Language – Part 2: Create Connection First
FROM BECKY: Hi Everyone, Have you ever experienced your special child being robotic in the way they talk, saying sentences that are mechanical sounding with little or no inflection in their tone of voice. I have experienced working with many children at The Autism Treatment Center of America and previously as a volunteer in The Son-Rise Program.
Remember when you were a young child and your parent told you “Say Thank you!” when someone did something nice for you or bought you a gift? I certainly do and I remember also saying it….but not really meaning it. The thing is, I had not really learnt the concept of gratitude yet so therefore was not coming from a sincere place and was more rehearsed, just because my Mum told me to say it. I was not really connected to that person or the experience but more moving toward what I wanted.
Later in life, I actually learned to love it when people offered a kind gesture or did something respectful, I learnt to want to communicate that to them so they knew how I felt and now when I say it, I really sincerely mean it.
In my experience, the biggest step toward helping your child be less robotic in their speech is to prioritize working on the connection first. Think about how your child learnt to talk to you, was it through you requesting them to say it? If so then it is not coming from a spontaneous place inside of them but more to get needs met versus to create a shared experience or connect with another human being.
Try dropping the requests for a while and celebrating and responding hugely when they are spontaneously deciding to use their voice. Whether they are clear in what they say or it is grammatically or contextually correct doesn’t matter so much as building a desire in your child to want to talk.
Spontaneous language is much more natural sounding and so let’s make a big deal out of that and show them we love it, and that they are successful at the same time.