Below is a short excerpt from The Autism Language Launcher: Chapter 14 dedicated to Stage Two skills.Chapters 12-14 show you how to help your child achieve each skill in the Son-Rise Program® Developmental Model Fundamental of Verbal Communication stages 1-3.
“Goal #6: Has conversations that consist of one loop or more
One loop of conversation consists of one person saying something and another responding to what has just been said, for example:
Person #1: “Do you want to draw?”
Person #2: “Yeah—draw house.”
When our children first start to have a conversation loop it is usually in reply to a question or statement made by another person. This means they are closing the loop rather than opening the loop. For this stage, we want to work on helping them to close the loop.
If you have not done so already, this would be the time to teach the words “yes” and “no.” You can do this by modeling the words on the shelf. For example, if your child is looking at the cars on the shelf, go over and say, “Do you want the car?” They may reply, “Want car” or
“Car.” Celebrate them, and as you give them the car, model the word “yes” by saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes! You want the car, yes!” as you give them the car. Do the same with “no.” If you offer them something and they push it away, model “no” by saying, “No! No! No! You don’t want the toy, NO!” as you put the toy away.
It is also really helpful if you model nodding your head as you say “yes” and shaking your head as you say the word “no.” This teaches them the non-verbal part of “yes” and “no” and adds a little flare and 3E’s to the event.
B. DIRECTLY CHALLENGE THEM TO SAY “YES” AND “NO”
Once you have modeled “yes” and “no” in the ways suggested above, after a couple of weeks, it would be time to start to verbally ask them to say the words. If we take the same scenario, your child is looking at the cars on the shelf, go over and ask, “Do you want the car?” They may reply, “Want car.” Celebrate that they just said “Want car,” and then explain to them they could say, “Yes, want car.” You could say a variation of: “Thanks for letting me know you want the car. You could also let me know by saying, ‘Yes, want car.’ Say ‘yes’.” And, of course, give them a huge Celebration if they do.
You can Directly Challenge in the same way during your interactive games and activities. For example, if you are in the middle of a tickle game, instead of asking for your usual three-word sentence, stop and say, “Do you want a tickle?” If they say, “Want a tickle,” Celebrate their phrase and ask them to say, “Yes, want tickle.”
C. CELEBRATE THE FUNCTION OF LANGUAGE
If your child has a loop of conversation with you, Celebrate them for having a little conversation with you. You could say a variation of “I love that we just had a conversation together. I so love chatting with you!”
When your child gives you a Green Light and it is time to Entertain, have fun modeling simple conversations with puppets, stuffed animals, or dolls. If cars motivate your child, or numbers, or other non-people objects, these can have simple conversations with each other too. Step outside the box: magnetic #7 can talk with magnetic #3! The idea is to choose something that your child loves and is motivated by and to get chatty with them.
A sample conversation between magnetic #7 and magnetic #3 could be:
Magnetic #7: “Hello, my name is Sally Seven—what’s yours?”
Magnetic #3: Oh hi there, my name’s Theodore Three. What’s it like being number 7, Sally?”
Magnetic #7: “Oh, being number 7 is simply heaven. You get to be silly and sing. Do you want to hear my 7 songs?”
Magnetic #3: “Oh, yes please!”
Magnetic #7: [in a singing voice] “I love being me, I love being number 7, it’s more than 6 and less than 8. And it’s cozy-wozy sitting in-between my 6 and 8 number chums. La la la la la laaaaaaaaa.”
Magnetic #3: “Yay! Yay! What a great voice you have! So glad number 7 came up so I got to be next to you.”
Magnetic #7: “Yeah! What’s it’s like being number 3?” Magnetic #3: “It’s fabulous when you’re 3 you get to be big like a tree and say ‘Fiddle de dee, I like a bumblebee!’ It’s great fun being number 3.”
Don’t over-think the conversation; say anything!
Introducing turn taking into your games
Having a conversation is about taking turns—you speak, then I speak. It has a rhythm to it. Starting to introduce the concept of taking turns in the games your children already like to play will help them with this concept. When you are playing the games that your children love, look for a place to add in taking turns. For example:
- ★ In tickle games, I tickle you, and then you tickle me.
- ★ In chase games, I chase you, and then you chase me.
- ★ In singing games, I sing to you, and then you sing to me.
- ★ I draw for you, and then you draw for me.
- ★ I put a block on the tower, and then you put a block on the tower.
- ★ I read a page in the book, and then you read the next page”
(Excerpt by permission of Jessica Kingsley Publishers.)