Pragmatic activities can be hard to practice in a natural way at home; it can often feel forced, as the scenario is within speech practice time, and not in a natural situation. That is why it is important to choose the right time and type of activities to get the best results. Here are some tips and ideas on where to start.
Greetings and Salutations
Many children have difficulty with greetings, especially children with Autism. This is because social greetings like ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ do not hold any meaning apart from being a social nicety. We say them to be polite, but they do not serve a purpose and therefore it can be difficult to teach children that struggle socially to use these greetings.
When teaching social greetings it is important to explain when and how to use them as well as the social consequences of not using them, even if it seems obvious, it may not be to everyone. Once you have gone through these details and a practice run of the scenario, wait till the next appropriate situation to practice as many children that struggle socially will need the environmental cues of the scenario in real life to learn when social greetings should be used.
Each day when you see the child for the first time, give a gesture to remind them of what they have to say and stall the next activity until they use the social greeting appropriate for the situation. For example if you are picking your child up from school, do not start the car to go home until they say ‘hi mum’ or ‘hi dad, how are you?’. Waiting for them to initiate indicates to them that they must provide a greeting in order for the interaction to progress.
Stay on Topic
Topic maintenance can be a real struggle for many children, not just those with Autism. Having visual reminders is helpful in maintaining a topic of conversation. The dinner table can be a great place to practice topic maintenance by taking turns around the dinner circle at adding on an additional piece of information about a topic. You can use the plates of food as a visual and keep the conversation going about each plate that is passed around. To make the task harder you can use difficult topics of conversation which are broader and use pictures as visual cues or get rid of the visuals all together.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions or concerns, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.