Category Archives: communication


HAPPY NEW YEAR from  Interactive Therapy Inc.

This is a continuation of Part 2 of language activities to do at home to facilitate communication and interaction at home and in the community.

21.  Take your child on field trips.  There are many places in the St. Louis area which can provide your child with an enjoyable and enriching experience.

22.  Talk about the days of the week, the month and what will be happening that day, week, or month.

23.   Talk about the weather and how it looks today.  Discuss what type of clothes you need to wear  on the particular day.

24.  As each holiday approaches, discuss what it involves and what will be happening in your home.

25.  Talk about each season as it happens during the year.  Show and discuss the physical changes you see.

26.  Have your child say the word that finishes a riddle.  “Who delivers the mail?” (mail carrier).  “I bounce the  ________.”

25.  Read a story to your child, pausing at certain places, leaving out words; the child is to supply the missing word.

27.  To teach a child to ask questions, have him ask questions, have him ask questions concerning the location of a hidden object until it is found.

28.  Play descriptive games, e.g. “I Spy”.  Describe an object and have the child guess what it is, e.g. I have fur, a tail, four legs, and bark.”  “What am I?” (dog).  Also let your child try to describe something and you guess what it is he is describing.

29.  A deck of playing cards provides excellent teaching materials for matching and naming suits, pictures, numbers, and sets.

30.  Listening for sounds.  Have your child close his eyes and listen to the sounds going on around him.  Have him verbally identify what he hears.  Talk abut whether the sound is loud or soft, near or far away, high or low.

31.  Play Simon Says.  This gets the child to listen to commands auditorily and transfer commands to movements of body parts.

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Pam Hass, Speech Language Pathologist




This is a continuation of last week’s language activities to increase vocabulary and to facilitate interaction and communication.

11. Play a game of following commands such as, “Bring me the spoon and the glass.” or “Close the door and turn on the light.” This teaches your child to listen and follow directions.

12. Use prepositions to play listening games. “Put the spoon in the glass.” Put the car behind the chair.” Where is the car?” “Put the cup between the forks.”

13. Hide objects in the room and have your child tell where he/she found them.

14. Help your child learn colors, shapes, and sizes by talking about objects in his/her everyday world. “This is a big, red, ball.” “It is round and it bounces.”

15. Take turns talking about things as you do them: “I am stirring.” “You are washing.” “I am dancing.” “We are shopping.”

16. Talk about how foods taste, look, feel, smell and sound as you eat them.

17. Count things as you do them, like buttoning, climbing steps, and setting the table.

18. Collect a box of junk. Take turns guessing what is in the box by the way it feels (close your eyes of course) or by the way it sounds when it is shaken or banged on the side.

19. Using measuring spoons, measuring cups, bowls and cans, put them in order from small to large and talk about which one is the smallest, biggest, and in the middle.

20. Play songs. Sing with your child. Nursery rhymes and simple songs build vocabulary and grammar.

If you want more information or to schedule an appointment with Interactive Therapy, go to

Pamela Hass
Speech Language Pathologist


Using natural activities will increase vocabulary.  When your child needs to learn a “target” word, try these activities:

  1. Find five pictures depicting the word and tape them in five major doorways throughout your house.  Place the pictures at your child’s eye level.  Now establish the “rule” that whenever a family member goes through that doorway, and your child is within listening distance, the family member must say the word or a short phrase containing the word.
  2. Use the word in some of your family’s favorite songs.
  3. Have your child participate in activities in which the word occurs (folding clothes, mealtime, playing with toys, dressing, bathtime, etc.). Use the word repeatedly throughout the activity.
  4. Encourage your child to use the word, but without too much pressure.  Continue the activities described to help the child listen to the word and see how using the word can influence other people.
Using activities of daily living to help your child learn new words and using the words repeatedly in the activity will help your child retain the word.  Praise your child for using the word in conversation when it occurs.
Reference:  The strategies were taken from Communication Skill Builders by Leslie S. McColgin.
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Interactive Therapy Inc. hasn’t blogged in a while, so this post is a continuation of learning new words that was started in April, 2015.  These are more tips to help your child learn new words for improved communication:

6) Try to use meaningful situations at home to develop language learning.  For example, when your child wants or needs something, the child is more likely to pay attention to the word, or to try to say the word.

7) Repetition is very important.  It is possible to find many different responses to say a word in a given situation.  It may be necessary for your child to hear a word many times, in different phrases, before the child will try to say it.

8) Respond appropriately to your child.  Children acquire words because words bring results.  The big “payoff” for your child’s use of words is your natural and spontaneous response.  For example, your child might say, “More ice cream, please.” If you give more ice cream, the child is discovering that language gets results.

9) As your child learns new words, the pronunciation may not be correct.  It is important that you accept variations in pronunciation at first.  Encourage the use of the word without correcting the child’s pronunciation.  Pronunciation can be improved once a child has acquired a word and uses it without hesitation in appropriate situations.

10) Your child also needs to hear and see what the word is NOT.  Knowing what a hat is , is related to knowing that other things are “not hats.”  Putting different types of hats in a group is one way to help your child know what a hat is and for example that ” a shirt” is not a hat.  Point out to your child things that are not what you are currently working on.  In general, it is best to start by pointing out what something is before pointing out what it is not.

The above information was taken from “Communication Skill Builders”  and written by Leslie S. McColgin for instructional purposes and edited by me.

I would like to add that the target for increasing vocabulary from the time a child starts talking is to add 1-2 new words per week.  I want to reiterate that using objects in daily living repeatedly and in a variety of ways is the best way  to increase vocabulary.

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Pamela Hass, Speech Language Pathologist


So far, we have discussed tips for learning language at home. They are: 1) Be an active listener. 2) Let your child talk. 3) Reward your child’s speech attempts. and 4) If you don’t understand your chld, help the child communicate more clearly.

More strategies will help your child develop language.

5) Give your child enough time to respond to you. Children with language problems often need extra time to process what you say. You should not assume that your child will be ready to respond as soon as you finish talking. If your child is unable to respond, repeat what you said. Your child may need to hear it again to fully understand the meaning. It will take a lot of patience on your part to wait and repeat if necessary, but it will improve your daily communications with your child.

6) When your child makes a sound or word, use feedback. Child: “Look, Daddy’s tar!” Caregiver would respond with, “Yes, Daddy’s Car! We ride in his car.” All you are doing is giving your child a chance to hear the correct form. It is not necessary to ask your child to repeat the correct form. In time, your child will probably begin to repeat the correct speech after you without being asked to do so. This allows you to avoid “correcting” your child’s speech and language. Nobody likes to be corrected! Your child needs to associate language development with good experiences. Try using feedback with your child. You will probably be pleased with the results.

Reference: Communication Skill Builders; Diana D. Grimm, M.A. CCC, Ed.S.

Encourage Your Child’s Language Development: PART 2

We are continuing to recommend ways to encourage language development.  The first two listed in my last post were 1) Be an active listener and 2) Let your child talk without interruptions.

Some other ways are:

3) Reward your child’s speech attempts by expressing approval in several ways.  Physical approval are smiles, hugs, kisses, and touch.   Verbal approval is “Good!”;  “I like that!”; “Nice talking!”;  “I like the way you use that new word.”  Natural consequences are an appropriate action in response to your child’s speech attempt, such as: Child says “Ju” and you as the parent would say “You want juice!” as you give your child juice.

4) If you don’t understand your child, help your child communicate more clearly: a)  Smile, don’t frown.  A frown may give your child the impression you are unhappy or angry. b) Acknowledge your child’s speech attempts and frustration at not being understood.  You might say, “I know you are trying to tell me something.  Sometimes it’s hard.” c) Try to understand one word of your child’s remark.  Use the word to ask the child to try again:  “Tell me about the dog.” d) If you continue to have difficulty understanding, ask your child to show you.  Have your child point to what he/she is talking about.  * Give multiple choice questions along with the objects that correspond to the question.  For example, “Do you want juice or milk?”

I will continue to give you strategies to encourage language development in your child in the next post.

Reference: Communication Skill Builders; Author Diann D. Grimm, M.A. CCC, Ed.S

* Edited by Pamela Hass, M.A. CCC-SLP





Part One:
How parents respond to their child can encourage or discourage language development. A child might say, “He eated the cake.” The child’s parents may reply, “No, not eated. That’s wrong! Say, ‘he ate the cake.’ If you were the child, which reply would encourage you to keep trying to learn?


How parents respond to their child’s efforts to communicate is very important. Children learn best when they are encouraged to try and are praised when they succeed. When parents accept their child’s attempts to speak, the child wants to keep trying. To improve, the child must keep talking!

It is especially important for children having difficulty with language to have good experiences while learning. These tips can help parents respond to their child in positive ways. This approach can encourage learning, boost self-confidence, and make the learning experience fun for everyone.

1. BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER. Let your child know that you are listening. Show your sincere interest. Get down to the child’s eye level and look at the child. Listen to the child’s tone of voice. Notice the expressions of the child’s face, body, and hands. These will all be clues to help you understand your child’s message. Let your child know that the message is important to you.

Every parent has times when it is impossible to be an active listener. At those times, let your child know
that you care, but are just too busy to talk. If possible, tell the child that you would like to talk later. Be sure to follow through on that promise!

Because children are just learning our complex language, it may take them a long time to put their thoughts into words. If your child feels rushed, the child’s language attempts may be unsuccessful, resulting in a bad experience. Try to set up family rules about whose turn it is to “take the floor”. Let your child finish speaking, even if the child’s “turn” is longer than other family members’.

Reference: Diann D. Grimm, M.A., CCC, Ed.S.
Communication SKill Builders Inc

Look for PART 2 coming soon!

Pam Hass
Speech Language Pathologist
Interactive Therapy Inc

Giving Directions to Your Child

It is important for children to follow directions at home, at school, and in the community, especially for their safety.  Parents/teachers and significant others can improve their child’s direction following by eliminating distractions before giving directions such as the TV, tablet, and smart phone.  You can tap your child on the shoulder or wait for them to respond after calling their name before giving the direction.  Get down to your child’s level so they can see your facial expression by squatting, if you have to. Pair gestures with directions by pointing to objects and their locations. For example, pointing to your child’s room while saying “Go to your room and get your coat”.  Speak clearly and not too rapidly.  Repeating directions is helpful after about 5-15 seconds, allowing your child to respond.  This amount of time helps your child to think about the directions before you repeat them.  With older children, you can ask your child to repeat your directions after you, which activates his/her memory.  It helps you know, if your child heard you correctly and actually understood the directions.  Select words at your child’s level of difficulty.  Use one more word than the child is using, e.g. If your child is using only one word to communicate, your directions are to be no more than two to three words.  Know what to expect of your child.  Know the developmental level of your child.  (See below for the sequence of developmental direction following).  Give your child clear feedback.  Let your child know exactly what was done correctly.  If your child did not complete the directions, show or tell exactly what needed to be done.  Praise whatever your child did correctly. 

Give Directions Your Child Can Understand

1.  First, your child understands simple directions paired with a gesture:  “Give it to me” while holding out your hand.
2.  Next, your child understands simple directions without gestures: “Stand up.” “Get the cup.” “Sit down.”
3.  Your child understands two simple related directions about the same object: “Get your coat and put it on.”
4.  Your child understands two-part directions about unrelated objects: “Go to your room and get your shoes”.  “Give me the bowl and the spoon.”
5.  Your child understands two-part directions involving two actions: “Give me the toy and put your cup on the table.”
6.  Finally, your child understands three-part unrelated directions involving three actions: “Put your toys away, go wash your hands, and get in the car.”

Excerpts taken from “Communication Skill Builders, Inc by Diann D. Grimm, M.A. C.C.C., ED.S.

Help Your Child Develop Imitation Skills: Part 2

Teaching Tips for Parents on how to develop imitation skills in their children.

1. Frequently imitate your child including babbling, mouth movements, hand movements-any kind of movement, especially ones that the child does over and over.  Do this as often as you can throughout the day.

2.  Continue to imitate your child and change what you do just a little bit.  If your child babbles “pa-pa”, you babble “ba-ba”.  Be very enthusiastic, if your child imitates your “new” action.  Write down some of your child’s sounds and movements and how you are going to imitate them a little differently.  Put your list on the refrigerator or other obvious place as a reminder.

3.  Continue to imitate your child, but change your action a little more.  If your child says “pa-pa”, you say “pie-pie-pie”.  If your child claps hands together, you put your hands on the floor.  Praise your child and be enthusiastic when the child imitates you.  Write down your child’s actions and sounds and how you plan to imitate them.  Later write in how your child imitated you.

4.  Give your child toys that resemble things around the house: toy dolls, toy dishes, etc.  Let the child play with brooms, pots, and pans and “dress-up” clothes.  These will give your child opportunities to experiment with actions you perform during the day.  The child can dress dolls, “cook” food, sweep the floor, or “drive” cars.

5.  When your child begins to say words, add one other meaningful word to it to expand on his/her speech and language.

Write down each action your child imitates without seeing you do it at that time.  Write down ways your child does things that show the child is thinking-using an action that has been imitated before to solve a problem that requires a similar action.  The child who opened and closed a puppet’s mouth by relating an open and closed mouth (the familiar action) to opening the puppet’s mouth (similar action) is an example.  This helps you note and remember your child’s development. 

Written by Leslie S. Mccolgin.  Communication Skill Builders, 1988

Even though this information was written in 1988,  the principles hold true for present and future ages.- Pam Hass, Speech Language Pathologist

Consult your speech language therapist for more ideas on how to develop speech, language, and signing development to facilitate communication.

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Help Your Child Develop Imitation Skills: Part I

Reference: by Leslie S. McColgin
Communication Skill Builders, Inc

What is imitation?

Imitation is the ability to copy the behavior of another person.

How do imitation skills develop?

1.  One of the earliest forms of imitation is called “mutual imitation”.  This means that your child imitates you only when you have imitated the child first.  Parents often play “babbling games” with their child.  The child says “ga-ga” and the adult imitates “ga-ga”.  The child enjoys this response and tries again; “ga-ga”.  The child has just engaged in mutual imitation.  Motor actions can be imitated in the same way.  At first, you will have to let your child start the imitation game.  As your child develops, you can start the game by babbling or making some action that you have heard or seen your child do often.  Your child still isn’t ready to imitate a sound or action that the child does not already know.

2.  Next, your child begins to imitate sounds and actions that are similar, but not identical to the child’s own.  For example, a child might babble “pa-pa.”  The adult playing with the child might open and close the mouth without making any sound.  At first the child might imitate this by babbling “pa-pa” again.  However, this may soon change to the child opening and closing the mouth just like the adult model.  The child will  “figure out” how “pa-pa” and opening  and closing the mouth are similar.  then the child will be able to imitate this “new” action.  This is the beginning of having a “thought” that is symbolic.

3.  Now the child experiments and explores with sounds and actions to make them more like the adult model’s.  The child imitates the adult more and more exactly.  Soon the child will be able to imitate sounds and actions that the child has never tried before.

4.  In the final stage, the child learns to imitate without a model.  This is called deferred imitation.  For example, a child once wanted to get a necklace out of a matchbox with a small opening.  First, the child tried turning it upside down and shaking it with no success.  Finally, the child sat down, mouth slowly opening and closing.  The child had imitated this movement before.  Mentally, the child saw how opening and closing the mouth and the matchbox were similar.  The child immediately opened the box!  The child didn’t need a model to imitate.  Instead, the child used a similar action to the one the child had imitated before.  At this stage children will imitate “housework” with toy brooms and dishes and perform many actions similar to those of Mommy and Daddy.

Part II will consist of teaching tips for parents in how to develop imitation skills in their child.

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