Conversation Therapy In Daily Life
A question I am asked all the time is, "when will I be able to have a conversation with my child?" My answer is that you can have a conversation with them starting today. Merriam-Webster provides the following words as synonyms for conversation: dialogue, discourse, exchange. An exchange can take place verbally or nonverbally. It is often said that 93% of communication is nonverbal. This is where we can start with our loved ones that have difficulty with verbal language. We can start immediately. The first and most important step is to identify something that is of interest to your child. Then, participate in that interest. If your child loves to build trains, build trains together. Play peekaboo. Roll a ball back and forth. It becomes an interaction as soon as turn-taking takes place. In the beginning, you may have to facilitate the turns. Don't be discouraged. We all have to learn. If they are resistant to your facilitation, count a single turn as a success and gradually increase the number of turns over time. Celebrate the small successes and enjoy your time together. The key is the exchange which sets the foundation for conversation.
I am very blessed to work (and play) with some amazing families! This weekend, we had a party to celebrate the holidays and the move to our new farm. The weather did not cooperate. But, that did not stop our fun! We explored with our coats, hats, gloves, and boots, We gave the horses some love and fed them lunch. Then, we warmed up with a hot chocolate bar and made lollipop cookies that were not a “Pinterest fail.” So much fun had by all!
So, why am I blogging about a party? About fun? This is the best part! My clients and their families were engaged in therapeutic activity the entire party. No one was thinking about therapy (except me). But, everyone benefited. And, you better believe that with fun and engaging activities come memories. Making those memories while having fun increases the neuron building activity in the brain. Let's face it, we can all recall a party and the activities at that party much more easily than what we did while sitting at our desks at 9:30 this morning at work or school. How many times have you asked your child or friend what they did today? On a typical day, the answer is usually simple and lacking any real information. Something like, "not much," "I don't know," "went to school." If you continue to ask for more information, you may get a little detail about lunch, a friend, recess. Why is that? Because, we became alert during those times. We were engaged in those moments. We build memories and neural connections. For more information on the brain, see this link:http://www.asha.org/Events/convention/handouts/2011/Molt/
Now, back to the fun and functional. The following skills are just a sample of what my clients and their families experienced at our Holiday Party.
Receptive and Expressive Language/Augmentative and Alternative Communication
2. Asking and answering questions
3. Identifying and using prepositions
4.Identifying and using descriptors
5. Following directions
7. Sentence structure
8. Recalling details
9. Requesting wants and needs
10. Making Choices
Pragmatic Language/ Augmentative and Alternative Communication
1. Staying on task
2. Sharing materials
3. Using communication to advocate for themselves
4. Participating in a group activity
5. Social language use in context
7. Reciprocal interactions
8. Emotional control
9. Activity transitions
10. Accepting changes in activities
1. Sound and fluency production targets in context
2. Imitate and produce target sounds in isolation
3. Produce target sounds and fluency targets in words (initial, medial, final), phrases, sentences, and conversation.
4. Self monitoring and correcting
5. Facing speaking partner or group
6. Control rate of speech
7. . Increasing volume of speaking voice
8.. Repeat or reword utterance to clarify the message when asked.
9. .Practicing articulation and fluency with unfamiliar listeners in a controlled environment to facilitate confidence.
10. Practicing articulation and fluency in a social and natural context.
Executive Function Skills
1. Sustained attention
2. Task initiation
4. Working Memory
5. Response inhibition
6. Emotional Control
7. Planning and organizing
8. Goal directed behavior
9. Time management
1. Experiencing, tolerating, labeling, and discussing taste, temperature, and texture in food and play.
2. Gross motor activities in context for vocabulary, coordination, attention, and strength.
3. Fine Motor activities in context for vocabulary, coordination, attention, and strength.
5. Functional use of oral motor structures in social eating, drinking, and speaking.
Wow!! I could go on. But, if you made it this far, you probably need time to process. It's amazing what fun and functional therapy can do!