How To Increase Social Communication In The Early Years

Okay, thank you guys. Welcome. Thanks for coming today. My name is Michele Danneels. I’m one of the coaches at autism 360 and I’ve been a speech pathologist for over 20 years. I’m originally from New York and was living in New Zealand for 18 years before moving to Australia a year ago. The strategies I was going to discuss today, many of them are from something called the Hanen program. Maybe you guys have heard of that before. Yeah. And I just called out the things that I’ve used in the past that I’ve found really beneficial and really helpful. And I’d be so curious to know as we’ve progressed your thoughts and if there’s things that haven’t worked for you maybe, how we can tweak it or how we can modify, because not every child’s different and not everything’s gonna work all the time in that moment, but we can always, it, yes, it can be tailored.

Found these strategies very powerful for parents and caregivers. You are your child’s first teacher. You are a constant in your child’s environment. You can use these strategies in everyday activities and daily routines, and this context for learning, and you’ll be able to promote generalization and language skills and social communication skills. So that’s that in a nutshell. Okay, so everything’s shared, okay, Ella on that end. Great. 

How Responsiveness Promotes Language Development

Research has shown that parents in parent implemented intervention demonstrated improved use of language facilitating . Strategies and decreased stress level. So this is, I just put like this here. It’s a little bit like dry, but it’s just like we started to showing that parents are very powerful people and helping their children in their everyday communication at home in their daily lives, at the farm, the supermarket on. And if you respond, especially to what the child’s interested in, the child is more likely to make more a communicate of attempts and be more motivated to continue to remain interacting with you and, and remaining engaged. If the child is increasing his or her initiations to engage with you, that same child, they’re increasing their practice in communicating.

And the secret is teaching children and motivating them to want to make to get that connection that if I do something in particular, a certain way or certain ways, I may get what I want and it’s just they don’t always know. They just haven’t made that connection at all. If a child is increasing the amount of engagement and the interaction that same child is at the same time, increasing their opportunities to learn from let any language input, because when the child is engaged in something they’re motivated by, they’re more likely to want to keep engaging with you because they’re already motivated by what they’re doing, what they’re interested in. And that’s like the secret, like the way I have found over the years. Sorry, it just takes a little bit. 

The Hanen Approach

So the Hanen approach was created to address research indicating that parent involvement is crucial to a child’s intervention program. So I know like as a speechie, like, some of the kids, they can only go once or twice a week. And then when they come home, of course they’re back into busy lives, daily routines and everything. What I liked about this program is the simple strategies that can be very powerful. And if they’re not working how we here at autism 360, you know, how I can help support that and tweak it. Yeah. And maybe your child’s, you know, very at a different level and it’s it’s can be very broad this program with age groups which is quite good on the approach advocates the natural environment. So it’s things of course you can do. And it provides them with opportunities to communicate with the key people in their lives. So this can be like, once you are in implementing it, you can show siblings and parents and relatives and everybody. 

Step 1: OWL – Observe, Wait, & Listen

So for the first thing that I do is I ask a parent, I just watch their child pay close attention, and this can be tricky because some children have restricted interests or you know, some parents will say to me, you know, my child, isn’t playing with toys yet, but that’s okay because if they’re very sensory seeking and maybe they prefer jumping up and down and they’re vocalizing and they’re really happy. Then that’s what I recommend. That’s where you’re going to go to. 

So the idea is maybe just jotting down some things or paying, we’re just watching. And when they’re doing something that’s interesting to them, whether, and it doesn’t have to be like functional play because they might not be at that level, you know, doing that yet. So if they’re just jumping up and down, you can jump up and down and be excited too. And then you can stop and wait and you’re going to watch them. So this is kind of a leading into the waiting, which I’ll get more into. So at Hanen center, they call this the strategy that observe, wait, listen. And like I said before, it’s just really good aquest the developmental stages, because if your child’s two or your child’s seven, you’re working with what they’re interested in. Great. 

Six Steps To Follow The Child’s Lead

So there’s six steps. So the six steps that start with this following the child’s lead. So it’s like, you’re going to copy them. So first you’re going to observe, find out what their interests are, and then I’ll get into the waiting after, and then next coming videos about the importance of waiting. And then it’s that listening, listening to how they’re communicating. It could be eye contact, fleeting. It could be reaching, you know, revving your hand. And then the next step will lead into getting on the floor with them if they allow you. And if they don’t, we’ll talk about that. And then the goal would be like, eventually being able to join in and play with what their interests. And then it’s kind of like getting them excited and you being animated to giving them a reason to want to communicate with you when they’re in those, when they’re interested in what they’re doing and they’re excited and happy.

How To Increase Social Communication In The Early Years

So I’ll just play this video. It’s just a cute little video that kind of just shows just the basic steps. And again, I’m very interested to hear, like I’ve been there. I’ve done that Michele. It’s not working. Interrupt me any time during presentation to let me know or to put it in the chat because it helps me and I can hopefully draw on my experience to say, well, maybe we can do try this instead.

And again, they show toys in that scenario, but again, if your child isn’t interested in the toys and even if they are interested in a toy, but not playing with it in a, in what we would consider a functional way, it’s a way that they like to play with it. That’s awesome. Because you can leave it to demonstrating the modeling of how we play with toys, but the main thing in the beginning is you just want to increase their motivation to even want to interact with you all. So the main thing is like, you can copy what they’re doing with the toy, as long as you feel it’s appropriate, what they’re doing, if you know what I mean? Yeah. So any questions anybody. 

I have a question, Michele. So my son um, as I said, he turned two in October, and he really enjoys playing with his train set and with trucks. So he will often say, play with trucks, play with trains, you know, that sort of thing. And he’ll say, you know, mommy come and play. So that’s fine. And he likes, you know, just putting the trucks around the tracks, the trains around the track or whatever. And I’ve tried on a couple occasions to kind of incorporate some creative play into that. So, you know, setting up a train station where little people can get on or, you know, whatever. Honestly, I’d find train sets so incredibly boring, but I mean, he loves it, you know? 


That’s his favorite thing to do. And I just wonder, you know, I feel like if I followed this advice of always following his lead, we would only ever play with trucks and trains because, you know, that’s his favorite thing. And I just wonder what the balance is between doing that and try to introduce more of a variety of things.

Yes, absolutely. I totally get that. And in the early days, like this is like the early stuff and in the early days we’re taking that child’s sleep, but absolutely over time, once you have their, if they’re verbal, either with visuals or AAC . Once they’re using their words and they’re in their own way. And they’re telling you, know how to engage with you and ask you, you know, come join me then. Definitely it’s another level. And yes, we would want to introduce, like, maybe try to introduce some new toys, but maybe what I would do is like start slowly. So if peace isn’t just trains, like, is he interested in other things with wheels? Excellent. Do you feel like, what I find is the best way to increase communication in language and it is ad nauseum is too is you can use other toys, but don’t get me wrong, but is to stick with this also, because this is what drives him. And you can always extend him, like you were saying, and you can model new language and he will be motivated by that. And he’ll be more likely to engage. 

So if we choose something completely different, you know what I’m trying to say? Does mean you can’t. You can choose something different sometimes and you just play with it yourself and make it look exciting and enticing him even while he’s playing trains. He might not go to you right away in might, you have to do it in a different scenario, but it might be that you bring out a new toy and you just like, make it exciting and you’re using it and talking about it. And he might be curious, you know, sometimes they don’t like change and new things and they’re a little bit like, I’m not, I’m not touching that. Or, but if you just like, leave it on the table and walk away, like sometimes, and just do that owl, you might find that you might pick it up and. 

Yeah, totally. Totally. Yeah, it’s just, it’s always something I’ve kind of thought about is, you know, I mean. To be fair, he does enjoy duplo any, and he will play Play-Doh for a little while, but his go-to is always the vehicles and things. So, yeah, and I do, as I said, I try and introduce new concepts to that. That’s not his preferred way of playing with the trains. He just really likes to, you know, just get the track trains. 

Right. If you comment on what he’s doing and you just comment and you’re just modeling. He might be listening and not looking at you. Sometimes they, it could be a couple of things. So it kind of, they can’t look and listen at the same time to absorb and process what you’re saying. Sometimes it’s just more ritualistic and they’re not in that mood. Like they just want to sell Sue they’re calm. And they’re, they’re just kind of doing that. It’s that repetitive. I don’t know if that’s what you’re finding with your son and he’s just doing that with it. 

Well, he does like to do things and I do kind of commentate on what’s going on and things like that. But, yeah, there’s just, I don’t find there’s that much to work with in the sense. It’s just the same conversation over and over again, you know, about the carriages and this and that, you know?

Yes. Does he have access to the whole thing all the time? Is there a way that if you’d be much? Yeah. Would you, I mean, I’m just trying to think, like, would it work like, it might not work because he’s very used to this. If this is a very attached boy, whereas where you give like maybe only certain amounts and leave the rest in a box, see, and maybe he has to like, request for some of the pieces and maybe you can be like, where does it go? And maybe like, have him try to help you, like build it if he would be engaged with that would be willing? 

I’ve got a new kind of toy storage system now where it’s actually a lot, everything’s a lot more accessible to him. So that means that he really just kind of goes to the stuff that he likes. So it might be a question of rotating.

Yeah, absolutely. That’s another thing you can do as well. Absolutely. And you can try, like to think with the trends, like, is he interested in anything that you do? Like if you put people in it or any little boys or other bits in it, or you can model how you can get new, some trains yourself with him, and maybe try to see if we’ll be interested in the way you are doing the trains and modeling.

Like maybe like people getting on the train, you know, just things like that, like changing it. Does that help Sarah? Okay. Thank you. And if there’s anything that you like, no Michele not satisfied with that. Please let me know in the chats. And because I I’m one of those that likes to get to the bottom of it, you know, and make sure that I’ve given you something you can walk away with.

So on the once the parent like observes, wait, listen. And so you might find that . Your child’s like pass some of this. So, yeah, but just let me know. I can still answer your questions throughout that are like next level. On the parents should respond. It has to be step. I take the child’s lead. And of course the closer that the language input is in response to what they’re focused on, the more meaningful it will be for them. So I know, sorry, you might have to like, be like, yeah, it’s just finding how to create, you know, more scripts with the trains and yeah. And then like, I like driving, you know, changing up toys. That’s a good one. If you can find what he’s interested in, you know, as long as he’s interested that we’ll have. 

Step 2: Follow The Child’s Lead

When we imitate, so we copy what the child says or does, and against our, you would be doing the next step. You’d be modeling that higher level language. And yeah. And when we am playing alongside and maybe with your trains modeling different things, and when we imitate the child, the child does feel validated and just more likely to continue doing the things. There’ll be more likely to continue doing that thing. So it could be like, if it like a certain sound that they make or an action. And when you copy that, this is in the early years, they might be excited because you’re making that connection with that. You’re going into their world. Imitation can increase engagement as the child may find what you show them interesting. And what the idea is here is not just not verbal imitation. It could be gross motor, like what we’re trying to meet the child where they’re at. And the idea is you’re getting this back and forth. So that you would get later on in natural conversations. 

So it’s like, even like turn-taking with language, like when we have with our babies on the changing table and they’re babbling and they stop and you, and you babbled back and then they babble back, and this is kind of what this builds into. And then it advances from there when we imitate the heart to engage child, that child may just stop. Like I’ve seen children act like they’re totally not interested and I might be playing alongside them with a different toy or the same toy. And sometimes I can see like a leading eye contact, like when I used that owl really intently. And I know that they’re like taking it in and it just might take time. You decide which behaviors of course, hopefully or not for imitation. 

Importance of Imitation

So depending on your child’s level of language development, again, you might be just imitating actions, vocalizations, or there were. So if your child is using only actions and pushes your hand, just say to blow more bubbles, of course, this goes back to that opportunity. Like you, where you would say, you know, you want bubbles, but I get children that are echolalic and they’ll say, you know, they might have just repeat that back. You want bubbles? And so in this situation, I’ll always say, speak for the child and the first person that you want to be like, I’m on bubbles. And if your child is beginning to use words, repeat that what your child has said, and you can, you know, say, you know, I want to bubbles. Or, if your child, for example, if they say, blah, blah, blah, you know, you can model bubbles and then it lead into, I want bubbles, or you can say, do you want bubbles? But again, if they repeat back, you want bubbles, you want to teach them to speak in the first person. Like you’re helping them speak to them. So whenever you’re imitating is what you want them to say, if they’re echolalic. Does that make sense? 

Cool. It’s good to say what you think your child would say. And I found this a lot working with children over the years, even if I was slightly wrong, obviously not when they’re in a meltdown, like getting into a meltdown and they’re really upset, but I did find like if I was really watching during play, I was on the floor with them. I could just learn to read like what they were trying to maybe say it’s like an intuitive thing. 

And I felt that that really helps that connection and it could help decrease frustration again, not always, if they’re really like, go on it now, it’s more just when you’re preempting before you get to that level and you see, oh, they’re looking at me that, oh, I think they really want me to do more of that or anything, but it’s just watching your child and looking at those nonverbal communications, if it’s just leading eye contact, reaching out, taking your hand and leading you as a big one, you know, anything like that, that’s that opportunity where we’re going to model and we don’t expect perfection here, and we’re not wanting to get your child into a state of meltdown.

We always want to give them the item or any, or blow the bubbles for any communicative attempt that they make in that moment. So that’s why you have to owl like, really look at them because you might be like holding the bubbles and you know, bubbles and you’re waiting and you’re looking and they might not be able to say it, but even if they look at you, you blow right away because you’re just trying to make that connection back. If you try to make that interaction, you may get what you want.


Just wanted to ask Michele. Yeah. So I see a lot of parents who don’t necessarily assess the hand dragging as a communicative rights attempt they sought, I guess maybe because it’s, you know, it’s not a verbal attempt, they’re not sort of assessing it in that way. I mean, is there a typical. You know, so say, say, a kiddo was doing a hand drag to the cupboard for a snack. What do you think would be like a really concrete suggestion for what a parent could do in that moment to capture that communicative attempt as a learning moment? 

Absolutely. And I hope that when you see the next videos, I’ll be getting to that, but I’ll answer that quickly. Absolutely. And it also depends on the child and where they’re at. Like, if they’re pointing great, he goes for it if they’re not pointing. But the main thing is, is that you want to follow them to see what they’re trying to get and what they. And you want to see an and see what they’re trying to get at. And if you think, you know, you would model again like, oh, you want, you want cookie? Or if they’re echolalic you might be, oh, I want cookie. And then you might, and depending on where the child’s at, it could be a visual. It could be AAC. 

But the idea is we’re going to move away, my job is to help the parents like move away from just the dragging into functional communication, where they can learn to request in an inappropriate, inappropriate ways so that you get past. So it might be through pointing. It might be through a word. It might be through a visual. And we’ll talk about how we can set up the environments to encourage that motivation, to communicate using light communication temptation. 

So I won’t stick with this slide very long. It’s just that I want people to embrace the communication milestones associated with echolalia and that’s a topic for another day, but with greater understanding, it is a wonderful communication, milestone and connections can be established using echolalia. And usually I recommend in the, is you can speak in that first person to model for them, even if they don’t understand it yet, do your actions and over time, and you can then use their own spreads, but that’s for another day. 

I’ll get to it, Ella, but this is just basically just reinforcing that the importance of play and that we can get a different set of poise and play alongside them to try to get on before. At least feel more comfortable if they’re not comfortable with you engaging directly with them, you can just lay next to them with something that might interest them. 

Importance of Waiting

So I will go ahead. I think the looked at that the importance of waiting. So Ella, I can skip over some of this. If people feel like this is kind of light on, sort of know this already, that importance of waiting and where you stop and you can wait. And the idea is you want your child. If they’re, if they can, they can use the word where they can use their body language, sort of like withholding and waiting. And it’s just that idea. Like if you have the bubbles. You know, like a couple of times you might say ready, steady go and you blow, blow. And then after a few times you might be ready and you just wait. And if they go, you know, you blow. Or if they look at you, you blow. Or if they say. Bubba, whatever you blow.

And that idea is you’re going to increase their motivation to want to start communicating in any way. And that’s what we want initially is just, and then we lead it into what Ella was saying like, if they’re taking your hand to go in the bubbles, you know what I mean? You’re going to teach them how we might, how we might use a sign or use a word or yeah, anything that will take them away from the grabbing a mismatching to knowing that they will get what they want, but we’re just going to get them excited for show them, wait that little bit. And that’s why we would want them quickly in the early days, because we want to keep them on track and motivated. And then as they wait longer and longer, it gets a little bit easier. They start to understand the value in this because they know that they’re going to get what they want, but then you can, it’s easier than to, like I find implement some of those other, those more appropriate strategies. Does that make sense? Okay. 

Setting Up The Environment For Communication

So this is where we set up the environment. So this is kind of leading into like that, that hands pulling. So we want to implement strategies that create multiple opportunities throughout the day. So we want the child to come to you so that they can go, that you can shape. They’re taking your hand and leading you to what they want. Into like appropriate ways to request the first we have, it helps to have those temptations and it helps to, it could be a cookie, it could be anything, but if a child can reach everything and this is not about withholding from children, like, you know, main meals, right. It’s nothing like that. It’s just about, getting your child, you know, keeping things like snacks. I find her great certain toys and you want to just keep them out of reach because if the child has nothing to request your ask for and they have access to everything they build, they’re very, self-sufficient, you know, they’ll just keep doing that. There’s not that motivation to want to come to you because it’s not natural. And that’s that core trait that we want to help support so that we can shape that interact, that request. Any questions. And I’m sorry if I miss things in the chat.

How Do You Use A Communication Temptation To Get Your Child To Talk

So first again, you need to find a toy activity or, or a snack. So this is just talking about finding what’s and throughout the day it could be certain toys, it could be certain snacks. And then you say during that activity, you model to the child so they can learn how to commute. And your model should be slightly. I already said that it’s slightly more advanced. You do it at the child’s level. So if your child’s not speaking again, you would model like that cookie. You want it to be, so when you’re at that pantry with them, there’s either a visual on the pantry that you’re working on or they’re signing or they’re pointing.

And because otherwise, if it’s just on the counter and they grab it, that’s a missed opportunity. And if you give them like the whole bag of chips, again, that’s a missed opportunity. So I kind of dread every step out, like the chicks, I might like, you know, open, like help to have them, you know, gesture open or try to stay open rather than.

So they have to work for that. And then it might be, I take out two chips and put them in the bowl, or I just give them the two chips. Then the idea is they have, you know, the idea is not just that you’re working on just more all the time, but the idea is, is that you want to increase that those interactions and those appropriate ways to request that we could be again, like an actionist sign that you’re always monitoring. That’s slightly advanced level than what they’re doing on their own. Does that make sense, guys? 

In The Environment

Okay. So this is the environment and I find this very powerful . I don’t know if that’s kind of leading again into your question. If you take some, so you can take some of your toys that your child really. And if they’re very rich, like I was saying to Sarah, they’re very ritualistic. Like there’s certain things that are harder than others. It’s gotta be something that they don’t, you know, get really upset with that. If they’re really attached where it’s more of self soothing, calming, if does, if that makes sense, it’s gotta be something that they enjoy playing with because it’s fun, not just that ritualistic repetitive or because there’s self-soothing. Does that make sense? 

So I don’t want you to feel like you’re failing, you know, like if you’re trying to take something white on it, they’ve had, you know, like this thinking about what things you can put away. And again, if your child’s not interested in certain toys, again, it could just be that you have to step back again and just be at that level. Like if they’re jumping say on a mini track, you’re jumping with them and often you wait, is it. Then you model, you know, chug and then you stop. And I find that it starts that turn-taking taking. And then again, over time, like taking the child’s lead, you get out of that. You move on to shaping that request into more function by you modeling and is it going to be a sign? Is there going to be a visual, but yeah. 

So if your child’s toys and you can place them clear bands that are visible and you can put them like on a shelf. And sometimes I even put like, like a visual on the items so they know, or at least they can see like what it is, if it’s blocks, for instance, and idea is your child can’t climb on a ladder and get o it, you know, they know it’s there and they’re excited and you want, and they need to come to you. So that gives them a reason to come to you to want it to request. And so your talk needs to the quest. So again, it could be a picture or a word. And the idea is you want to make it exciting, like, ooh, clocks and wherever they’re at, if they’re pointing great, you can you know, let them point, you can model. Yes. You know, blacks, I want blocks. And again, every individual’s child is different who I work with. 

So I tweak it just right for them. If that makes sense, depending on where they’re at and what’s working like some children don’t like Pandora hand pointing due to sensory reasons. So I might have to change that. Maybe we’re just using like, you know, they’re able to be helped. Like if they want to touch the visual themselves, or sometimes I pick them up so they can see the toy more clearly and they’re going like this, you know, and I’ll be like more, not more, I’ll be like, you know, oh, trains, I want trains. And again, it’s just where the child is at and not getting them to the point of frustration wherever they’re at. You give them, if they look at you, if they run to whatever you bring it down and it’s working at the cellist level, don’t know how the child access things like food. Like I find like snacks and the iPad are really good. And the TV, if possible with the TV, buy it so that your child needs to request to use them or allowing only limited use and where you can put it away. So they’ll need to request to use the item again. So the idea is you know, and then it’s a whole nother ball game when they don’t want to give it back.

So that could be something else, like Ella knows, like first the visual and that’s a topic as well. But the main thing is, is that the idea is to get that motivation so that they have to come to you, which will provide multiple opportunities for them to have to come request and that you can shake that request.

Even like turning it on with the iPad. Like, I won’t just give it to them. Like, I’ll sit with them first. And then like, I tried to get them to even like request wherever they’re at to turn it on, you know? And then I might model, like, what, what do you want on the video? Like see what they’re searching for and say that they they’re great at the edit it. And they pick what they want. I might model, oh, you know, like, ooh, I want Thomas, you know, you know, but something like that provide obstacles, for example, you can put like something in front of the door or have the door locked. So like when your child, like to go outside. Like, that’s a big one. Like if there’s a chair in the way, like, oh, you know, oh no move chair. Sometimes I use a lot of times the word stuck or fix it. And when they get easier, if they’re verbalizing, they, they start to use that later. I find that they were, you get them going in that right direction. However, they can communicate it. 

The idea is they’re motivated because they want to maybe go out to vote. You want to use every opportunity for them to try to have you open the door before going out. So it’s using like every much you can to stretch and give them those multiple opportunities, taking a toy that your child really likes and you can start playing with it. And when they indicate they want to turn, however, they indicate. It could be again, the body language, the reaching out again. You can model that, that what, you know, car, I want car, car, please. And once they attempt requesting the item again, it’s just going back to that, that reward. And it’s just over time, I find this really helps them with getting motivated and wanting to come to you for things which then sets up future language development.

Because now you’ve made, you’ve given them a reason why they want to communicate at all, because this is like the corporate. Things that we need to get to those next steps.

During Play

I believe like where Sarah’s son is we’re using words already or communication, you know, in any way to, you know, come, come here, play and he’s playing with the toys and everything. If your child only some parts of an activity. So it could be like, even like, if your child’s drawing already like or doing an art project, if they’re at that level, it’s like holding back, maybe certain things that they need to know, like certain colored crayons. So if they love colors, they can indicate that they want the green line.

However, they communicate sign, just, you know, just you’re pointing words, but you’re always encouraging that next level, often communication. I’m modeling the language to them. And when the child begins to indicate that they, sorry, realized pieces are missing, you model again, the language they want to use, for example, check, please. And then you can hand them another track. 

So this is that, that idea, like, if you had say like, some track pieces missing that they need. They’re trying to make a bridge. And they’re very motivated to doing that. And it’s like, all of a sudden they can’t make it and they might not before they have a meltdown, because then it doesn’t work. But it’s just that preempting getting in there. Like when you read their body language, like they’re like, huh, and it’s just getting in there. Oh, what’s wrong. Oh no. And you might never know you might, if you get eye contact, right. If you get an oh no. That’s fine. Bridge risk bridge. And then again, if it’s locked in the box, it’s open, open box, all the bridge up to your mouth, or if they want to, if they can look at your eyes. Great. If not, that’s okay. If they’re looking at your nose or your cheek, that’s awesome. You just making that connection that, oh, I might get what I want. Oh, great. Mum’s got that bridge for me. And then they’re excited. They’re motivating. And then you can put that grit. You can even hold that bridge before you put that bridge in place.

It could be like another opportunity, like where did he study? And then I, that if they, they might go or go and you put the bridge in and again, with the train up, up, up, up. Wait, what do they do? Do they indicate any in any way down, down, down, down, down. So there’s just lots of in the early years, lots of this kind of opportunities you can provide on again, like peekaboo, like posting during it, do they want to indicate, are they indicating they want more of it so that you continue? It could be rough and tumble place. 

Another one where you start with tickles and then you stop. And you just look and see how they indicate that they want more of it and oh, and you don’t have to always use the word more. You could be like, yeah. You know, and then go again and then stop a little bit later and idea is they’re going to, you know, however they’re communicating whatever level they’re at. Because if you just keep doing it, then again, like there’s motivation. You’ll have lots of tickles, but you won’t have maybe any communication attempts, but if you watch carefully and you wait and you stop, you’ll definitely should see some with anything that your child is motivated by. Does that make sense? 

The swing is a great one voting this, you know, swings to the swinging and then holding the swing and then. We’re swaying and letting go. And then even counting if they like counting, you know, one, two, and then you’ll hold it. And, you know, you might go one, two, and then now ago, or any, any level that they’re at, but that’s again, another opportunity for any communicative intention using bubbles and blowing the bubbles. And I have a lot of times the children that are not able to stay open. I might, they start doing this independently on my bottle and I always try to have, you know, you can’t blow bubbles with them alongside them, but I find if they’re not melting down in, they’re comfortable, you you’re holding the bubbles, blow some, you know, I’ll use that waiting strategy again, they’re attempting reward rewarding, giving that to them. Closing the bottle up again and waiting and you know, like, you know, I suppose more bubbles and when they’re popping them park, and if they’re at pop pop, pop, you can be like, you know, if they’re already using puff or they are used bubble, it could be big bubbles, small bubble, you know, big bubble bubble bubble down. And you can just keep extending that as well.

During Snack Times

I think I did say during meals, just snacks. I did say that, just give a few so that they’re motivated to request some, some more of them. And then, you know, so if they take your hand again, so you’re just, you’re gonna, that should, that will be faded out as they learn to trust you that they really. They might get what they want. If they are looking at you or, you know, doing what, what levels or assets on that journey, it could be the gesture. It could be eye contact, and you’re shaping that a lot. You know, it’s into a more appropriate request. You can offer your food, a challenge that, you know, they don’t like, and you can model like, no, no, thank you. That’s another way to have to increase communication. You can also start eating a food that they really love and wait and see how they indicate that they would like to some, and of course, again, I keep saying how to appropriately request using a word, a visual sign gesture based on where they’re at, but the idea is we’re trying to move them away from.

Less Questions, More Conversation 

You know, when it comes, this is like something like little bit later on. I find sometimes parents will, I just, through this end, parents will ask me like Michelle, like, I want to have conversation with my child. You know, they’re using words, but they’re not telling me how their day was at school or they’re not answering my questions.

So sometimes with children with autism, they don’t find their practical. Like, like why you asking me this? They don’t see the, maybe the value in that. It’s not important to them or, or maybe they don’t understand what you’re asking or maybe they don’t understand that they’re supposed to respond. There could be many different reasons, but I find if you comment on what they’re doing at that moment, what they’re interested in or what they’re eating or what they’re doing. I find that they are more likely to engage with you longer. And if they’re verbal in any way, like using sign or words or AAC, I find that they are more likely to comment back to you. And then that can be a moment where you extend them. One more word, wherever. So too many questions, our conversation stopper. 

So comments are less directive and that’s another thing. Some of our children can have like anxiety and by questioning a little bit frightening and they can like almost freeze like performance, anxiety, like a perfectionism. And I find that when you comment on what they’re doing or what they’re set, you know, what they are saying and extending it, I find that. They’re more likely to do it back. And again, you start to get that early turn-taking back and forth, and that leads into a future conversation, which then can be taught explicitly through social skill training, like how to initiate conversations and all that later on down the road.

So for every question we say, it’s the, to like make three comments or say. That, and this can be built into your daily routines. So yeah, and even like a communication or a checkbook, if you want to know how your child was doing at preschool, like, or even at home, you can take photos of what they’re doing and comment on what they’re doing in the pictures. And they might be motivated to like, pointing or saying something in the picture if they’re at that level. Yeah. And then you comment back and you add on one more word and then. They something different. That’s okay. And then you would, you can add on one more word to that, and then you start to get this more natural.

Q & A

There’s a question in the chat that was, no, no, that’s good. When should the hand thing stop or change? As it’s the only way my two year old tells us she grabs and pulls to what she wants. 

Okay. It’s all about implementing the strategies. Shaping that. So you want to find what she’s you want to get set up that environment? So the only I find the most accessible way that worked for me. You get the child to stop doing this all the time was to get things that are highly motivating of value to them. Limiting access is what other people call it, like where they have to come to you so that you can model and shape that request from the hand pulling.

So when you play handful, you that’s fine. Go with it because you need to know what they’re trying to tell you, because if you don’t have a picture exchange in place yet, they’re not able to, you know, take a picture and bring it to you in another room because I’m kind of working on things that would lead into that you would, when you, they, you bring them to thing they want, if they’re just gonna grab it, right. They might take your hands sometimes. And have you grab it like the, the idea is you don’t want them to be able to grab it. You want to be able to like, if they could tolerate these, shaping their hand into a point where they handle it. It might be that the way to go or you hold the chips up to your face and our chips and or to your now and chips. And it might be that the child, your child two year old, she just does this, or just looks at you. That’s okay. Immediately give her the chicks and you’re going to build up, build up, build up so that eventually you’re moving away from just eye contact. If it could be that she’s pointing really hard and I can’t focus just on that.

So however it works for your child. If the eye contact is easier in the beginning, if they can tolerate the point and the hand over hand, if they can’t, there’s sensory strategies that you can learn in our program, you know, to address that, that ability to tolerate more of the hand over hand with pointing. So it’s a process. Does that answer the question? 

Oh, good. I hope that I wasn’t. I get a little bit passionate and wordy, so just interrupt me guys. 

So I want to thank everybody today was really lovely to meet you all. I don’t know if I saw everybody cause I had some technical difficulties. So Ella was here to rescue me, really appreciate all your time. And if you have questions later on, don’t hesitate and yeah, it was really fun. And just remember this is like early stuff there.

This might not have been helpful. And I apologize like for people, like if Sarah today, if this was all, but my child’s there already, there’s definitely things that other strategies and ways or checking our library, or if it’s not there, Ella, right. We can take one for the next step, you know? We can address where we go from. Yeah. Or maybe even, maybe just have an open session Ella, what do you think like where people can just ask communication questions, wherever their child is? I just, I just try my best to support. 

There’s a coach’s panel coming up in the workshop schedule that everybody can bring their questions and asks specific coaches there’ll be multiple people on there. So I think that’s going to be perfect for everybody to bring that questions. 

I think that would be really awesome because that was my main concern is that this wouldn’t suit everybody that might show up and I hate disappointing people. I’m a people pleaser. So I really, so that sounds great, Ella, that gives me good comfort because yeah.

Yeah. Perfect. Thank you, Michelle. Welcome. 

So lovely to meet you all. Thank you everybody so very much.

How To Increase Social Communication In The Early Years
Article Name
How To Increase Social Communication In The Early Years
This is a video about how to increase social communication in the early years. Michele Danneels discussed about different strategies, things that haven’t worked for you, and how we can tweak and modify that because every child is different. She also talked about how important parent involvement is in helping their children with their everyday communication.
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Autism 360
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