Saturday, April 2, 2011

Communication Temptations Using Wind Up Toys

When speech therapists work with children who have social communicative disorders or children with Autism, one of the most effective techniques for promoting interactions is through the use of something called communication temptations. These are activities that are designed to increase the child's interest in communicating by making communication a meaningful and fun activity. There are many different forms of communication temptation that can be used, but the basic premise is that an adult is able to use, obtain, or manipulate an object that a child is interested in but that the child cannot operate independently. I like to use simple wind up toys as communication temptations (especially with young children with Autism). I wind up the crab or alligator just enough to make it briefly move so the child is attracted to the toy. When it stops I wait to see what the child doesn't. Typically a child will reach for the toy and try to activate it without any help from an adult. When the child is unsuccessful often they will go to an adult for help and a communicative exchange has been established. It might not be truly social initially, but as the child learns that another person can actually help make toys fun it's a great hook for building more complex communicative turns. The most important thing when choosing a wind up toy (or any object) to use as a communication temptation there are two things you must consider. First, the object must be something that the child is interested in. Toys that have lights, makes sounds, or move are good first choices to try. Second, the object must be something that the child cannot operate, open, or obtain independently. In order for a communication temptation to work the child must need to involve another person in the activity. Finally, when choosing a wind up toy (or any cause-effect toy for that matter) make sure that it is something that poses some challenge for the child to operate. The purpose of playing with these toys is not for the child to immediately be able to operate the toys independently, but rather to learn how to use them with the help of another person.

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