Kelli Meyer - June 26, 2022

Teach Functional Words And Signs To Help Your Child Communicate Easily in 6 Steps

There is a lot of steps a child has to master before they begin to speak including the BRIDGES to words! These include: joint attention, communicative intent, pointing, gestures, signs, sounds, and finally, WORDS! There is SO much to do to get your little one ready to speak!

Begin with pre-linguistic skills such as eye contact, attention span, and play skills. Then work up to social games and routines (ring around the rosey, peek a boo, giddy up horsey), following simple directions, identifying objects and pointing, and then begin using GESTURES and SIGNS to help teach words and communication.

How to Teach Functional Words and Signs

How to Teach Functional Words and Signs

How to Teach Functional Words and Signs

  1. Set your child up for success to make a request!Provide opportunities for your child to make a request by not anticipating needs & limiting access to your child’s favorite snacks/toys
  2. Provide a SIMPLE sign PAIRED with a word– Then model, model, model and make it lots of FUN! Use positive reinforcements and motivators. Avoid over prompting. Meaning, do not prompt all day for common objects/toys and food! Instead, focus on using this technique with your child’s favorite thing or book and stick to it! Repeat the sign, modeling for a minimum of a week, up to 50 times per day! WHEW! therapy is hard work! I know!
  3. Be ConsistentUse repetition, hand over hand (when you can and be QUICK!) and SHOW your child / help someone else be successful to model success!
  4. Provide a CHOICE – A choice gives your child POWER! Try to keep it simple!
  5. Do a little, get a little. Do a lot, get a lot!– Help your child become successful by not giving in to tantrums and negative behaviors – walk away. You can always try to prompt again later and your child will be more motivated because they were not successful the first time.
  6. Limit Sign ExposureTeach functional words and signs one at a time to limit a child “scrolling” through ASL signs. Avoid OVERGENERALIZATION of “MORE” sign because some things cannot be “more!” and/or sometimes we (as parents and providers can’t figure out what “more” is because we haven’t given anything in the first place – so switch the “more” sign for something more functional – cracker, cookie, juice, candy, game, play, up, down, in, open! ANYTHING is “more” when they sign it again! But “more” can’t be anything when nothing is given!

Check out my website for more helpful tips on how to teach functional words and signs or read more of my articles on the BetterMe BLOG!

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