Long before children are able to read fluently by themselves, they need constant exposure to language. It’s a major reason why parents are advised to frequently talk to their infants right from birth onward. A language-rich environment supports early literacy skills in all children, whether or not they have autism and require early intervention services. There are plenty of ways that parents can create a language-rich home for their children.
Fill your home with books.
It’s a given that a language-rich environment requires the presence of lots of books. Give your child his or her own bookcase, positioned low to the floor so that your child can easily access the books. Some parents like to keep a book or two near the child’s bed so it’s accessible as soon as the child wakes up from a nap. Used bookshops are an economical way to stock the shelves, and you can bring your child to the library regularly to pick out new selections. Your child should also see the adults in the family enjoy reading their own books every day.
Read to your child every day.
Reading together reinforces the loving bond you share with your child. Many parents like to read a few picture books at bedtime, allowing the child to choose them. It’s perfectly all right if your child selects the same books over and over again. This is actually beneficial for language acquisition because it reinforces the idea that the words remain the same and have the same meanings every time. Repetition is crucial for learning.
Help your child play with the books.
You can help your child develop a love of books and reading. Make the activity interactive by playing dress-up with your child to imitate the characters in a favorite book. If a book has animals as characters, use corresponding stuffed animals as props while reading the book. Encourage your child to talk about the story and characters by asking open-ended questions.
Children with language deficits, including children with autism, can receive early intervention services at The Behavior Exchange. Our autism treatment center near Plano provides the Early Start (B.E.E.S.) program designed to help toddlers acquire language, social, academic, and behavior skills. Parents are invited to call (888) 716-8084 to request a consult with a behavior analyst.
One important aspect of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is teaching children with autism to mand. “Mand” is just another word for a request. There are lots of little ways parents can incorporate ABA therapy into a child’s daily routine at home and in the community, and encouraging the child to mand is one of them.
Understanding the Importance of Manding
Manding is among the most powerful communication tools a child can learn. It gives the child a sense of control over the world. It also teaches the child that there is an alternative way to achieve an objective than to engage in undesirable behaviors. Children who master the art of manding can reduce problematic behaviors and learn how to navigate the world in a more self-sufficient way.
Finding the Right Time to Encourage Manding
There are many circumstances that are appropriate teaching moments for a child with autism. As an example, let’s say you give your child their favorite puzzle but hold on to the last piece. When they need the final piece of the puzzle, you can hold up the last remaining piece and encourage your child to mand.
Avoiding the Reinforcement of Improper Manding
Echolalia, or the repetition of words and phrases, can inadvertently cause parents to reinforce improper manding. As an example, let’s say that Jorge reaches for a cup of milk. His father asks, “Do you want milk?” Jorge repeats this sentence exactly and is given milk. This reinforces the idea that Jorge must ask “Do you want milk?” in order to get what he wants. If Jorge uses this question to request milk outside of the home, non-family members will probably say, “No, thank you,” instead of giving Jorge a drink. This can result in undesirable behaviors since Jorge will get frustrated that his improper mand didn’t work.
Individual and group parent training classes are available at The Behavior Exchange to help families learn how they can better support the progress of children with autism. When you attend our classes, you’ll learn how to turn every interaction with your child into a therapeutic one. Call our ABA school in Plano at (888) 716-8084 to find out about our upcoming schedule of classes.
Is your child showing signs of autism? Children with autistic spectrum disorders face certain language challenges. Fortunately, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can help children with autism develop and improve their language skills.
Watch this video to learn more about the specific language challenges that children with autism often deal with. Dr. Joy Hirsch explains how different areas of the brain operate to produce language processes. Scientists have come up with some different hypotheses as to how the brain’s processes can affect the language abilities of children with autism.
Is your child showing early signs of autism in Plano? The Behavior Exchange specializes in working with children with autism and helping them develop their language and social skills to improve their quality of life. Call (888) 716-8084 today to set up a consultation with the Behavior Exchange.
Many children with autism, learning differences, and behavior disorders have trouble making friends and interacting with others. If this describes your child with special needs, consider enrolling him or her in a social skills group at The Behavior Exchange, an ABA therapy center located in Plano. We’ve found that giving children with autism the tools they need to overcome social obstacles helps them feel self-confident and improves their quality of life.
Under the guidance of an ABA therapist, your child will receive the support he or she needs to make new friends. We offer a unique social skills curriculum with structured lessons, academic enrichment, and applied activities to encourage appropriate social interactions. Children in our social skills groups have fun and develop important skills while participating in our broad range of age-appropriate activities.
Parents of children with autism and other special needs are encouraged to call us at (888) 716-8084 today to find out more.
Autism specialists can help parents restructure the home environment to create learning opportunities. For example, many children with autism have trouble using speech to make requests. An autism expert might advise a parent to place certain objects, such as preferred snacks, within view of the child, yet out of reach. This may encourage the child to get into the habit of requesting items. Initially, the child may only point at the item. Over time, he or she may learn to say the item’s name and later, to phrase the request in a complete sentence.
Parents can use similar tricks to help their children learn new vocabulary words. Many children with autism are visual learners. Parents can introduce new words and reinforce old words by narrating their own actions. For example, when parents pick up a child, they can say, “Up!” When they hand a child a juice bottle or snack, they can name the item out loud. This technique even works with flashcards. A parent might hold up a flashcard with the word, “Jump,” while saying the word and jumping up and down.
The Behavior Exchange offers behavior classes based on the evidence-based practices of Applied Behavior Analysis. Families in the Dallas area can call (214) 556-3947 for more information.
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