you or help.
- Try not to ask too many questions. Instead, make comments to start the conversation.
- Do join in with their play and do take time to explore and learn from what they are doing
- Keep your sentences simple: Talk in short sentences that are similar in length to your child’s.
- Adapt the activities below so you can incorporate them into your everyday activities.
- Start by giving them an easy choice (something you know they like and something you know they do not like)
- Hold up the objects so that they can see them
- Use the words, e.g. ‘Do you want the broccoli or the car?’
- When they become good at indicating their choice, make the choice harder, e.g. ‘Do you want the car or the train?
- Offer a choice, then wait.
Place items out of reach, but in view
- Place their favourite toy on a shelf and wait for them to respond
- Put their toy in a transparent jar/box that they cannot open and wait for them to respond
Use ‘people-toys’ (toys that they need help with)
- E.g. wind up toys, bubbles, balloons, jack in a box, spinning tops, music boxes
- Give them time to try to work the toys themselves and wait for them to respond
- If they do not ask for help, ask them ‘Help?’ and wait again.
- If they still do not respond, take the toy and say ‘help’ again.
Create your own ‘people toys’ too
- Put a silly hat on you head and get them to pull it off several times. Then, become harder to reach and wait for them to respond.
- Use taps – turn the water on and off several times and splash
- them. Then turn the tap off and wait.
- Use mirrors – play peekaboo several times and ‘appear’ in the mirror, then wait
Offer items bit by bit
- Give them a small amount of something, e.g. one piece of jigsaw, one brick, one crisp, one piece of traintrack, then wait for them to respond.
Give all but one item
- Hold an item out of reach but in sight, and wait
- e.g. Give the bubble wand, but not the bubbles.
- Give the scissors but not the paper.
- Give the pencil but not the paper.
- Give the cup but not the drink etc.
Try not to anticipate their needs and wants
- Wait and watch to give them the opportunity to indicate them to you, e.g. by pointing, saying something, getting your attention.
Pause a familiar activity or routine
- e.g. When pushing them on a swing, catch the swing to stop it, and wait.
- Sing a familiar action song. Then pause, and wait.
- Tickle them, and then pause and wait.
While playing with them, suddenly stop and look away.
- e.g. This will encourage them to get your attention to continue playing the game.
Hide items in unexpected places
- e.g. Put their favourite toy in their bed
- Put a spoon in their shoe etc, and wait to see if they will comment
- Look at books. Point at some items and name them. Then point at something else, and wait for a response.
- Look out of the window and show excitement at what you see. Say ‘Look a truck!”. Then point at something else exciting and wait.
- Unpack shopping/take items out of a bag. Take great interest in each object and name each one. Then take out the next item and wait for a response.
Offer something different
- Give them the wrong item and wait for a response, e.g. wrong jigsaw piece, wrong fruit, the wrong shoe.
Surprise them with smell
- Let them smell something they like but can’t see. You get excited and comment on it, e.g. ‘Yummy pizza!’ Present the smell again, and wait for a response.
Surprise them with touch
- Place their hand in different substances. Each time get excited and describe the feeling, e.g. ‘wet’, ‘hot’. Then do the same thing, and wait for a response.
Use ‘creative stupidity’
- Make accidental ‘mistakes’, e.g. forget to put on their shoes, and wait
- Make something go wrong, e.g. drop your fork, and wait.
- Use times when things go wrong by commenting on them rather than sorting it out, e.g. if the dinner is too hot, don’t take it away, but blow on it, make a comment on it. They may want to copy you.
Change a familiar activity or routine
- e.g. Sing a familiar action song, but change the words, or do a different action. Then pause, and wait (The surprise may cause them to comment!)
Pretend you don’t know where things are
- If they request something. Like a toy, exaggerate distress at not being able to find it. Wait for them to react with a comment.
Pretend something is broken
- Put the key in the door the wrong way and say ‘uh oh, key is broken’. Repeat this again, and wait.
Pretend you are ‘broken’
- Pretend you can’t see or hear something that they have noticed, and wait for them to let you know about it
- e.g. The doorbell ringing, a new item in the room.
- Puppets - Use puppets/stuffed animals. Hide the toy and then make it appear. Make it wave and say ‘hello’. Then make it re-appear and wait for a response.
- Waving through the window - Stand and wave at everything exciting that comes past and say ‘hello’. Then point to the next thing that comes past, and wait.
- Making refusals - Give them the opportunity to say ‘no’
- Offer them their least favourite toy/food, and wait. You may want to put their desired item in view.
- Keep on going! - Let them end the activity – continue with it until they say no. You could tempt them to move onto something different by putting something else in view.
- More Than Words (Fern Sussman)
- It takes two to talk (Pepper and Weitzman)
- Learning Language and Loving it (Weitzman and Greenberg)
Children and babies learn to communicate when they have a means, a way, of communicating, opportunities to communicate and reasons to communicate. They also need adults who are responsive to how they communicate.
- Interpret what your child is trying to communicate – they may use words, sounds, pointing, gesture, facial expression. They may take you to what they want.
- Model: show your child the words/signs/symbols they could use in a situation to communicate what they want to say e.g. your child points to the cup, adult says ‘drink’.
- Provide choices: Hold up 2 objects and say do you want X or Y. Start with easy choices; something that you know they are not interested in and something highly motivating. Progress to 2 motivating objects when your child is ready.
- Motivators: identify the things that motivates your child – food, toys, activities, songs
- Don’t always anticipate their wants/needs. Instead use these opportunities to model language and support them in communicating their own wants and need
- You may create more reasons by:
- Placing motivators in hard to reach places so they have to ask for adult help
- Give them only a small part at a time to support them in asking/signing for ‘more’ e.g. one crisp at a time, one building block, one blow of bubbles.
- Respond to your child’s communication and use these opportunities to model language that is useful for them. Increase their reasons to communicate.
- This may be when:
- They communicate what they want or need ‘juice’ ‘toilet’
- They see something they are interest in ‘look!’
- They want to comment e.g. ‘uhoh’, ‘wow!’
- Use people toys – e.g. wind up toys, bubbles, balloons, jack in a box, spinning tops, music boxes, battery operated toys, etc. Give them time to try to work the toys themselves and wait for them to respond
- Pause during familiar activities/routines:
- E.g. When pushing them on a swing, catch the swing to stop it, and wait
- Sing a familiar action song. Then pause, and wait.
- Tickle them, and then pause and wait.
A photo of reference is a photograph that has a particular meaning. It is used to refer to a person, object, location or event. In order for children to develop their understanding and use of photos of reference they must first understand and the meaning of objects of reference.
Photos of reference can represent:
- activities e.g. a drink is represented by a photo of the child drinking, lunch is represented by a photo of the child eating, swimming is represented by a photo of the child swimming
- places e.g. home is represented by photo of the child’s home, bedroom is represented by a photo of the child’s bedroom, sensory room is represented by a picture of the sensory room
- people e.g. Photos for family members, friends, teaching staff, etc.
The aim of using photos of reference is to:
- aid memory (We all use things to aid our memory – diaries, lists, timetables etc. and photos can act in the same way.
- aid understanding (We all need strategies to help us understand – such as writing something down, reading and re-reading. Photos give more information than a word or symbol or sign and so are easier to understand).
- enable anticipation of events as they enable children to become familiar with daily routines
- aid expression by enabling children to make choices or requests
Introducing photos of reference
- Select appropriate photos: The photos need to represent something that happens frequently so that the Child has more learning opportunities such as snack, nappy changing, going in the garden, going in the car, bath time, bed time, etc.
- The photos chosen should be kept in a place that is accessible to the child, so that they become familiar with the photos and have the opportunity to initiate. This may be a shelf or a bag or basket. The photos should remain in that place until they are used for communication. Some people take their bag of photos with them, wherever they go, and others may keep the photos at home and have duplicates at nursery.
- The Aim is to progress through the levels but bear in mind that some chuildren will not progress to the point where they are spontaneously communicating. The child may reach greater levels of independence with some photos and not others.
- Any interest by the child in the photos should be taken as have communicative intent. So if the child picks up a photo e.g. drink, then follow this immediately by making a drink.
- Do this even if you KNOW that the child would not normally choose this activity, as mistaken selection can provide a valuable learning experience.
- If the activity cannot be made available to the child, then the photo should not be accessible to them, as having access to the photo, but not the activity that accompanies it, will give the child inconsistent feedback and will be detrimental to the learning process.
Stages of development
- Level 1: The child is given the photo and is taken to the activity: Model the key word and lead the child to the activity e.g. nappy time and take them to the changing area.
- Level 2: The child is given the photo and will go to the activity with prompting: This may be physical prompting, gesture, verbal prompting or a combination of some or all of these. The aim would be to gradually fade out the prompts.
- Level 3: The child is given the photo and goes to the activity or demonstrates understating without prompting. A child able to do this shows that they have gained an understanding of the meaning that the photo has, but they are not yet at the level of initiating. They may look towards the activity or show excitement.
- Level 4: The child can select the appropriate photo from a range of photos to make a choice and go to the activity.
- Level 5: The child can select and use photos independently to make choices and express their needs and wants
Continued and consistent use of photos of reference will support the Child’s understanding, aid memory, provide a structure to their day.
An object of reference is an object or part of an object that has a particular meaning. It is used to refer to a person, object, location or event. For example, a ball might be associated with going outside or an arm band might represent swimming.
Objects of reference can represent:
- activities e.g.
- a drink is represented by a cup
- lunch is represented by a spoon
- swimming is represented by a swimming hat
- sensory room is represented by a fibro-optic strand.
- places e.g.
- home is represented by a key to the front door
- bedroom is represented by a herbal “sleep” pillow
- people e.g.
- a bracelet or perfume may be used to signify a particular person
The aim of using objects of reference is to:
- aid memory (We all use things to aid our memory – diaries, lists, timetables etc. and objects can act in the same way.
- aid understanding (We all need strategies to help us understand – such as writing something down, reading and re-reading. Objects give more information than a word or symbol or sign and so are easier to understand).
- enable anticipation of events as they enable children to become familiar with daily routines
- aid expression by enabling children to make choices or requests
Introducing Objects Of Reference
Select appropriate objects: The objects need to represent something that happens frequently so that the child has more learning opportunities such as snack, nappy changing, going in the garden, going in the car, bath time, bed time, etc.
The objects chosen should be kept in a place that is accessible to the child, so that they become familiar with the object and have the opportunity to initiate. This may be a shelf or a bag or basket. The objects should remain in that place until they are used for communication. Some people take their bag of objects with them, wherever they go, and others may keep the objects at home and have duplicates at nursery.
The aim is to progress through the levels but bear in mind that some children will not progress to the point where they are spontaneously communicating. The child may reach greater levels of independence with some objects and not others.
Any interest by the child in the object should be taken as have communicative intent. So if the child picks up the object e.g. a cup, then follow this immediately by making a drink (or whatever the cup represents). Do this even if you KNOW that the child would not normally choose this activity, as mistaken selection can provide a valuable learning experience.
If the activity cannot be made available to the child, then the object should not be accessible to them, as having access to the object, but not the activity that accompanies it, will give the child inconsistent feedback and will be detrimental to the learning process.
Stages of development
- Level 1: The child is given the object and is taken to the activity: Model the key word and lead the child to the activity e.g. nappy and take them to the changing area.
- Level 2: The child is given the object and will go to the activity with prompting: This may be physical prompting, gesture, verbal prompting or a combination of some or all of these. The aim would be to gradually fade out the prompts.
- Level 3: The child is given the object and goes to the activity or demonstrates understating without prompting. A child able to do this shows that they have gained an understanding of the meaning that the object has, but they are not yet at the level of initiating. They may look towards the activity or show excitement.
- Level 4: The child can select the appropriate object from a range of objects to make a choice and go to the activity.
- Level 5: The child can select and use objects independently to make choices and express their needs
Continued and consistent use of objects of reference will support the Child’s understanding, aid memory, provide a structure to their day.
Children often learn better through what they see. Visual supports help with attention, learning, retaining information, communication, and expression. A visual support is a permanent representation, without visual supports we have to rely on what we hear which is more difficult. Below are some ideas of how to use visual supports daily.
Visual supports can help to:
- Provide structure and routine whilst supporting understanding
- Manage transitions and move from one activity to another
- Reduce anxiety, as the child is helped to understand what is happening next.
- Build confidence and encourage independence.
- Provide opportunities to interact with others.
Symbols/photos are used to represent the tasks, activities or lessons and these are taught to the child. Symbols can be presented vertically or horizontally.
Use symbols/photos and make the timetable as long as the child can cope with e.g. just the morning, all day. When each activity has finished take the symbol/photo off the timetable and place it in a “finished” box so that the next activity will always be at the beginning and the child can see what is happening next.
You can build in unexpected activities, changes, surprises with a ‘whoops’, ‘special activity’ or ‘surprise’ card.
Now And Next
A ‘Now and Next’ board (or 'First and Then') is a board with the word 'now' on the left side, and the word 'next' on the right side. Use a symbol or picture for the task in the 'now' box, and a reward activity/toy in the 'next' box. This can support motivation to complete adult led activities and shows them what is coming next.
Alternatively, use coloured boxes labelled with ‘Start’ and ‘finished’ to support transitions. Keep the boxes in a fixed location to place activities or items. Gradually build up to more activities e.g. task 1, task 2, reward, finished.
Use a choice-making board, with objects/ photos/symbols of the available options. Choices can be offered for activities, food, songs and people.
‘Traffic Lights’ can be used to support a child through changes for one activity to another. The amber card is the most important as it gives the child time to prepare for the change.
- Put the green card out to say the activity is starting
- Put the amber card out when the activity has nearly finished and say “one more minute”
- Put the red card out when the activity has finished and say “the activity has finished”.
The child is given a token each time they achieve a target. They are shown what they are expected to do (e.g. sit for 3 songs) and after each song they are given a reward token, to keep them on task for the duration.
Break down the individual steps of a task. Use photos of each step to show the child the sequence of events and what it is they are expected to do at each stage.
Where a child has limited communication/ language verbal scripts are important in teaching the child exactly what to say in any given situation. A script is exactly what the child should say at the time. It will be important to create reasons for your child to communicate (see leaflet “Creating Opportunities to Communicate”) when using verbal scripts.
How can we help?
- Use situations that happen every day e.g. opening a door and going through it.
- When leaving the room ensure the door is shut, the adult must go to the door, wait and say “the door’s shut. We need to ……..(open)”.
- Do this repetitively and ensure you leave a gap for your child to communicate “open”.
- After lots of attempts your child may then copy you to fill the gap using the language you have modelled. Eventually the child may use the word “open” in this context, independently.
- This is exactly how we teach “Ready, steady……..”
- You can extend this strategy to other situations e.g.
- Turn the light ………on/ off
- Put the plug…..in (at bath-time)
- Put my trousers….on (getting dressed)
- We need to…..open (box/ cupboard/ door)
- We need to……wash (hands)
- Extending: In time you can model the whole phrase and leave gaps for the child to fill in more words…
- “Turn the….light on/ off”
- “Put the…..plug in”
- We call this backwards chaining as the child starts to fill in more language themselves.
- Think about the things that you do at home routinely every day… and where you can build in reasons for them to communicate. Model the language and then leave gaps for the child to fill.
- What is the routine?
- What language will you use?
- Where will you leave the gap for your child to communicate?
Use interactive people games/activities with your child that is motivating for them. This might be:
- Splashing in the bath tub
- Tickles, hugs and squeezes
- Hand clapping games
- Spinning on the chair
Within these interactions, there are a few things that might be helpful.
Pause and wait for 10 seconds
Some children benefit from some processing time in order to respond to what they see or hear in their surroundings. When engaging in your activities, carry it out, then stop and wait to see how your child responds e.g. tickle and squeeze /splash water in the bathtub for about 10-20 seconds, then stop and say ‘stop’. Wait for 10 seconds and see how they respond.
Accept ALL attempts for communication, model, acknowledge then honour his request
Watch to see how they respond to your 10 second wait. People and children use lots of ways to communicate: Proximity (the distance between two people), eye contact, facial expression, gesture and body language, and voice. Watch out for these – your child might respond by:
- Touching your face
- Making eye contact
- Moving closer towards you
Interpret these indicators and think about what your child is trying to communicate – is it for ‘more’ or ‘stop’?
Then say these words simply for them ‘more’ ‘stop’. At this stage, just modelling these words on their own is enough. There is no need for them to repeat these words, just listening is helpful.
Once you have modelled the word, honour what they have asked for. Continue with another turn of the activity if they have asked for ‘more’ in their own way. If they are ready to stop, then it is time to stop. Say ‘____ finished’ e.g. ‘splashing finished’ and end the activity.
Recasting is a way of offering children clear, simple language models that reflect their own language attempts. This ensures that models are provided just at the right level. You do not need to ask them to repeat or repair their production. Just listening is helpful.
Recasting is useful as it is a technique that does not obstruct the natural flow of communication. A recast occurs when the adult modifies a child’s sentence by adding new or different grammar or word meaning information. The adult is simply repeating the ‘right’ way of saying the sentence.
The child does not have to repeat what they have said, just them listening to the recast is useful. The child may naturally repeat the adult, but this is not a requirement.
Wherever possible try to extend vocabulary through normal conversation by repeating the child’s sentence back to them and adding one word or piece of information.
Child – “man up there” Adult – “the man’s going up the ladder”
Child - “look, elephant!” Adult - “yes, a big elephant!”
Child- “I want cookies” Adult- “you want a big cookie?”
Model improved sentence structure and grammar
When a child uses a short or out of sequence phrase or sentence, repeat back what they have said but modify the language to make it more adult.
Child – “he’s eated the mouses” Adult – “yes, he has eaten the mice”
Child - “he leave him alone all by him on him alone” Adult - “ he left him all by himself”
Child- “She felled down.” Adult- “yes, she fell down.” Child- “me can do that!” Adult- “I can do it too!”
Recast’ in normal conversation.
Take opportunities through the day to recast in this way as a natural part of conversation.
Set aside time to share and discuss pictures
Set aside a specific one to one or small group talking time. It is very helpful to have a visual basis such as a picture book or sequencing cards to discuss. Use this time to recast. During structured sessions like this encourage children to try repairing their production, following the model you offered them.