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Language enrichment suggestions for a 5yo

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I've got a little fellow that is clearly struggling with language. I had a thread up here recently that detailed his issues more thoroughly but I thought that I would just make a new thread to collect some preschoolish ideas for language enrichment. My little one clearly has a limited vocabulary and struggles with understanding us in anything but the simplest language. He also struggles with annunciation and forming his own thoughts into spoken language. I'd say his language is probably at about a 36 months level, maybe lower. His 39 month old sister is definitely past him by a good measure but I suspect that she's a tad precocious.

What I'm thinking of is reading more simple picture books. Also, I was thinking of collecting all the simple nursery rhymes that don't have archaic or obscure language (like tuffet or curds and whey) and then trying go through a few daily without pressure to memorize. We sing as a family daily a mix of traditional hymns and Christian children's songs. What else do you think that I could add?

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You'd have a better roadmap if you got the VMPAC. 

Other things to consider:

-how many exposures he needs to learn the material

-what modalities he needs the matierial in to learn (or how many modalities)

-whether he can USE it or only comprehend it passively/receptively

-whether the skill generalizes so he can use the vocabulary, syntax, etc. in more settings

Books are great, but it's not what you're using but HOW you're using it. The singing is probably the least accessible to him and from what you're describing he's comprehending very little. You want music that is slower, has repetition, and that has pauses for response by the dc. There are social song cds meant for autism that have this.

I would try to set up multiple sessions throughout the day, 8-10, where someone sits down with him briefly for say 15 minutes and interacts on language targets. Have each person do it in a different room and with something different. So if you're working on colors, dc1 does it with a puzzle, dc2 does it with a picture book, dc3 does it with duplos, dc4 does it while sorting buttons dc5 does it while playing with math manipulatives, dc6 does it with food on his plate, dc7 does it while sorting laundry, dc 8 does it while on a walk.

-lots of exposures

-lots of modalities

-has to SAY it, not just listen

-lots of settings so you know the skill is generalizing

You can do it, yes. I also really like the MFW preschool activity cards. I use the fab.lexile.com generator to find books, because I can limit it by lexile, which is your language and syntactic complexity. But really, I wouldn't buy anything special. I would just use what you already have in really intentional ways. If you get a roadmap like the VMPAC, you're going to have this checklist and realize the things you need to be working on. Then you just do it. 

He's a lucky boy to be surrounded by so much love. Love + a PLAN is pretty powerful stuff.

Edited by PeterPan
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12 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

The singing is probably the least accessible to him and from what you're describing he's comprehending very little. You want music that is slower, has repetition, and that has pauses for response by the dc. There are social song cds meant for autism that have this.

I agree.

I know you are rural, but you might ask if the library has hands-on props for songs. You can make some, but sometimes the library has this stuff and loans it out. So, if you do a song like "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea," they might have all the props to stick the pictures one on top of the other. There are TONS of songs like this. There are books like, "The Little Red Hen" that have built in ways to expect a response.

And social songs fit a whole range--they will even have songs that talk about waiting while mom is on the phone; really, they have all kinds of stuff.

This might really be out there for your parenting style or beliefs, but my son really benefited from whiny, bald, Caillou on TV. He verbalized what my son was thinking, and my son would be calmer. Caillou is like a whiny social story. But it's not about the whining (the character is not petulant, just a worrywart)--Caillou verbalizes his thoughts all the time, and then his mom explains things to him. He's whining because he's a bit anxious, then he puts words to that, and his mom makes the connections for him in a very social story kind of way. It was astonishingly helpful for my son to see that full circle of explanation, see the character face new situations, have the explanation, and then also to know the words that went with the problem. Bonus, he learned to tie his shoes watching this show, lol! 

I mentioned this on the other thread, but explain everything, out loud, all the time. Talk about why you do this and not that ("I pour with two hands so that I don't spill the milk and make a mess"). Talk about your emotions and how you cope with them. If it runs through your mind and is applicable to a little kid, just say it out loud.

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Oh, model asking questions of yourself..."I wonder if it's cold outside today?" Then using language he knows, make some connections to the sun, or that another child of yours went outside with their heavy coat on, or whatever. Some things can be lost if he's not in touch with his body, but some things will be just putting words to common experiences.

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On 5/10/2019 at 12:17 PM, PeterPan said:

You'd have a better roadmap if you got the VMPAC. 

Other things to consider:

-how many exposures he needs to learn the material

-what modalities he needs the matierial in to learn (or how many modalities)

-whether he can USE it or only comprehend it passively/receptively

-whether the skill generalizes so he can use the vocabulary, syntax, etc. in more settings

Books are great, but it's not what you're using but HOW you're using it. The singing is probably the least accessible to him and from what you're describing he's comprehending very little. You want music that is slower, has repetition, and that has pauses for response by the dc. There are social song cds meant for autism that have this.

I would try to set up multiple sessions throughout the day, 8-10, where someone sits down with him briefly for say 15 minutes and interacts on language targets. Have each person do it in a different room and with something different. So if you're working on colors, dc1 does it with a puzzle, dc2 does it with a picture book, dc3 does it with duplos, dc4 does it while sorting buttons dc5 does it while playing with math manipulatives, dc6 does it with food on his plate, dc7 does it while sorting laundry, dc 8 does it while on a walk.

-lots of exposures

-lots of modalities

-has to SAY it, not just listen

-lots of settings so you know the skill is generalizing

You can do it, yes. I also really like the MFW preschool activity cards. I use the fab.lexile.com generator to find books, because I can limit it by lexile, which is your language and syntactic complexity. But really, I wouldn't buy anything special. I would just use what you already have in really intentional ways. If you get a roadmap like the VMPAC, you're going to have this checklist and realize the things you need to be working on. Then you just do it. 

He's a lucky boy to be surrounded by so much love. Love + a PLAN is pretty powerful stuff.

 

On 5/10/2019 at 12:39 PM, kbutton said:

I agree.

I know you are rural, but you might ask if the library has hands-on props for songs. You can make some, but sometimes the library has this stuff and loans it out. So, if you do a song like "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea," they might have all the props to stick the pictures one on top of the other. There are TONS of songs like this. There are books like, "The Little Red Hen" that have built in ways to expect a response.

And social songs fit a whole range--they will even have songs that talk about waiting while mom is on the phone; really, they have all kinds of stuff.

This might really be out there for your parenting style or beliefs, but my son really benefited from whiny, bald, Caillou on TV. He verbalized what my son was thinking, and my son would be calmer. Caillou is like a whiny social story. But it's not about the whining (the character is not petulant, just a worrywart)--Caillou verbalizes his thoughts all the time, and then his mom explains things to him. He's whining because he's a bit anxious, then he puts words to that, and his mom makes the connections for him in a very social story kind of way. It was astonishingly helpful for my son to see that full circle of explanation, see the character face new situations, have the explanation, and then also to know the words that went with the problem. Bonus, he learned to tie his shoes watching this show, lol! 

I mentioned this on the other thread, but explain everything, out loud, all the time. Talk about why you do this and not that ("I pour with two hands so that I don't spill the milk and make a mess"). Talk about your emotions and how you cope with them. If it runs through your mind and is applicable to a little kid, just say it out loud.

Thank you both for these suggestions. I'm really at the beginning of forming a plan. I guess you could say that I'm at the gathering information stage. I'm not good at the lots of modalities thing. My time is so short these days. A plan would help though.

A few years ago I invented one mini-intervention that I wonder if I could rework a little. When he was nearly non-verbal at 2.5 I to took pictures of everything that I could think of in his daily life on my phone. I then would sit down with him daily and used the pictures as flash cards. I'd ask "what's that" and he'd attempt an answer. He loved that game. I wonder if I could do something similar but instead of asking what the item is I could ask him all sort of questions about the picture. For example, if I took a picture of the stairs I could ask him, "what's at the top of the stairs", "what are the stairs made of", "who made the stairs", "what is under the stairs", "do remember when you fell down the stairs", "are our stairs different than Gramma's stairs", etc. A few silly questions would probably keep him nicely engaged. I'm thinking out load here.

I'm planning on call about an SLP tomorrow.

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Your intervention sounds very astute! And nothing you need to do right now is really more complicated than that. It's just getting a roadmap so you realize what areas to hit. 

The other things you'll watch for are generalization (that he can do it in lots of settings, with lots of tools, not only with you with the iphone). So for instance my ds learned his math facts and could do them in an app but when I brought in a different manipulative, he had to start all over and didn't know them. The magic number is usually *6* for generalizing, using it 6 different ways. Since you have helpers, you'll be able to make that happen nicely.

I love that you're realizing in your other thread the need to slow down and let him speak. His processing speed may be low, and dropping language speed is a BIG RECOMMENDATION for early on. Not crazy slow, but you want to drop it enough that he can catch what you're saying and really process. And yes, he may need time for things to come out. That's something you'll find as you get full evals and the IQ testing. Like I could give you my two cents, but it wouldn't mean much. Just know if he needs time, give it to him. Don't let people talk over him.

So then your other biggee, besides generalization, is making sure he's actually USING whatever you worked on. If it's language, he needs to use it, not just understand it. Crimson mentioned in your other thread that there are some swanky terms for VBA and she's right. You can handle 'em though. A lot of the idea with VBA is making language POWERFUL, so we want him to MAND with his language and use it to gain access. But there's a hierarchy, sure. It's just know that's your final step, using it to mand (and eventually using the language in narratives). 

Our SLP had us put up everything in the house that ds wanted access to, and she told us to require language, whatever ds had, for ANYTHING he wanted. Want more milk or the next bite? Say /a/. Like that was literally all he had at age 2, so that's what we were trying to get, over and over. Toys, the next step, up into the car, he can use his language and use it and use it. But that was for apraxia and we really needed an insane amount of practice to get motor planning to cement, sigh. But still, it's something to notice, what the books are saying on how to weave language work into life and how much to require it. I forget, because I read the books after we were through this stage. So I don't really remember what the books said for straight ASD without the apraxia. But for us, yeah we were constant, everywhere we could require language, we did. And the whole gig is the POWER of language. It's what makes it a verbal BEHAVIOR, because behaviors happen when you use the verbal, ie. the language has power. And conversely, if his language doesn't have power, why will he bother to use it? 

So when you work with him, yes you'll do your tacting/labeling activities, but try to move into language having power for him. Like set up the farm and he says which piece he wants next as you play. We did a ton with Playmobil, and there's so much language there. Make the language powerful.

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one thing we did was split the task. sib and I would do the toy/puzzle/drama related activities; dh would take the preschooler and older sib out to the park or walk around neighborhood and converse with them as they did or saw things.  Then we started a running story, which involved sewer grates. Just like you do taking turns reading pages in a book with an older child, in this story you take turns saying what happens next when the group encounters a sewer grate or an interesting sight.  Interesting sights are things like woodpeckers, beehives, asphalt paving, fire trucks.....when they arrived home, I'd ask the dc for a recap.

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I agree with all of the ideas for injecting extra language into his day.

I was thinking back to when DS15 had speech delay as a toddler. The early intervention speech therapist told me to talk less. This seems counter to what I just said about agreeing with adding language. But the Talk Less idea, as I remember it, was specifically for encouraging conversation. Don't fill all of the space with your words; leave time for him to think about what you have said and to respond.

So I think do both. Be deliberate about adding language to his day. But also be careful to use simple language that you know he can understand, to build comprehension. And leave some silence for him to respond. (If he does not respond, you can prompt him).

Also, for responses, observe his nonverbals as well. Make eye contact with him, smile and see if he smiles back. Nodding, shrugging, frowning, laughing, etc. Nonverbals are important for communication.

I understand that it's hard to find time and to do things in many different ways when you have so many kids to take care of. I have only four, and I found it hard. But if your kids are willing, I like PeterPan's idea to assign each of them a time to talk and play with him during each day, one on one. When DS received early intervention, a lot of it was through play -- the interventionist would get down on the floor with DS and the toys and work to engage him.

At some point each day, it might also be good to pair him with his three year old sister in some kind of deliberate play, where they take turns and interact. They may do this naturally, but if not, you could pair them.

I like the My Father's World preschool things, too. It's different now than when we used it -- some of the items are different, and they have split it into age three and age four. But when we used it, we received a very nice list of all of the ways one could use the puzzles, and many of the ideas I would never have thought of. It was not a curriculum back then; just a little brochure, but I bet they have included all of that information in their new format.

https://www.mfwbooks.com/wps/portal/c/learn/discover

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