Parents of children who have communication disorders often ask what they can do to help increase their child’s expressive output. One way to get your child to verbalize, vocalize or show communicative intent (i.e., pointing, reaching, grabbing) is to tempt them with things! Some examples of what is meant by this would be to pause a preferred video at an inopportune time. If the child wants to continue watching, they will do some type of language based gesture or sign to tell you, “hey! I want that on!” You may also want to do something the child likes (i.e., eating ice-cream) but not invite the child to do it with you. This will tempt the child into telling you “I want to do it too” in one way or another. If a child is not verbalizing the exact words, but showing you in a more non-verbal way; you can then model the correct language for them.
A parent may wonder how to reinforce appropriately. First, we must honor the temptation, if the request is “more” you should give the child more while using language expansion “i.e., more ice cream”. A general rule of thumb here; if the language learner uses 0 words, model 1 word, if the language learner uses 1 word, model 2 words, if the language learner uses 3 words, model 4 words. Once a child is at the stage of using 4 words, you can model more words “you want more vanilla ice-cream? Yum!” (Parker, R., 2012)
– Lauren W. M.S. CF-SLP