My son has been in speech therapy for the last few months. Meeting with his therapist once a week is good, but what he does daily at home will have a much greater impact on his speech. For this reason, I have been reading books to help me help him move toward more verbalization (maybe I should say more recognizable words because he's very verbal, we just don't understand the words yet).
I've discovered an amazing book, Play to Talk, by James MacDonald and Pam Stoika. I urge anyone whose child is struggling with speech to read this book. It's excellent.
In an effort to better understand the concepts in this book myself, I'm going to be sharing them with you. As they say, the teacher learns far more than the student, so if I can explain these concepts in a coherent and cohesive way perhaps they will better cement in my mind and I will be a more beneficial teacher for my son and anyone who reads my posts will, hopefully, learn a few things as well. Of course, my posts will never substitute for reading this book.
One of the first pieces of advice is to teach your child to take turns. Conversations are about taking turns. Kids who do not have a speech and/or language delay learn this concept almost invisibly. It's amazing to me how much I took for granted with my other children. I never stopped to think about how things worked with developing speech, they just spoke. With my son, I am now discovering all of the steps necessary to begin speaking that my other kids just naturally and seamlessly took without my notice.
Some of the suggestions for taking turns:
Wait for the child to respond to what you've said or done
Don't dominate the exchange
Give the child a clue that you expect him to respond
As a parent of a child who was expected to be delayed, I'm very anxious for him to speak (I really want to know what's going on in that little mind of his) and I need to remind myself to be patient. Sometimes, taking turns can be a long, drawn out process, but it teaches the child that conversations are about turns and give-and-take.
A technique I've used to help teach my son about taking turn is playing with a ball with him. Rolling, tossing, or throwing a ball back and forth has helped him learn how to take turns. I've also done this with a toy car, bus, or other toy. I've also taken turns with him in building with blocks. I try to look for opportunities to take turns with him, even doing it with sharing an ice cream.
I let him know that it's his turn by saying it, showing him the sign, or simply looking at him and waiting. He responds well to taking turns and he's even translated that to taking turns with toys with other kids--not every time, but most of the time he takes turns.
He also takes turns when he "talks" to me. He'll say something, usually garbled words, and then he waits for me to respond. I think this is a valuable strategy.
I'll continue to share what I'm learning in this book.