Encouraging Spontaneous Communication

Q: How can I help my child communicate better?

  • Play early speech routine games such as “peek-a-boo” Simon says, and hide and seek.
  • Model pretend play with your child (e.g. feed a doll, stir soup) Pair actions with words.
  • Organize toys outside the child’s reach.  Your child will have to request the toy by pointing, requesting, or signing “play.”
  • At meal and snack time, provide your child with two choice to eat or drink.  Model “I want…” Any verbal attempt is reinforced with the desired choice.
  • Rather than giving your child a full serving (e.g. cheerios), give a few at a time,  and ask your child to indicate “more.”
  • Sit with your child on your lap in front of the mirror.  Make silly sounds and faces. When your child says or does something, imitate it immediately.
  • Label everything your child touches and does.
  • Use short phrases to talk about what your doing.  
  • When your child cannot accomplish a task independently, model the phrase “help me.”
  • Hold a toy under your chin when you label the object and ask your child to repeat.
  • When blowing bubbles or rolling a ball, model: “ready, set, go” or “one, two, three.”  
  • Sing familiar songs and leave out the last word to see if your child will finish the phrase.
  • If your child is using single words, repeat back two words (e.g., ball…more ball).
  • Swing your child or blow up a balloon and suddenly stop, waiting for your child to request for “more.”
  • Take turns stacking blocks or blowing bubbles while modeling “my/your turn.”
  • If your child reaches for you to pick her up, ask her to say “up” before picking her up.
  • Hide toys under cups or boxes.  Lift up one at a time and label them.
  • Look at a flip-up book and ask your child to label or point to the pictures.
  • Place toys in a bag and as you take each one out, ask “Is this a….?”
  • Pretend a doll is sleeping.  Say “wake up!” Repeat a few times, put doll to sleep, and wait.
  • Shake a paper bag and say “what’s inside?”  Take out one at a time, labeling each object.
  • When asking questions and your child does not respond, provide choices.
  • Model environmental sounds such as: “vroom, choo-choo, beep beep, honk, ring ring.”
  • Place toy animals in a bag.  As you take each out, model the animal sounds such as: “meow, ruff-ruff, quack, moo, oink.”
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