Encouraging Communication at Home

During speech therapy, your speech pathologist will teach your child new speech and language skills needed to further develop their ability to communicate effectively.  It is really important that your child gets many opportunities to practice these new skills outside of the treatment room.

It can be difficult to come up with ideas for incorporating your child’s speech goals into their everyday activities.  Here are a few ways you can use daily routines to help your child practice using their verbal skills.  These suggestions focus on increasing intentional communication, requesting, labeling and expanding utterances. 

First, make sure your child wants or needs the object or action. Then, he must request it in order to receive it.  This can be at whatever skill level he is currently at: pointing, gestures/signs, or using verbal approximations, words, phrases, or sentences.  Here are some examples of how to “set up” situations that will prompt your child to make requests:

  1. Place desired items so that they are visible, but out of reach.
  2. Pour just a small amount of milk or juice in their cup so they will need to ask for more.
  3. Give a bowl of yogurt or ice cream with no spoon.
  4. Stand at the door without opening it and wait.
  5. Put your child in a swing, but wait to push it.
  6. Put toys or snacks in clear containers that your child cannot open without help.

Wait and see if your child will make a request or verbal response independently. Prompt a request if they don’t do it on their own. If they are already using a word, prompt/model word combinations or phrases. Be sure to set your expectation at a level of response you know your child is capable of giving, so they do not become frustrated. Reinforcement will occur naturally when you give your child what they ask for.  Be sure to praise all their attempts!

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