Mothers would usually begin fretting over their babies’ milestones when words don’t seem to come out from their one-year-olds. And yes, this is a red flag. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), children from 7 months to 1 year can already comprehend common words like mommy, daddy, milk, juice, and cup. They can respond to common phrases, such as “Come here,” “No,” or ‘Want more?”
Below are proven ways to boost children’s language skills as suggested by ASHA. These tips should be carried out consistently and properly to achieve favorable results.
Describe what the child is seeing or doing. Label everything that the child is showing interest in to expand his/her vocabulary.
Adult: Oh, you’re jumping! You can jump high!
That’s your new toy! It’s a pink rabbit!
Describe what you’re doing or making in simple words. Avoid wordy instructions or sentences. Stress the specific word that you want to teach the child.
Adult: I’m putting the baby to SLEEP.
She is very SLEEPY.
Subtly correct the child’s utterances but do not overdo it. Prompt the child to repeat after you but don’t force him/her. Our main goal here is to maintain a friendly tone as much as possible to engage the child in the conversation.
Child: Get toy!
Adult: Do you want me to get the toy? Say, “Get the toy!”
EXPANSION OF VOCABULARY
When children are already capable of identifying common objects like car, circle, or train, expand their utterances by gradually adding more descriptive words.
Parent: Yellow train! / Big yellow train!
SABOTAGE – Encourage the child to talk by setting up a circumstance/s. Put his favorite toy somewhere beyond his reach and ask “Can you find your car? Where is it?
RESIST – Do not give in to the child’s request in the form of crying when he wants or needs a toy or food. The child has to make an attempt to make a verbal request. Although this depends on the child’s vocabulary skills, one word or two words is sufficient.
The child wants the ball and cries.
Adult: Say, “Get the ball.”
There are a bunch of activities that you can carry out at home with your child to provide him a language-rich environment. Be a role model. Speak clearly when talking to the child. Correct your child’s sentences or words by saying the sentence/words back correctly to give your child an idea of the accurate version. Invest in good books. Books can expand children’s vocabulary. The book “My First 1000 Words” is a wonderful book to start with. Sing nursery rhymes in the morning and even in the evening before going to bed. Don’t miss your child’s speech therapy sessions.
Remember that teaching a child to speak shouldn’t be forced, it should be fed. That’s exactly the reason why you have to turn everyday experiences into learning opportunities. Home is where a child encounters naturally occurring opportunities to learn. Daily interactions expose a child to more words. Planned opportunities take place when you send your child to a Speech Therapy Clinic or when you bring him to a playground to play with others. Teaching children with ASD requires lots of effort and repetition. You’ll be surprised by what they can be capable of doing given plenty of opportunities, proper intervention, and unconditional love.