Fort Myers speech therapists

Conversational Scripts and How Our Fort Myers Speech Therapists Use Them

Conversation is something that flows naturally for many of us. But for some kids with delays and disabilities, conversational skills may be abstract and nuanced. One tool our Fort Myers speech therapists use to help practice conversational skills is through “scripts.”

Scripts can help kids learn how to appropriately initiate, maintain, extend and end social and conversational exchanges. These can be used to talk about special interests, participate in activities, engage in classroom activities and more. Conversational scripts take it a step beyond simple requesting and can help children recognize and understand the organization, guidelines and boundaries of everyday conversation.

As always, we tailor our techniques to the way each child learns, beginning with engaging topics about which they’re interested.

Some examples of when we might utilize conversational scripts:

  • The child needs help staying on topic, particularly when it’s non-preferred.
  • The child needs help understanding when it’s their turn to speak and what is being asked of them (particularly common with receptive language deficits).
  • The child monopolizes conversations or constantly interrupts, never allowing others a chance to contribute.

Fort Myers Speech Therapists Tailor Our Tools to the Child 

A conversational script helps the lessons “stick” for both visual and auditory learners. Just like actors in a play, it’s a teaching tool that allows kids to practice conversations they’re likely to have.

Parents of children on the autism spectrum may be familiar with a child who regularly engages in “scripting,” which is when a child with autism routinely recites lines from video games, movies or books. Conversation scripts are visual cues that often use speech bubbles describing an exchange of conversation between two or more individuals. Our Fort Myers speech therapists have found them to be very useful tools in teaching and reinforcing important social skills kids will use in everyday life.

For a younger child, we might start with very basic “Yes/No” questions. The question might be, “Are you scared of storms?” We might include a visual picture of a storm and/or several emojis. We then include a visual reminder to listen. Last, we’d follow with two visual options of how to answer, either, “Yes, I’m scared of storms,” or “No, I’m not scared of storms.”

For older kids, we might practice more nuanced skills. Let’s say it’s a conversation about video games between two people. Divide the paper into two vertical rectangles – one side for each speaker, labeled at the top. The first speaker talks, “Hey, what’s up?” An arrow flows to the second speaker, who says, “Dude, I just got a new game for my Play Station. It’s so cool!” Another arrow will flow back to the first speaker, who says, “Awesome, what’s -“. The arrow goes back to the second speaker, who says, “It’s got a dungeon and dragon layer and the third level is in a cave. I played it for like three hours yesterday.” Back to the second speaker, who says, “Cool, what -” … And back to the second speaker who goes on about the game.

Our speech therapist would “read and roleplay” one part, while the child acts out the other. Then we’d analyze it. What was good about the conversation? Did they stay on topic? What was not so good? Was someone interrupting? What was the perspective of each person? How did each person feel during the conversation? Then, we go back and fix it and try it again!

Play-acting with these kinds of scripts is a great direct instruction tool to help kids prepare for spontaneous conversations. We reinforce them with natural responses and positive body language and facial expressions. The best part is these can be easily modified to the unique interests of the child.

As the child gets more practice, we can start incorporating conversational scripts without the actual scripts, with other patients, etc.

If you have questions about using conversational scripts with your child at home, our Fort Myers speech therapists can help!

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy to children in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and throughout Southwest Florida. Virtual speech therapy is available to kids throughout Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Social Skills Interventions for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bellinger, J. M., Perlman, E. H., et al. (2011)., School Psychology Forum, ASHA

More Blog Entries:

5 Free, Easy Speech Therapy Games to Play With Your Child, Nov. 6, 2020, FOCUS Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog

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