Language, Therapy Tools, Thoughts and Inspirations

Revist: Encouraging Spontaneous Communication

As I’ve been working with graduate students and guiding them to incorporate strategies to increase their client’s spontaneous communication during therapy sessions, I’ve been covering some of the basics like:

  1. Ask open-ended questions, avoiding questions that can be answered with a simple yes/no or other one word answer
  2. Provide choices as much as possible, encouraging statements of preference
  3. Try not to anticipate the needs of a child – allow them time to formulate their wants and ideas into their own verbal attempts
  4. Set up the environment purposefully with preferred items out of reach
  5. Use visual supports to increase communication independence
  6. Provide modeling and expansion of a produced utterance– reinforce verbalizations and show them how to take it one step further

Beyond these basics, there are a few strategies I have blogged about in the past that people seem to particularly appreciate. My post on Communication Temptations is a steady favorite, along with my handouts for encouraging speech and language skills in the classroom and home settings. One particular blog post has been making the rounds again on Pinterest and Facebook — my Top Five Ways to Encourage Spontaneous Language. I do like this post quite a bit, not just because I still stand behind the content but also because it pretty much captures who I am.  Reading the post gives you a glimpse at my therapy style (and my general personality, I believe,) and highlights what I feel is a real desire to connect with children in the moment. The techniques I recommend in the post are not necessarily natural for many people, especially new therapists, but I am encouraging the graduate student clinicians I supervise to give these five tricks (and many others) a try as they discover their own therapy styles.

Interested in my Top 5 Ideas? Here is the link to my original post:

3 thoughts on “Revist: Encouraging Spontaneous Communication”

  1. I’ve often been told to ask open ended question but have found that to be incredibly hard. My best strategy is James D. MacDonald’s “Comment More Than Question”. I find that if I just start talking about what I am doing, what I am seeing and what I am thinking children will match that and begin to talk about what they do, see and think. Much more effective than a barrage of questions.

    1. Definitely! You just made another bullet on my list! I love statements like “I wonder…” and other comments that trigger curiousity and tempt communication naturally. However, direction on the types of questions to ask is needed for many people as well. I hear a lot of “Do you like…” or “Do you want…” which of course only require a 1 word answer.

  2. this is spectacular! my parents will appreciate this, and it would be wonderful to incorporate into a parent training session. Thank you!

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