Q&A Session 7
Q&A Session 7 with the Director of The Son-Rise Program, Bryn N. Hogan
Topic: Difficulty Developing Spoken Language
I am writing as a professional rather than a parent and there is a
little boy I see once per week who has autism, is 9 years old and who
does not use speech yet. He has good receptive language and he will make
sounds experimenting with his voice.
He is generally compliant and can be quite interactive at times. He is
fabulous with complying with requests, but the one area of trouble I
have is that he so rarely seems to want anything that it makes it
difficult to develop his spoken language, i.e. it is as though there’s
not too much that’s actually motivating for him in terms of toys or
activities or games, etc.
Have you any thoughts on this matter?
You pose an interesting question. Often, when a child is not interested
in traditional motivators (playing catch, chase games, tickling, etc.)
it seems as though they have nothing that they want. But everyone has a
motivation. You may have to become a bit of a (happy) detective though,
to figure it out.
Here are some things to try:
- Watch him and see what he likes to do. Whatever are the dominant
things he does, those are motivations for him. You may be able to tap
into some of those, i.e. if he likes listening to himself clapping, you
may find that your own clapping, or another percussive instrument might
catch his fancy.
- This is where the design of the Son-Rise Playroom can come into
play. You may remember, we encourage families and professionals to
utilize a high shelf, so that when a child wants something it is not
readily available; instead, they have to interact in some way with their
facilitator to get what they want. If the child has things that are
within reach for him, then he has no reason to learn how to speak.
- Some non-traditional (but very motivating) things for certain
children are snacks and drinks. If he likes to eat an apple, for
example, cut it up into little pieces and put it on the shelf. When he’s
hungry, give him just a few pieces instead of the whole apple. Now, you
can ask him to verbally communicate to get another piece. If your child
isn’t eating and you are trying to encourage him to eat more, don’t try
this approach. This is specifically for children who are clearly
motivated to eat or drink.
- He may like particular things from you if you let yourself try
them out: squeezing his arms, feet, hands, and head (with his
permission, of course); belting out a song to him in a funny voice;
running around the room whooping and hollering if he so much as looks at
you. Any of these (or other things you could try) may prove to be a
motivation for him
Q&A Session 7