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- Not Anticipating: Do not anticipate your child’s every need or desire before he/she has a chance to make them known to you. If your child gets what he/she wants without communicating for it, he/she will not even bother to point, gesture, or possibly talk.
- Delaying Responses: Delay your responses to your child’s pointing, gestures, or babbling when he/she wants things. When your child points or gestures without attempting to talk, he/she is still trying to communicate, and you eventually have to respond to the non-verbal communication. However, just pretend you don’t understand what he/she wants for 15-20 seconds and then respond appropriately. If he/she attempts to say any meaningful word(s), respond right away. Show your child that the payoff for attempting to use words is much greater – things happy faster.
- Parent’s Speech: Name nouns (objects) and verbs (actions) in real life and in pictures. Use slow, clear, simple speech when talking to your child. By the age of one, never talk baby-talk to your child. Always try to make your child feel good about making the effort to speak.
- Read books: Choose colorful books with large, simple pictures.
- Self-Talk: Talk out loud about what you are seeing, hearing, doing, or feeling when your child is nearby or within hearing range. He/she does not have to be close to you or paying attention; he/she only has to be in hearing range. Be sure to use slow, clear, simple words and short phrases.
- Parallel Talk: Talk out-loud about what is happening to your child. Use words to describe what he/she is doing, seeing, hearing, or feeling when your child is nearby or within hearing range.
- Reinforcement (praise): Respond quickly to your child’s speech attempts and verbal requests by your actions and/or verbal responses.
- Echo-Expansion Modeling: As a general rule, add one or two words to what your child says when you respond back to him/her. A child loves to hear his own words repeated back! If your child’s word order was wrong, correct it when you repeat. (i.e. change “up” to “come up,” change “mine” to “this is mine”
- Expectations: Your expectations, according to the level your child is at, are very important. You must always let your child know your expectations concerning his speech. If he has said a word or phrase on his own a few times already, and then doesn’t use it again in the same or similar situation, make your child aware that he/she has been saying something which you know he/she can say and you’re not happy about it. Let him/her know you expect them to keep using that word or phrase.
- Other Suggestions: a. Ask questions: Ask your child “What’s that?” or “What am I doing?” with objects, actions, or pictures.
b. If your child is not at the imitation level, take the pressure off him/her for speech. Just model the words and phrases to him/her. Give time to respond – but don’t pressure to do so.
c. Encourage independence and separation from you if your child is overly shy or attached to you.