communication temptations

Communication Temptations: How Speech Therapists Get Your Child to Talk

By Jennifer Voltz, MS/ CCC-SLP, Owner/ Founder of FOCUS

As mothers, we know what our children want even before they do. We know when they will be thirsty or hungry, because well, we just know.

But think about it: If we get out a juice box and have the straw already inserted and the first sip taken to make sure it’s not too full – and we hand it to our little one, they never have any need to communicate. We met their needs before they even had to say one word.

One of the ways our speech therapists compel children with speech delays to engage in communication is to resist giving into that need or desire – even when we know exactly what it is.

Parents can employ this same tactic. 

Try it at Home

Instead of handing your child the juice box ready to go, get it out of the fridge and place it on the counter.  Wait and see if your child notices it.  If not, say to your child, “Want juice?” Point to the juice box and say, “I want juice.” Take your child’s hand and point to it too.  Then hand it to them just as it is, and wait.  Let them bring it to you to open it.  When they hand it back to you, say, “What do you need?”

Don’t put the juice boxes on the bottom shelf where your child can just go into the fridge and help himself either.  Although this seems very convenient, it will also negate the need for communication.  Instead place the juice boxes on the top shelf, out of reach, so that at the very least your child has to open the fridge and then point to it.  Pointing is communicating and a step in the right direction.

You can do this with all items that your child wants or needs on a day-to-day basis.  Put their favorite toys up high but in a visible spot.  That way they can point and learn to say the words that will get them the things they want.  

These are called “communication temptations” and they are very effective.

One 2013 study published in the journal Pediatrics revealed that 70 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders with a history of severe language delay achieved phrase or fluent speech by age eight. But this occurs with intervention. The earlier you can provide services, the faster you will see progress. Communication temptations are part of that process.

Tempting Communication 

At FOCUS, our Fort Myers child speech therapists make sure toys are a reward. We keep all of our toys in clear bins with locking lids.  All are stacked on shelves high out of reach so the child can see what looks fun and point to it.  

Over time, they can learn the words to ask for the toys they love – the “communication temptations.”  Once we get the bin down for them and they get excited, we “play dumb” and wait for them to ask for help.  Some kids would rather try to get that lid off all by themselves then ask for help to open it.  Each time we get a new bin down, we teach the child to say “open” or “help me please.”

Communication temptations can be used throughout the day to encourage and facilitate language development.  The more opportunities the child encounters that set him up for the need to communicate, and the more opportunities he has to use communicate to get what he needs, the better he will become at using words rather than crying or getting frustrated.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Speech emerges in children on the autism spectrum with severe language delay at greater rate than previously thought, March 4, 2013, Science Daily

More Blog Entries:

Study: Better Access to Early Intervention Helps Children At-Risk for Autism, March 12, 2017, Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog

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