Children with autism can demonstrate difficulties with language and communication. At home, we can help to promote language and communication by making changes to the environment, using preferred items and activities, and changing our behavior.
Changing the Environment
As children are developing, we tend to want to promote independence by placing items, activities, and evens foods and drinks within reach so that they can easily access these things. While this is important, it can hinder language and communication in individuals struggling in this area or with emerging skills in this area.
To promote language and communication at home, we want to place things out of reach so that individuals need to communicate in some way to gain access to what they want. For example, placing a favorite toy on the top shelf and encouraging language and communication to gain access. We can provide a model of what we want the individual to say or repeat or we can provide an approximation. An approximation can be something like saying the “b” sound for ball. Once the individual says the word, phrase, or sound, provide them with what they are asking for.
This begins to teach language and communication in a functional way to gain access to what the individual wants. This can be done with all kinds of things throughout the house.
Using Prepared Items and Activities
Using preferred items, activities, foods and drinks is a great way to promote language and communication. Usually, we have increased motivation to gain access to things we prefer. If coffee is your favorite, you are likely more motivated to get a coffee than a glass of water. We can use this approach to promote language and communication, as individuals are likely more motivated to engage in language and communication to get their favorite things.
These can be strategically placed in difficult-to-reach areas in the home so that the individual needs to engage in language and communication to gain access. Using modeling, we can provide the individual with exactly what we want them to say in order to get their favorite toy.
Changing our Behavior
The most challenging part of promoting language and communication is probably changing our behavior. It requires us to engage differently and take additional time in learning what to do and prepping the environment.
We need to model the desired behavior we want from individuals. This means we need to say exactly what we would like for the individual to say. We also want to increase our language and communication so that the individual hears different words and what things are called. It is almost as if you are narrating the day. For example, while driving in the car you say, “I see a big tree with green leaves”, or “look at that big blue truck”. The same can be done at home, while playing outside, taking a walk, or engaging in any activities. Even if the individual does not repeat what you are saying, they are hearing it and learning the words that match with different things.
We know this can be hard to do and we are here to help. If you need more ideas of what to do, training, or help setting up your home environment, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation. We are happy to talk about the services we can provide.
Promoting Language and Communication at Home Video: