Your child may be using augmentative or alternative methods (AAC) to communicate. When introduced to AAC, users may initially use it primarily to request. However, once they’ve reached success with requesting, how do we begin to move beyond that? Better yet, what other ways are there to communicate?
Communication goes beyond just requesting items. Communication can also be used to ask and answer questions, to comment, to express our opinions, to protest and to retell individual experiences. How do we model these functions? One way is through aided language input, defined as a communication partner highlighting symbols on an AAC system as they interact verbally with the individual using AAC with a goal to teach language (Goosens, Crain, Elder, 1992, 19224.) Modeling target words and modeling at a level one or two words beyond where the individual is currently communicating is recommended. When modeling, using a slower rate of speech will help AAC users process what you are communicating.
There are several activities you can participate in to model those different communicative functions. A few of those include shared reading activities, topic boards (having the individual pick a topic they’d like to talk about) and video modeling. Keep in mind that adapting activities to the individual’s interests will make it that much more motivating and engaging for the individual, thereby increasing the desire to communicate!
Resource: Communicative Functions and AAC: Quick Tips to Move Beyond Requesting: Rebecca Eisenberg