Speech & Language Learning at Home
During this time while families are stuck at home, there are many ways that you, as parents, can continue to promote language learning within everyday routines! Evidence indicates that how you implement strategies at home is just as important as therapy itself to your child’s overall success. To support you, our Speech Language Pathologist, Marika Gaul, has shared some techniques you can use throughout your daily routines and during play-based activities with your child. Let’s look at how using your words truly can go a long way!
Engage in reciprocal exchange activities
A defining feature of autism is poor reciprocity, the back-and-forth flow of social interaction. Eye contact, joint attention, turn taking, and reciprocal exchange can be difficult. To encourage mutual exchange, explore activities as a family, like turn taking games, that rely on interaction and reciprocity. The use of simple, spoken instructions like “my turn” and “your turn” can help keep children engaged. Some example of these activities include:
- Rolling a ball back and forth
- Taking turns placing objects in a box or lining them up in a row
- Feeding an animal using utensils, which targets fine motor coordination, while target
identifying/labeling foods and making animal sounds.
- Playing a board game for higher level learners
Narrate daily routines
One of the simplest strategies to add to your toolkit is narrating daily routines as you and your child perform them. Verbalizing the motions as a child cleans up toys, washes hands, or takes a bath exposes them to language and allows them to connect the action to the word. We encourage parents to produce concise phrases in hopes that the child will imitate and eventually use the phrase in a natural environment on their own. When the child produces a word like “bath,” it gives you as the parent an opportunity to expand on it and help make the word more meaningful, for example, by saying “Yes, let’s take a bath!”
Not only can you ask “W-H” questions during book routines, but you can ask children “what”, “where” “who”, and “why” questions based on their level of development while they engage in a task or play based routine. For example, “where is the bear?” If they do not answer, please model using simple language such as “in the box.” “W-H” questions expose children to actions, prepositions, and pronouns, which are critical components of a syntactic structure.
We hope you found these techniques fun and easy to integrate into your daily activity! Stay tuned for more tips and strategies to work on speech and language skills.