A blog by Joanne Stephen, Program Coordinator (Senior Speech Pathologist), AEIOU Foundation
How quickly a child acquires language from their natural environment never fails to amaze me. Friends with young children often ask if they should use flash cards or educational programs on the computer to aid in the development of language. However, in my opinion, language is best acquired through maximal learning opportunities across different materials.
With BLUE as the target word, these are some possible ways you could try to teach language:
- It has to be fun!
Plan activities around parts of language that would encourage learning of new actions, objects etc. Have the activities lined up for the week around the colour blue. This could include making blue playdough, painting, playing with coloured dye, making blue bubble juice etc. The sky (pun intended) is the limit! Having fun filled activities makes language tangible and part of everyday life.
- Get down on their level!
Choose to be part of their world, even if it means a sore back in the evening! This important act of playing and communicating at their level helps foster joint attention, socialisation and cooperative play. Choose activities that could involve your child in the play/ process eg. a game of Twister or the board game Trouble.
- Keeping the conversation going!
'Chatting' with a child is a good way to model language. Chatting could encompass commenting on the environment, asking questions, responding to questions, changing your facial expression as a non-verbal response etc. This teaches a child how to communicate his/her thoughts through various means eg. 'I spy' game, talking about situations that your child has experienced in the past that have made them feel blue, discussing what can we find in the ocean etc.
- Read all about it!
Books are a great way to encourage language development. Pick up some books with an ocean theme for bedtime reading. Or if you're feeling particularly creative, make a homemade book together with your child to teach them about the life under the sea.
Language is learnt best when absorbed from the environment around a child, through seeing, touching and listening!
AEIOU Foundation holds regular workshops for their families to help them acquire the skills and tools to continue the learning at home. The next workshop topic is Communication, and will be held across all centres in the week beginning Monday 8 October. For more information, or to RSVP, visit: https://aeiou.org.au/parents
About the author: Joanne Stephen is a Senior Speech Pathologist and Program Coordinator at AEIOU Foundation. With over eight years of autism-specific experience, Jo specialises in language therapy, articulation therapy, mealtimes management, and behaviour management. She is driven to provide training and support to therapists at AEIOU foundation and within the broader community and implement intervention based on the science of behavioural analysis and provide education on the effective outcomes this approach facilitates.