Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stop Trying to Get your Child to Talk

What?!  Speech therapist is saying to stop trying to get your child to talk?  Well, yeah, but here's what I mean.

For some kids, repeatedly asking him/her (just gonna use "him" from here on) to say words for you doesn't really help him learn language.  It can have the opposite effect because it takes the joy out of communication and triggers the "stubborn" in some kids.  The desire to communicate comes from having something to say and knowing someone will listen.  So, instead of making your child repeat words after you, let him lead the communication and then follow that lead.  If you need to remind yourself to take the pressure off, a good rule of thumb is "Don't say say."  Plus, some kids, especially those with ASD, may echo the behavior (adding "say" before they talk), or may learn to rely on the prompt instead of learning to communicate independently.

For example, prompting your child to say "hi" or "bye" to visitors. (Can you hear yourself doing it?  "Say hi, say hi to grandma, Johnny say hi, say hi.."  Don't worry, we have all been there!)

Instead:

  • get down on the child's level, 
  • try to secure attention and eye contact, 
  • be very excited and expressive in your facial gestures 
  • and simply say "Hi!" 
  • Then WAIT expectantly (count slowly to 3 to yourself if you need to - sometimes kids need time to process).
Will your child respond immediately?  Maybe, maybe not, maybe over time... but I prefer this more natural way of teaching language and have seen it work.


Dawn Gummersall, M.S., CCC-SLP

some info adapted from It Takes Two to Talk, by Jan Pepper and Elaine Weitzman  -- a great resource for anyone looking for ideas on developing early language

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