Speech Language Pathology LLC
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  • Posted on June 2nd, 2009


    Following the Child’s lead and using Declaratives are two ways to support a child as he/she learns to communicate and develop mature language. Following the child’s lead confirms the child’s communicative messages. Using declarative statements allows the child to do their own problem solving and actively generate a communicative message.

    How to follow the child’s lead?

    Observe the child. Wait for the child to respond. Watch and Listen to the child. Do all of this before talking. You will then be able to connect with the child by imitating, expanding on what the child said or did and maintaining or changing the topic based on the child’s interest level. This requires that the adult abandon her own agenda and follow the child’s lead communicatively. Being on the child’s physical level (face to face) , and speaking to the child’s receptive language level and expressive language level will help the interaction continue and reduce frustration on the child’s part.

    Declarative Statements are comments you make about your own experience. Non-verbal declaratives are sounds( “uh oh”, gasping, sighing), facial expressions and body gestures (pointing, shrugging shoulders). For example when looking for a lost item a declarative statement to a child may be “I wonder where the shoe is.” Rather than using imperative statements such as “Find the shoe .” or “where is the shoe?”. Another example would be to make declarative statements such as ” wow” when looking at a child’s art work or “I like that color” rather than “What is this? ” or ” What color is this?”

    Imperative statements are close-ended questions and directives. Our communication is probable 20% imperative statements. These statements and questions require a specific response from the listener and do not require the listener to be creative in generating a response. Imperative statements would be “what is that?” “Sit down” “Give me the cup”

    A child who is dependent upon imperative statements to prompt communication is not getting the time needed to generate creative linguistic communicative responses. Our job as the child’s guides would be to follow the child’s lead and make as many declarative statements as possible, stepping in to model as necessary only when the child cannot generate his/her own message.

    This is a combination of information from Hanen techniques, Floor Time techniques, and Relationship Development Intervention techniques.

    Shelley Molinaro, MS.CCC/SLP

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