Teaching your child to communicate shouldn’t be complicated or make life harder. Let’s keep it simple.
Kids love to play, kids love pushing buttons. Capitalize on your child’s natural curiosity by reciprocating the interest. Pull the “I Want to Tell You… I Love You” red book out at a meal time, with a highly preferred food. Initiate joint attention by offering a first bite, and allow the child the opportunity to request more. Don’t be too quick to offer the next bite! Let the child reach, gesture, or make eye contact to indicate that he or she wants more, then emphatically say “more!” while signing more, then taking the child’s hand in your hand, and pushing the more button. Repeat this process with every bite. When the child is signaling he or she is finished with the meal, follow the same steps- an enthusiastic verbal “all done!” while simultaneously doing the sign language, and followed by pushing the “all done” button with the child’s hand.
The same sequence can be followed when the child needs help, needs assistance with toileting, and requests to eat or drink. The “I love you” button is more for you the caregiver, because we all want to hear those precious words. During a special time together, initiate pushing the button and doing the sign language, and allow your child the opportunity to tell you he or she loves you. Whatever route the child takes, embrace it!
The “I Want to Tell You… How I Feel” blue book can be used to teach and label emotions. Giving a child the power to state he or she is frustrated can lead to reduced anxiety! And with Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety is a big chunk of the battle.
The “I Want to Tell You… Let’s Eat” green book can be used like a menu, helping the child communicate what he or she wants to eat. If feeding challenges exist, look for patterns in what he or she requests or rejects. Are all the food items brown? Are all the food items crunchy? Plain? Highly flavorful? Look for patterns. Your child is giving you clues. Behavior is communication! It’s our job to decipher it.
The remaining books give your child an inventory of words. Once the accessibility to the words has been established, your child will want to communicate his or her desires- he wants to swing, she wants to swim, he wants his trucks, she wants to pick her own shirt. Once the motor plan has been established, your child will begin asserting his or her own independence in a developmentally appropriate way! So exciting!
If you are experiencing success or setbacks, we want to know! Share your story with us, ask questions! If you have a video or photo of your child experiencing the joys of communication with the books, please send it to us so we can add it to our gallery! We want every child to be celebrated, with his or her special abilities! And congratulations to you too, for all your hard work and diligence.