Whether your child is just starting to speak, uses a communication device or signs, or is working on speaking in longer sentences, there is always more progress to be made! Practicing these skills in therapy is important, but we see even faster rates of success when children are required to practice those skills in other environments too. Here are some ways you can naturally create opportunities to practice those language skills at home:
Put items out of reach
Place the child’s favorite food/toys on a high shelf or in a see-through box they can’t open. When they want it, this give you an opportunity to help them ask for it! If your child is working on one-word requests, you can prompt them to point and say the item. If you child is using a communication device or sign, you can help them find the item or sign for it. If your child is working on expanding their language to include longer sentences, prompt them to say “I want he __” or “Can I have the red ___”. Remember, only prompt as much as you need to- the less you need to help, the better!
Give the child one piece at a time
If you child is asking for chips, only give them a few at a time. This creates an opportunity for them to ask for more chips!
If your child wants to play with a puzzle or Legos, keep the extra pieces with you. This gives the child an opportunity to ask for the item. For example, during an alphabet puzzle, once the child has placed A, you should hold the letter B where they can see so they have a chance to request for it.
Create opportunities to ask you to stop
If something happens that the child doesn’t like, prompt them to ask you to stop. This is a very important self-advocacy skills that we want all our children to know how to do. For example, sometimes a child might not be in the mood for tickles. If you notice this while you are tickling them, prompt them to request for you to stop, and immediately stop when they ask appropriately. We want the child to know that their requesting is meaningful and effective, and there are so many ways we can help demonstrate that to them! The more practice they get, the more they will use their functional communication skills, so practicing at home is key to the development of these very important skills. If the child needs help, don’t be afraid to jump in and prompt them to ask- but avoid creating prompt dependence. Check out one of our last blogs about Prompting Independence for more details.
This blog entry was written by Lissa Bonnstetter, BCBA.