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Becca Eisenberg
BY Becca Eisenberg

5 Strategies to Create Communication Opportunities at Home

Do you want to help create more communication opportunities at home? Do you want to increase your children’s verbalizations and/or aided communication (e.g. augmentative communication)?

For most parents or caregivers, we know what our children want without them having to speak. For many children, just a glance can say it all! However, we need to create these communication opportunities at home so that we can improve their communication outside the home (e.g. school, community, etc.). Practicing within the home is ideal because it is safe, free from judgment and supportive.

Here are five ways to create these communication opportunities at home:

1. Keep desired things out of reach or out of sight so he or she have to ask for it

Many parents tell me that their child doesn’t communicate desired items because they can simply retrieve it themselves. This can be true in many homes, which is why we need to create the opportunity for a child to ask for a specific item. I am not suggesting that the parent should take all desired items and put them away but start small.

For a more desired toy, take the toy and put it on a higher shelf. When you child wants that toy, they will have to look for it (improving visual awareness), and ask you for the item. If it’s on a higher shelf, you can ask them “What should you do to get it?” This can incorporate from problem-solving on their part (getting a stool, asking you for help, etc.).

2. Give smaller amounts so they can ask for more

If you want your child to improve requesting, give them less of a desired item over time. If you split a cookie into four pieces, you are creating four opportunities for requesting versus one!

3. Give the wrong thing on purpose to create the opportunity to ask for the item

For example, if your child wants to a specific color crayon, give them the wrong one on purpose. This will provide them the opportunity to correct you and work on clarifying their message. Although this may seem silly to do as a parent, clarifying a specific message is very important and the skills can help them in future conversation opportunities.

4. Wait!

Waiting is one of my favorite strategies. Many family members who work with me during speech and language sessions will often jump in with prompts, questions, etc. in order to get the child to communicate a specific message. I consistently tell others that we need to wait and give the child the opportunity to communicate. This idea goes along well with the idea of reducing prompts. To check out my article on reducing prompts with children with special needs, click here (https://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2015/07/15/5-reasons-to-reduce-prompting-with-your-child-with-special-needs/).

5. Provide opportunities to ask for help

This will not only increase independence but will also provide your child with the ability to ask for help, which is important for safety and daily living. For example, if your child wants a granola bar that they can’t open it, give them the bar without you opening it. This will provide an opportunity for your child to initiate an interaction and ask for help verbally or through augmentative and/or alternative means, “I need help please”.

Becca Eisenberg

Written on November 4, 2015 by:

Becca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two young children, who began her blog www.gravitybread.com to create a resource for parents to help make mealtime an enriched learning experience. She discusses the benefits of reading to young children during mealtime, shares recipes with language tips and carryover activities, reviews children’s books for typical children and those with special needs as well as educational apps. She has worked for many years with both children and adults with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings including schools, day habilitation programs, home care and clinics. She can be reached at [email protected]
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