Speech and language tools
One of the questions I get asked the most frequently is : when will my child speak?
Every parent wants to hear their child’s first words and once those first words come, parents are eager to keep communicating with their special needs kids. One of the greatest joys of my work is being able to help children and parents experience those first words together. I feel honored to have witnessed so many first “mom” s and “dad” s within the walls of my learning center.
In my 15 years working with children on the autism spectrum and with a variety of different special needs, in addition to my experience of growing up with Nick, by special needs brother, I have built quite a collection of tools to help children learn to communicate.
We use a wide range of materials in my learning house to promote communication ranging from adapted sign language to real photo exchange systems and all kinds of toys that increase motivation and learning. If you would like to learn more about putting in place a communication that is specifically tailored to your child’s special needs, please contact me.
My selection of speech and language tools
One of the tools that I use the most in my therapy sessions is the chewy tube. There are many variations based on the specific skill you are working on with your child. You can build jaw strength, decrease chewing behavior and increase speech by using the chewy tube as part of an adapted educational program.
You can read about how I use chewy tubes to decrease chewing behaviors and increase communication, in this post.
Simple animals memory game
One of the best ways to start teaching your child to communicate is by starting to build simple vocabulary skills in a structured way. Children with autism tend to be strong visual learners and can benefit from matching activities to learn new vocabulary. One of our most used games for building basic vocabulary skills at my learning center is this simple animals memory game (avilable in many languages).
Teach Your Baby Sign ASL Sign Language Book
One of the best ways to increase communication in non-verbal or low verbal child with special needs, is to begin teaching them sign language. Most of my little learners are entirely non-verbal when they first come for an evaluation. I put in place signs with them to help them learn to speak. I love the Teach Your Baby to Sign : An Illustrated Guide to Simple Sign Language for Babies.
Two important things to consider :
1/ Sign language is usually not meant to replace verbal language with a special needs child unless the child cannot develop speech. I use signs to teach a special needs learner to communicate which enables me to introduce verbal speech a lot more easily. As soon as sign language is in place, the child will be able to communicate and frustration for unmet needs will immediately decrease.
2/ This book is a wonderful resource. I would prioritize teaching your child specific requests for a particular item such as “water”, “blanket”, “ball”, rather than more general requests that can be used for many items such as “more”, “again”, etc. The goal here is to teach your child to request as much as possible and to discrimate requests for various items.
Learn more about signing with your child in this video!
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