If your child is challenged learning to take turns talking and be understood, try some of these tips.
First let’s define words you may hear when talking to professionals. Language is how we communicate our wants and needs. This can be done verbally or nonverbally. We have to know and understand things in order to talk about them. So, language is both understanding and expressing. Point to as many items in your child’s world as you can and name them for your child. This helps your child to increase the words he knows and understand what those words mean.
Pragmatics is social language or graces. It is how we greet people, hold a conversation, take turns speaking, the personal space we maintain when we are speaking to others, eye contact etc. It is like the manners or expectations of communication both verbal and nonverbal.
Now some tips for encouraging back and forth communication with your child:
• Encourage the use of “appropriate personal space”. Place a hoola hoop around yourself and one around the child. Explain that if they want to enter the other person’s space, they need to ask.
• Encourage asking for hugs (when the child wants one) to be consistent in teaching your child to respect someone’s personal space
• Encourage children to look at your eyes when requesting,
• Put their hands at your eye level to direct them and/or point to your eyes
• When answering yes/no questions, if the child is just saying back “yes or no”, expand the utterance to include the full choice to demonstrate that there are two clear choices (i.e. “Yes, I want more ball, or No, I am all done with the ball”)
• Encourage use of signs to communicate when the child is having difficulty requesting or commenting
• If they have a sign in their repertoire make them use it before giving them what they want (i.e. ball, more, all done)
• If your child has difficulty using vocalizations consistently when they do make noises, repeat it back to them with the exact same sound, tone of voice, and inflection
• This will help to teach them intent of communication, and that when they talk, you will respond back
• Expand upon words that your child is using (i.e. if they say “ball”, say “red ball”, or“big red ball”)
• This will encourage two word utterances
• Practice turn taking with games (i.e. candyland)