Tip of the Week: Teaching Language—Focus on the Stage, Not the Age

CHILD IN SPEECH THERAPYTeaching language skills is one of the most frequent needs for children with autism, but also one of the most misunderstood skillsets amongst both parents and practitioners. The desire to hear your learner speak in full sentences can be overwhelming, making it especially difficult to take a step back and consider what it means to communicate and how communication skills develop in neurotypical children. Many times we get hung up on what a child should be capable of communicating at a certain age, rather than focusing on what they are capable of communicating at this stage of development.

Many practitioners and curricula utilize Brown’s Stages of Language Development.* Brown described the first five stages of language development in terms of the child’s “mean length of utterance” (or MLU) as well as the structure of their utterances.

Brown_Grammatical_Structures_ChartFrom aacinstitute.org

 

Sometimes it is necessary to compare a child to his or her same-age peers in order to receive services or measure progress, but it can be detrimental to focus on what a child should be doing at a specific age instead of supporting them and reinforcing them for progress within their current stage.

Research has suggested that teaching beyond the child’s current stage results in errors, lack of comprehension, and difficulty with retention. Here are some common errors you may have witnessed:

  • The child learns the phrase “I want _____ please.” This phrase is fine for “I want juice, please” or “I want Brobee, please,” but it loses meaning when overgeneralized to “I want jump, please” or “I want play, please.” It’s better to allow your learner to acquire hundreds of 1-2 word mands (or requests) before expecting them to speak in simple noun+verb mands.
  • The child learns to imitate only when the word “say” is used. Then the child makes statements such as “say how are you today,” as a greeting or “say I’m sorry,” when they bump into someone accidentally. Here, the child clearly has some understanding of when the phrases should be used without understanding the meanings of the individual words within each phrase.
  • The child learns easily overgeneralized words such as “more.” This is useful at times, but the child can start using it for everything. Instead of saying “cookie” he’ll say “more.” Instead of saying “train,” he’ll say “more.” And he may say “more” when the desired item is not present, leaving the caregiver frustrated as he/she tries to guess what the child is requesting. Moreover, as language begins to develop, he may misuse it by saying things such as “more up, please.”
  • The child learns to say “Hello, how are you today?” upon seeing a person entering a room. A child comes into the classroom and the learner looks up, says “Hello, how are you today?” The child responds, “Great! Look at the cool sticker I got!” Your learner then doesn’t respond at all, or may say “fine,” as he has practiced conversations of greeting.

These are only a few of the common language errors you may see. While you may want your learner to speak in longer sentences, your goal should be to have them communicate effectively. With this goal in mind, it becomes essential to support them at their current stage, which means it’s essential to assess them and understand how to help them make progress.

This is why I always use the VB-MAPP to assess each child and make decisions about language instruction. I need to have a full understanding of how the learner is using language, and then move them through each stage in a clear progression. I may want the child to say “Hello, how are you today?” But when I teach them that, do they understand those individual words? Do they comprehend what today means as opposed to yesterday or tomorrow? Do they generalize the use of “how” to other questions?

As you make treatment decisions for your learner, think about their current stage and talk about how to support your child with both a Speech Language Pathologist and an ABA therapist.

*Brown, R. (1973). A first language: The early stages. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA
Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-15 in NYC. Working in education for twelve years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam utilizes strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently a PhD candidate in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College. She is also a lecturer in the ABA program at The Sage Colleges.

 

 

Pick of the Week: Save 20% off Wh-Questions Flashcards

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Help your students practice answering who, what, where, when, and why questions with our favorite selection of  Wh-Question Flashcards! Each deck features vivid imagery and guided activity instructions.
This week only, save 20% on your purchase of these select Wh-Question Flashcard Decks by using promo code QUESTIONS20 at checkout! 
Promotion expires 3/15/17 at 12:00am and applies only to items DRC 402, DRC 103, DRC 102, DRC 104, DRC 536, & DRC 113.

Back to School Savings on ALL Flashcards!

Gear up for the school year with our site-wide flashcards sale!

This week, you can take 15% off any set of flashcards from our website or catalog with promo code BTSCARDS at check-out!

Flashcards Collage

Products featured (left to right): Classifying with Seasons Fun DeckLanguage Builder Picture Cards;
Story Prediction Fun DeckBasic Vocabulary Photo Cards.

View our individual categories of flashcards below:

Promotion is valid on all flashcard products with item code ‘DRC’ until August 23, 2016 at 11:59pm ET. Not valid on VBATT (DRC 795), ALL PICS (DRC 110), ABLLS-R Data & Task Organizer Kit (DRC 710), and ABA Language Cards (DRC 790/DRC 791). Offer cannot be applied to previous purchases, combined with any other offers, transferred, refunded, or redeemed and/or exchanged for cash or credit. Different Roads to Learning reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion at any time. To redeem offer at differentroads.com, enter promo code BTSCARDS at checkout.

Pick of the Week: NEW! Super Duper Flashcards & Fun Decks — Teach parts of speech, vocab & more

We’ve added a bunch of new Super Duper® flashcards and fun decks to our collection! This week, you can save 15% on any of these select card decks that teach parts of speech and vocabulary — everything from nouns and irregular verbs to prepositions and synonyms! Use our promo code SUPERJUNE to redeem your savings at check-out.

With the Webber BIG Vocabulary Nouns Photo Cards, students will learn how to name, describe, identify attributes, compare and contrast, and formulate sentences in conversation with 600 vivid photo cards. This enormous set contains 5″ x 7″ photo cards that cover 14 different categories: Alphabet (26 cards); Animals (68 cards); Around the Home (80 cards); Clothing and Accessories (55 cards); Colors (12 cards); Food (83 cards); Numbers (11 cards); Occupations (46 cards); Places (70 cards); Plants (20 cards); School (38 cards); Shapes (7 cards); Toys (36 cards); Transportation (34 cards).

 

 

Synonyms Photo Fun Deck contains 28 pairs of photo cards to teach synonyms. Each pair of photo cards helps illustrate one sentence using two synonyms. This set also comes with game ideas for extra practice!

Each of the cards measures 2½” x 3½” and all come stored in a sturdy storage tin.

 

 

Irregular Verbs Fun Deck is a wonderful resource for teaching past and present tense for 26 irregular verbs pairs. Students will learn the ins and outs of “eat/ate,” “buy/bought,” “spend/spent,” and so much more. This illustrated fun deck will make teaching these difficult verbs fun and accessible for learners of all ages!

 

 

Don’t forget to use our discount code SUPERJUNE at check-out this week to save 15% on any of our select Super Duper card decks! View the entire sale here.

*Promotion is valid through June 28, 2016 at 11:59pm ET. Offer cannot be applied to previous purchases, combined with anyother offers, transferred, refunded, or redeemed and/or exchanged for cash or credit. Different Roads to Learning reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion at any time. To redeem offer at differentroads.com, enter promo code SUPERJUNE at checkout.

Celebrate Better Speech & Hearing Month with Us – 15% OFF Workbooks!

We’re celebrating Better Speech & Hearing Month with a special focus on auditory processing and expressive language skills. Today through the end of May, use our promo code SPCHLANG when you check out to take 15%* off some of our favorite speech and language workbooks!

These workbooks provide a wealth of activities that you can start using with your students immediately. Clearly organized and easy to use, each book is perfect for teachers.

View our entire sale here.

*Promotion is valid until May 31, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. Offer cannot be applied to previous purchases, combined with any other offers, transferred, refunded, or redeemed and/or exchanged for cash or credit. Different Roads to Learning reserves the right to change or cancel this promotion at any time. To redeem offer at differentroads.com, enter promo code SPCHLANG at checkout.

 

Autism Awareness Month: Free Owl Opposites Flashcard Activity

Encourage your students’ cognitive, language and word recognition skills with this free Owl Opposites Flashcards Printable from 1+1+1=1!

owl 1The entire set features an adorable pair of owl friends who demonstrate the following sixteen different opposites:

  • Short/tall
  • Hot/cold
  • Slow/fast
  • White/blackowl 2
  • Big/small
  • Clean/dirty
  • More/less
  • Dry/wet
  • Same/different
  • Light/heavy
  • Low/high
  • Hard/soft
  • Short/long
  • Front/back
  • Empty/full
  • Weak/strong

Laminate or print on cardstock for longer use and attach on a metal ring to keep the cards all together.

To print out your free Owls Opposites Flashcards, click here. We hope you and your students have a hoot with this printable!

Autism Awareness Month: Free Gum Ball Alphabet Matching Activity

Gumball Activity 1Start Autism Awareness Month on a sweet note with this gum ball alphabet matching activity! This free, easy-prep printable from lifeovercs.com and 123 Homeschool 4 Me helps young learners build strong letter recognition skills by asking them to match lowercase letter gumballs with uppercase letter gumball machines. All you have to do is print, cut and play!

Once your student gains mastery and confidence in their letter matching skills, consider asking them to complete the following more advanced tasks:

  • Sort the letters alphabetically
  • Sort vowels from consonants
  • Flip all the cards over for an instant memory letter matching game!

Gumball Activity 2To make sure that your letters last, we recommend printing the activity on cardstock or laminating the letters for longer use.

You can download this free printable here, but don’t forget to let us know in what other ways you and your students utilized this alphabet activity in the comments section!

Pick of the Week: Opposites & Adjectives Sale

Help students develop expressive language skills through the use of opposites and adjectives with these flashcards and puzzle sets! This week, you can also take 15% off any of these four great sets. Just apply promo code OPPADJ at check-out!

Adjectives: Opposites present both the concepts of adjectives and opposites, making this a truly useful and versatile set. These are the right adjectives to teach the young learner new language concepts. The set of 46 photo cards include: front, back, young, old, big, little, cold, hot, clean, dirty, few, many, near, far, tall, short, and more!


Opposites Language Cards
teach 10 different pairs of common opposites, including together/apart, dirty/clean, open/closed, thick/thin, and more. Each opposite is presented in a clear, non-distracting way in two different contexts to aid in generalization skills and help children understand different situations.

Opposites Fun-to-Know® Puzzle contains 48 puzzle pieces to create 24 different pairs of opposites and help teach cognitive skills and build word recognition. Each puzzle is self-checking.

 

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Adjectives ColorCards
contain beautifully clear large-format cards that illustrate a variety of adjectives in a side-by-side comparison. he concepts and vocabulary relate to common experiences and have been selected for use with a wide range of students with varying language abilities. There are multiple examples of each Adjective for generalization exercises. Each of the 48 cards measure 5 ¾” x 8 ¼”.

View the entire sale here.

*Offer expires on April 5, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. Not compatible with any other promotions or on past purchases. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code OPPADJ at check-out! Call (800) 853-1057 with any questions.

Pick of the Week: Teaching Language & Conversation Workbooks

Teach language and conversation skills to students with autism with these great books! This week, take 15% off any or all 3 of these great teacher guides and student workbooks. Use promo code LANGUAGE at check-out to redeem your savings.

DRB_380_Teaching_Kids_of_All_Ages_to_Ask_QuestionsTeaching Kids of All Ages to Ask Questions is a great source for teaching students at different levels how to ask and answer questions. The book also covers:

  • Simple past, present and future tense
  • Regular and irregular verbs
  • Progressive present, past, and future tense verbs
  • Perfect present, past, and future tense verbs
  • Perfect progressive present, past and future tense verbs
  • Negative questions
  • Conditional statements

This workbook is great for a comprehensive coverage of Wh-Questions within various contexts.

DRB_385_Teaching_Conversation_to_Children_with_AutismTeaching Conversation to Children with Autism Scripts and Script Fading provides step-by-step instructions to parents and teachers on how to teach conversation skills. Because many individuals with autism have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation, this book describes how scripts and script fading can provide a predictable and meaningful structure for these individuals to engage in conversation. The goal is for these scripts to then progress to spontaneous language. This book covers: scripts for readers and non-readers; conversation activities; activity schedules; prompts and rewards; and observing, evaluating and measuring results.

 

DRB_045_Teach_Me_LanguageTeach Me Language is a social language manual for children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and related developmental disorders. Based on professional speech pathology methods, this book targets social language, general knowledge, grammar and syntax, functional knowledge, written expression and language-based academic concepts. Teach Me Language is designed to take the child from one and two word utterances to more complex sentences that lay the foundation for social conversation.

Don’t forget to use our promotional code LANGUAGE at check-out this week to save 15%* on any or all of these books for teaching language & conversation!

*Offer is valid through March 22, 2016 at 11:59pm EST. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code LANGUAGE at check-out! Call (800) 853-1057 with any inquiries.

Pick of the Week: Clue Cards – 5 games in one to teach socioemotional skills

Clue Cards teaches students how to interpret social situations, read facial expressions, and understand metaphorical forms of speech. This week, you can save 15%* on Clue Cards – just enter promo code CLUECARDS when you check out online! Play 5 different games to teach inferencing, faces and feelings, body language, exploring Wh- questions, and a variety of common idioms!

Therapists, teachers and parents can uses the cards and games included in this set to help students perceive and understand the details of social presentation. Because the cards are flexible and adaptable, they can be used with both younger and older children, with mild or sever socioemotional difficulties. There are instructions for 5 different games along with 100 reward chips, targeted for players ages 6–16.

  1. Get a Clue: Players find “clues” in social situations and make inferences based on those clues (15 Social Situation Cards).
  2. Faces and Feelings: Link expressions with associated emotions (20 Feeling Cards, 20 Faces Cards).
  3. Body Language: Matching photos and captions, children explore body language for clues about thoughts and feelings (24 Photo Cards, 24 Caption Cards).
  4. The 5 W’s: Analyze 10 social scenes by asking “who-what-where-when-why” questions (10 Social Scene Cards, 1 Spinner).
  5. In Other Words: Learn the idioms and proverbs that often pop up in social conversation (30 Idiom Cards, 30 Idiom Definition Cards, 26 Proverb Cards, 26 Proverb Definition Cards).

*Offer lasts through March 1, 2016 at 11:59 PM EST. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code CLUECARDS at check-out! Not valid on past purchases.